Craft beer is a huge industry in Michigan, and Northern Michigan is capitalizing on the expertise and passion in the area. Do you want to check out a brewery in or around Traverse City, but avoid some of the crowds? I recommend visiting some of the “unknown” breweries that have a lot to offer and it won’t be long before they’re busy all the time. My recommendations for an “out of the way” brewery experience are:
1. Lake Ann Brewing Co.
It seems like everyone is brewing their own beers these days, and Matt Therrien the brewer of Lake Ann Brewing Company, is no different.Therrien has been brewing beer in his parents’ basement and then in his own garage for the past 20 years. The Lake Ann Brewing Company sits in what was once the Lake Ann Cafe, right in the heart of the little town just west of Traverse City. The friendly staff and welcoming decor creates an environment that feels like your uncle’s fishing cabin. There is a portrait of George Washington, fishing poles hanging from the walls, and, just as no up north cabin would be complete without one, there is a hornet’s nest on the wall. On tap, they have 8 of their own beers along with other local ciders and wines (free refills on Northwoods Soda for those in your party not drinking), and a number of snacks. If you’re looking for a full meal feel free to order from The
On tap, they have eight of their own beers along with other local ciders and wines (free refills on Northwoods Soda for those in your party not drinking), and a number of snacks. If you’re looking for a full meal feel, free to order from nearby spots, The Stone Oven Restaurant or Papa J’s Pizza, and they will deliver right to your table. But, the beer is what you’ll really be visiting for, of course, and my favorite is the Lake Ann Amber.
2. Rare Bird Brewpub
In 2011, Nate Crane and Tina Schuett met at another Traverse City brewery and bonded over a love of birds and beer. Over time, this love turned into Rare Bird Brewpub. When entering the pub, the visitor’s eye is first drawn to the glass wall and the giant kegs of beer behind it. These are connected to the taps behind the bar where the house brews come from. The rest of the walls are paneled in hardwood, and the top of the bar and tables are silver metal. There is a stage next to the fireplace and couches for those looking for a more relaxed drinking experience. When I visited, I tried all of the house brews that they had on tap, and my favorite was the Schmamber Amber. I also enjoyed Nuts to Butter, which was brewed with chocolate and half a pound of peanut butter for every gallon! The food menu is absolutely delicious, and I recommend the Black Bean and Quinoa Burger because it was easily the best veggie burger I’ve ever had.
3. Big Cat Brewing Co.
The Big Cat Brewing Co is located in Cedar, about 20 minutes outside of Traverse City. The building is more spacious than the other two breweries on this list, and it sort of feels like someone’s home. There are animal rugs on the floor and fish on the walls. The space used to be the Cedar Rustic Inn, and in March of 2016, Big Cat Brewing opened its doors. As they are a smaller brewery, there are normally only four to six of their own brews on tap. For this stop, I decided to just sample one of their selections, The October Surprise. This was excellent, and I hope to go back and try their other brews!
What are your favorite “unknown” breweries in Northern Michigan? Let us know in the comments!