TRAVERSE CITY — If you’re looking to expand your knowledge in the world of beer, look no further than Brewtopia presented by Right Brain Brewery.

Brewtopia is a monthly educational beer and social group. It has emerged from the previous Beer B.I.T.C.H. Coalition, an education group for women brewers and beer lovers. Brewtopia is open to both men and women and provides a great opportunity to understand and appreciate beer in new and intriguing ways.

I attended the second Brewtopia meeting Thursday evening, which featured chocolate pairings. I’ve enjoyed beer with dinner, but have never thought of it as coordinating with dessert.

“We love beer. We love chocolate. And we think they go well together,” said Ryan Engemann, Right Brain’s Resident Beer Geek and Certified Cicerone.

The meeting began with Engemann teaching the group about the roasting and fermenting processes of both chocolate and beer — they are ironically similar in nature. Engemann and Right Brain bartender Jessica Laffin then served six courses of Right Brain beer and chocolate. With each course, Laffin explained the features of the chocolate and beer and why they were paired together.

The Menu:

  • Course 1: White chocolate pecan bark (from Kilwin’s of Traverse City) with Pecan Pie Whole
  • Course 2: Homemade chocolate caramel pretzel with Northern Hawk Owl
  • Course 3: Homemade peanut butter fudge with Thai Peanut
  • Course 4: Dark chocolate with dried cherries (from Chocolate Exotica) with Debauchery Wheat Wine
  • Course 5: Maya Truffle (from Grocer’s Daughter) with Fire Starter Chipotle Porter
  • Course 6: Moomer’s Mint Chocolate Ice Cream with Naughty Girl Scout

A little weary at first, I was pleasantly surprised at how well each pair complemented each other. The butterfat in the chocolate lingers in your mouth and reacts with the high carbonation of the beer. As it reacts, you experience bubbles dancing and cleansing your palate for the next course. My favorites were the peanut butter fudge with Thai Peanut and the Maya Truffle with Fire Starter Chipotle Porter.

Brewtopia truly was a new experience for me and brought about an even greater appreciation for beer. Each Brewtopia meeting has a different focus, with the first meeting featured cheese pairings. In the future, look for more food pairings, homebrewing tips, grain demos, guest speakers and more.

To get information on upcoming Brewtopia meetings and other Right Brain events, visit