TRAVERSE CITY — From the Empire Spear beer brewed with asparagus to the Ancho Chili Double Dutch Chocolate porter, Right Brain Brewery doesn’t shy away from much at the brewing kettle.
Founded in 2007, the craft brewery has made a name for itself brewing some of the most innovative and unique beers in the state. After one pint in the warehouse-district brewpub, it’s immediately apparent that they take the name “right brain” to heart.
Almost everything in this pub — from the furniture to the beer mugs — strays far away from the ordinary. The walls are covered with an eclectic collection of local art that includes paintings, photography and everything in between.
Taking a seat at the bar, on a couch, or even a refurbished dentist’s chair, you’ll be drawn in by the social atmosphere of Right Brain. Instead of a bar lined with TVs, you’ll find patrons playing board games, throwing darts or simply enjoying the company of their friends over a beer.
Right Brain boasts an impressive line-up of rotating beers, including Will Power Pale Ale, CEO Stout and Black-eye PA to name a few. The “beer board” is well-populated, so finding something to your liking is never an issue. That said, Right Brain usually has a few extreme beers on tap for the more adventurous drinker.
Personally, I’m under the belief that the bourbon barrel is the best thing to happen to beer since yeast. That said, Right Brain delivers one of my all-time favorite barrel aged stouts — Distill My Heart Bourbon Barrel Aged stout.
Aged in Woodford Reserve barrels, this beer pours jet black, with a thin veil of tan head. Notes of vanilla and bourbon on the nose continue through a balanced body of roasted malts and coffee. If you get the opportunity to try this one, you will not be disappointed.
But I digress. This is July in Traverse City, and my most recent visit to Right Brain was for their summer line-up of fruit beers, featuring — you guessed it — cherries.
- Cherry Pie-Whole: Right Brain collaborated with the Grand Traverse Pie Company to create an ale brewed with whole cherry pies. This beer pours a clean golden-amber, with a thin layer of white head that dissipates quickly. A pleasant nose of sweet cherries continues through a body of toasted malt with a fluffy mouthfeel. The cherries take the front row to this beer, rounded out by a very well-balanced body. An experimental success that is definitely worth trying.
- Strawberry Fields: Served with a strawberry in the glass, this is lighter ale that pours a hazy golden straw with a very subtle pink tone. Nose of sweet strawberries fades a bit to a warm body of bready malts and a smooth mouthfeel. Carbonation lends to a pleasant crisp finish that lingers with the sweet strawberries found in the nose.
- Dead Kettle IPA: A hazy, light amber beer with a clean hoppy nose of grapefruit and citrus. A pleasant malt body takes a seat to the predominate citrusy hop flavor. Lighter mouthfeel with good carbonation, the hops continue and round out a nice clean, crisp finish.
Want more Right Brain? Check out our video interview from the 2011 Michigan Summer Beer Fest!