Tucked away in the Warehouse district, in Right Brain Brewery’s original location, is a brewery which aims to be synonymous with Traverse City. The Workshop Brewing Company opened in 2013 and has set itself apart from the other breweries in the area. Its unique atmosphere, amazing selection of food and beer and dedication to the community has quickly made it a favorite among locals.
The Workshop’s distinct approach centers around its strong philosophy: nature, community, craft. After traveling the country and living in various places including Pennsylvania and Montana, owner Pete Kirkwood settled with his family in Traverse City because he found that it embraces these principles, which Kirkwood is passionate about. Each element is heavily present in everything The Workshop does.
“We recognize our responsibility to protect, preserve, and restore the natural bounty that has been bestowed upon on us,” said Kirkwood.
With the Grand Traverse Bay and the Boardman River on either side of the brewery, it only makes sense to consider the area’s natural elements. The Workshop accomplishes/does this by using as many local and organic products as possible and being a zero-waste facility. Local hops are used in its brews and spent grains are regularly utilized in its food menu.
As The Workshop embraces community, it’s not uncommon to find families or someone working on a laptop at the brewery. Books, board games, foosball and even old video games are present in the taproom. Money collected from these games is given back to local charities.
“We want to be accessible. We want this to be a great place to be and a satisfying place to work,” said Kirkwood.
Much like other small breweries in the area, The Workshop aims to be a third place, a place to share ideas. Various events are also regularly held at The Workshop, including local music four nights a week. And, unlike many other music venues, The Workshop does not charge a cover.
The last element of Workshop’s tri-fidelity, craft, is strongly represented in its food and beer. All of its food is made from scratch and locally sourced as much as possible. The same can be said for its beer, which is traditionally made. It is honest about its style, and aims to produce brews known for their timeless quality.
“We don’t all have to make new-fangled beers. We like to stick to the old-fangled beers that have been great for centuries,” said Kirkwood.
This means you won’t find a beer with odd ingredients, but rather beer that’s already known for its quality. Currently, the only IPA crafted by The Workshop is an English-style IPA, which sits at a nice low 47 IBU. The list of “old-fangled” brews from Workshop ranges from saison to porter, ESB to barrel-aged, and everything in between.
Staying true to the values of nature, community, and craft has paid off for Kirkwood, as he opened The Remedy in an adjoining space last year. Aiming to be the “cure for what ales you,” The Remedy offers a delectable breakfast menu that features sriracha bacon, spent-grain biscuits and gravy and brioche french toast.
“We wanted it to be connected, so we do things like use pint glasses for coffee, and then have the Remedy Breakfast Stout over here,” said Kirkwood.
The Remedy carries the same atmosphere as The Workshop, is a quick turn down the hallway and even uses The Workshop’s brews in its food and beer-mosas.
By expanding The Workshop brand within the Warehouse district, it has become more of a destination, which is exactly what Kirkwood aims to do. There is no ambition to distribute The Workshop’s beer or open multiple breweries. Kirkwood is intentionally focused on Traverse City, and simply aims to expand The Workshop’s reach of nature, community, and craft.
“You have to live where you love,” said Kirkwood.