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5.8% ABV, Draft

Appearance: Bright red with a medium head
Aroma: Earthy with hints of beet
Taste: Notes of beets with a sweet honey finish
Mouthfeel: Light bodied

This light bodied wheat ale is as unique as Brewery Terra Firma’s approach to brewing. Brewed with local beets and honey from the Terra Firma farm, Wicked Garden is perfect for someone looking to try something new. The beet flavor is not overwhelming, but rather complimentary to the use of malted wheat, rye and barley. Honey then creates a beautiful sweet finish.

8.1% ABV, Draft

Appearance: Golden brown with small head
Aroma: Subtle notes of rye and hops
Taste: Rye with citrus and floral hop finish
Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with a smooth finish

What the Frank Double Rye IPA is a combination of two great flavor profiles. The spice of the rye balances beautifully with the variety of hops used. With seven hop additions, this Double Rye IPA is perfect for any IPA fan.

6.8% ABV, Draft

Appearance: Black with little head
Aroma: Notes of coffee and roasted nuts
Taste: Malty with notes of roasted coffee
Mouthfeel: Full bodied with a smooth finish

Penny Dreadful, brewed for Halloween and now distributed throughout the state, is a beautiful dark beer. It is a smooth black ale with a wonderfully rich coffee flavor. The complexity of malt, coffee and roasted nuts increases with each sip. For those who aren’t big fans of thicker stouts and porters, this is the perfect winter beer.

5.7% ABV, Draft

Appearance: Golden amber color with little head
Aroma: Floral mix of hops
Taste: Slightly malty with hints of hops
Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with a smooth finish

Named after a 1980s Traverse City theatrical group, this IPA is truly American. It has a soft balance of hops, which makes it an easy-to-drink IPA. It is not overly bitter, as many IPAs are, and finishes quite smooth. Karma Palace would be the perfect partner to pizza and wings, or even as an enjoyable beer at the end of a long day.

8% ABV, Draft

Appearance: Black color with a small head.
Aroma: Similar to a chai tea.
Taste: Spicy and sweet but not too strong. Chai and other earthy flavors come through.
Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with a moderate amount of carbonation.

Spice beers are tricky — they either work or they don’t. Terra Firma’s Tai Chi Seven Spice Stout is one that works very well, containing a chai-like flavor and aroma, accompanied by a variety of spices that wake up the senses. Fairly easy-drinking despite the 8% ABV — a perfect example of when sweet and savory work.

TRAVERSE CITY — Brewery Terra Firma, which translates to Solid Earth in Latin, opened in July with a different approach to brewing. It’s the first of its kind in the state, which brings agriculture and beer together. It aims to produce as many of its ingredients on site as possible, and is utilizing many sustainable practices to reduce waste. 

Finding inspiration from food and his passion for cooking, Brew Master John Niedermaier has already utilized the on-site farm. “We were able to use pumpkins and honey that were produced here on the farm in a number of our brews this year, and that will increase next year,”  Matt Heffron, Terra Firma’s taproom manager explained.

Niedermaier has been brewing for 25 years and has a collection of over 1,000 brewing recipes. He brewed for many years at Traverse Brewing Company, and was Brew Master at Right Brain Brewery. He is known for the quality of his beer, as well as his unique approach to brewing. Brews found at Terra Firma include the highly sought after Manitou Amber Ale, and creative brews such as Wicked Garden Honey Rye and Beet Wheat.

In order to create many of these unique brews while also maximizing the use of its agriculture, Terra Firma will be expanding its farm in the next growing season. Heffron explained, “Look for more spices, herbs, vegetables, squash, fruits and flowers in 2014.” 

In addition to food, Brewery Terra Firma is also working on growing its own hops. Hops have been growing on-site for the last two years while the brewery was still being constructed. 

“We are planning on moving the hopyard this spring to a much more visible location in our East field now that we have a summer of soil conditioning and building in that area,” explained Heffron. 

In an effort to limit waste, Brewery Terra Firma has also put many sustainable practices into place. Spent grains left after brewing, for example, are composted with other farm byproducts, and an innovative water system reduces water usage by 20%. 

Using this model, Brewery Terra Firma has been able to distribute to pubs and taprooms throughout the state. Currently, Terra Firma’s brews can be found on tap throughout Northern Michigan and much of the southwest area of the state.  

“We plan to continue expanding distribution throughout the state, both in range and variety of products distributed,” stated Heffon. 

With this innovative business model that reduces waste and emphasizes local resources, Brewery Terra Firma is definitely a brewery worth experiencing.

TRAVERSE CITY — Brewery Terra Firma celebrated a summer of success on Sunday with its standing room only Grand Opening celebration.

“We have seen a good mix of locals and quite a few tourists that have seen the Pure Michigan signs on US 31 and stopped by out of curiosity,” stated Marketing Director Josh Janowiak.

Terra Firma, the first brewery/farm of its kind in Northern Michigan, opened in early July and aims to be as sustainable and local as possible. With a farm on the property, Brewmaster John Niedermaier uses as many ingredients grown on site as he can and also uses environmentally conscious methods for waste and water management.

The grand opening highlighted these achievements with exclusive brews, food and music. There were 14 brews on tap, including the new Soul Butter Triple IPA and Man in Black Stout. The food was prepared by local Chef George Weir and included smoked pulled pork, ribs and chicken seasoned with sauces made with the brewery’s beer. Grand Traverse Pipes and Drums performed throughout the evening to show support for the new brewery.

The Soul Butter Triple IPA is a great beer for hop fans. It has nine hop additions and is quite hoppy, but isn’t overly bitter. The strong hoppy flavor is balanced with pine and citrus-floral hops. You are left with the citrus hops at the end, which gives the brew its smooth “butter-like” finish.

While Soul Butter is only available at the brewery, look for other Terra Firma brews throughout the Traverse City area. They can be found at brewpubs like 7 Monks and Maddy’s Tavern throughout the seven county region surrounding Traverse City.

What’s next for this new sustainable brewery?

After just two months of being open, Brewery Terra Firma is already looking to expand its reach and its local impact.

“We are working with a distributor to get our brand in the northern tip of the lower peninsula,” Janowiak explained.

Terra Firma will also be supporting the Boardman River on Sept. 19 by donating 50% of its sales to the Grand Traverse Conservation District. This event is part of a larger raffle to support maintenance along the river.

I, myself, am excited to see what new brews are created using this new sustainable model. Keep your eye out for a pumpkin ale, made with pumpkins from the farm, later this fall.

Traverse City has another local watering hole to add to its ever-growing list of breweries.

Brewery Ferment, which opened late September, features six flagship beers — Worker’s Daily, Logger Lager, Mitten Wit, 45th Parallale, Bookstore Bitter and Old Town Brown. Brewery Ferment also offers a variety of seasonal beers, which primarily consist of porters and stouts.

Nestled in Traverse City’s Old Town district, Brewery Ferment is stationed in a more than 100-year-old building.

The brewery also features a small food menu and games for guests.

Ferment is one of many new breweries that have or are opening up in the Northern Michigan city. Still set to open this year, Boardman River Brewing Co., Beggars Brewery and Brewery Terra Firma will add to the growing landscape of Traverse City breweries.