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TRAVERSE CITY — Bacon-wrapped dates, an amazing burger and beers that range from PBR to specialty trappist beers.

Welcome to 7 Monks Taproom in downtown Traverse City. Opened in 2011, 7 Monks provides an atmosphere unlike any other brewery or taproom. With 46 taps, 7 Monks offers a wide selection of rotating beers.

There is a lot of buzz in the area surrounding the opening of new breweries. However, 7 Monks is not a brewery. Instead, its mission is to bring quality beer from around the world to the Traverse City area.

“There is a lot of great craft beer around the world, not just in this country,” said Jason Kasdorf, General Manager.

We like to think of the craft beer movement as something unique to the United States, as it is an industry that is booming. However, founders Matt Cozzens and Jim Smolak have found the allure of trappist beers. Trappist beers are brewed by Trappist monks in Belgium and the Netherlands. There are 174 Trappist monasteries throughout the world, but only seven produce beer.

This is where the name 7 Monks comes from.

“We love the history and the culture that surrounds those monasteries,” explained Kasdorf.

7 Monks pays tribute to all that Michigan has to offer as well. The bar regularly features various local craft brews, and holds many tap takeovers throughout the year. The takeovers are a result of having so many breweries to choose from; they serve as a great way to highlight different breweries for a night.

One of 7 Monks’ biggest tap takeovers has been for Short’s Brewing Company. In fact, it’s been so successful, the Short’s takeover has become an annual event, held between Christmas and New Year’s.

Last year, 7 Monks featured 43 different Short’s tap and the bar expects the event to continue to grow.

In the two years 7 Monks has been open, it has quickly become the place to go get quality food and quality beer. It’s a great place to unwind after work, start the weekend or celebrate something special.

Watch the 7 Monks Facebook page for updates on their events and tap selection.

Thirty-four days. That’s how long it takes to turn a Tex-Mex restaurant into a craft beer bar.

Residents of Metro Detroit may know the address 175 W. Troy Ave. in Ferndale as a slew of different venues over the years.

In a former life, the address housed the Irish pub Rosie O’Grady’s before moving. After that, it became the restaurant Cantina Diablo’s. But since then, just over a year in, One Eyed Betty’s has become a craft beer destination in Southeast Michigan.

The bar’s success is a testament to Owner and Operator Beth Hussey’s original vision.

“I knew this area was very much underserved when it came to craft beer,” she said. “I knew there was an opportunity here and it would go well.”

Once Diablo’s started going downhill a few years back, Hussey proposed the idea of Betty’s to her business partner. A longtime Ferndale resident, Hussey had moved to Grand Rapids for about a year prior to her proposed idea.

During that time, she became fond of the eclectic nature of the city, the craft beer scene and the bars. Her vision and idea of One Eyed Betty’s became somewhat homage to the city she had grown to love.

“I really wanted it to feel like the places that felt so good in Grand Rapids,” she said. “The way people are, it’s such a craft beer-centric city that I wanted to bring it back here.”

The construction was quick and took just a little over one month. Redesigning the former restaurant included knocking down walls, taking out booths, extending the bar and redoing the floor.

“It was totally gutted in 34 days. Quite a feat,” Hussey said. “And when we opened, it totally took off.”

So what else makes One Eyed Betty’s special aside from the story and edgy atmosphere? Beer, of course!

Betty’s currently houses 44 taps and countless bottles, all of which are updated regularly.

When it comes to the beer selection, Bar Manager and resident “Beer Guy” Michael Fredenburg wants customers to try them all.

“I want people to realize they can have a fantastic beer that isn’t supporting some mega-corporation,” he said. “If they come in for one beer specifically, that’s great. But then, I want to show them a new one.”

Even days where he has no managerial duty, you might find Fredenburg at the bar educating and encouraging customers.

“My favorite thing to do is find people and talk to them. And get them to absolutely love beer,” he said.

“I find that lady who hasn’t had a good beer in 20 years. Maybe she doesn’t like beer,” Fredenburg said. “I tell her she’s drinking the wrong beer. Then I show her. Everytime, they say, ‘Yeah, you got me.’ That gives me goose bumps.”

Half of the current tap list is solely dedicated to Michigan brews, something that just happened to work out perfectly with their original plan.

“When Beth concepted the place, the idea was half Michigan and half the rest of the world,” Fredenburg said.

“I got lucky the way it worked out. We had 44 taps and two chalkboards and it all divided up really easy,” Hussey said. “Michigan is the bulk of it. Not to mention, I think some of the greatest beers come from Michigan.”

But keeping customers posted on all of the beer updates isn’t the easiest thing. Hussey said the menu system and printing are a large investment, but worth it.

“A mark that’s missed in multi-tap concept bars is having an up-to-date beer list,” she said. “Our list is literally up-to-date to the minute. Very rarely will you come in and order a beer and find that it’s out.”

The menu is printed on chipboard paper and fits well with the overall theme of the bar.

“It’s a lot of work, but it’s one of the most important things we do,” Hussey said.

One Eye Betty’s has also played host to several themed beer dinners, including many Michigan breweries like Dark Horse and the up and coming Odd Side Ales.

And despite all of the success over the past year, Hussey knows the beer is really only partially to thank.

“There are a couple of things that set us apart from other beer bars,” she said. “One is the staff. Some of the other places, where they miss the mark is the friendliness of the staff.”

One of Hussey’s goals for Betty’s was to take the snobiness away from beer.

“I really wanted to make sure that we never made anyone feel like that,” she said. “I knew we’d get the beer geeks, but I also knew that most of our customers would be new to craft beer.”

In the beginning, Hussey wanted an atmosphere that was “really comfortable, really casual and a little edgy.

“I think we’ve accomplished that,” she said.

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