Traverse City, MI – This November, Right Brain Brewery will debut their 2016 CEO Stout Boardroom Series brews. The series is based on Right Brain’s flagship brand CEO Stout, which is a light bodied, sessionable stout brewed with real coffee from Roaster Jack’s (Traverse City).rightbrain_boardroom

This year’s line-up will include Bourbon Barrel-Aged CEO, Imperial CEO, Peanut Butter CEO, and Pumpkin Spice CEO, all brewed with real natural ingredients made in house, or locally sourced. “The idea for the Boardroom Series came out of the love of pairing beer with food. Peanut butter and chocolate are amazing, and who doesn’t love having coffee with their pumpkin pie? There are so many things you can pair with rich chocolate and coffee flavors, which made it hard to narrow down the series to four beers,” says Right Brain owner Russell Springsteen.

The CEO Boardroom Series will be released November 25th (Black Friday) at Right Brain Brewery’s tap room in Traverse City, and will be available in 22 oz bottles and on draft. The series will also be released into distribution around Michigan in very limited quantities.


Kayak, Bike and Brew

There are a number of ways to have a memorable Traverse City adventure throughout the summer and fall. With 19 breweries and taprooms, alongside unique tour options such as TC Ale Trail, TC Cycle Pub, Brew Bus, and Paddle for Pints, there seems to be something for everyone.

Kayak_Bike_Brew (8)The most recent addition to this band of experiences is Kayak, Bike and Brew, which allows participants to explore the downtown area by pedal and paddle. Recently, MittenBrew joined a tour to get an inside glimpse at how this unique experience works.

Upon arrival, we were prompted to put together a swag bag and test out a bike. The swag set the tone for the good times ahead: sunglasses, tattooes, stickers, Kind bar, $10 Pangea’s Pizza Pub gift card, a TC Ale Trail map, and a bag to put it all in.

Our guide, Paul, made sure we were comfortable on our bikes and gave us a run-down of our route before we took off. Then, to start the tour, we pedaled across a bridge (that we would soon paddle under), went through a tunnel, and made our way onto the Traverse Area Recreation Trail (TART). We rode the trail along the water, through a downtown neighborhood, and merged onto the Boardman Lake Trail. We crossed another bridge, which led us to our first stop: Right Brain Brewery.

Kayak_Bike_Brew (1)

Once inside, we were given forty minutes to enjoy a brew or two. It was 90 degrees outside, so most opted for something light and refreshing. This particular tour group only consisted of six people (some get as big as twenty), so we were able to get to know each other as we sipped at our first stop. There was a couple from Detroit, and another from Chicago. Both were up for long weekends and a desire to explore the wide variety of beer in the area.

Our group continued on to our second stop by hopping back onto our bikes and taking the Boardman Lake Trail back around the lake to The Filling Station Microbrewery. With saison in hand, pizza on the table, and live music in the background, this was a great summer stop.

After The Filling Station, we switched from bikes to kayaks. We launched our kayaks right behind The Filling Station, along Boardman Lake and into Boardman River. We paddled past condominiums, under bridges, and around large trees to the Union Street dam.

This was our portage point for our third stop, which would be Rarebird Brewpub. Our guide stayed with us at each stop, checking in, inquiring about our beer selection, and giving out suggestions for other great local spots to stop, all while keeping us on time.

In fact, we found ourselves with a little bit of extra time, and were able to squeeze in an extra stop at Brewery Ferment. Then it was back to our kayaks for the rest of our paddling adventure. This leg of the river had more tree cover, with periodic exposure of downtown buildings and parking lots.

We paddled past many downtown landmarks and soon approached the last river bend. Part of the Boardman River’s beauty is this last bend—it is where you transition from a secluded urban river to a wide open bay. Turning this bend suddenly revealed the Grand Traverse Bay we, and would take us along the final stretch of our tour into Clinch Park.

Once the paddling ended, the tour crew loaded the kayaks, and we made our way back to Pangea’s. The whole tour lasted roughly four hours, was a smaller compliment to Paddle for Pints, and allowed for new comradery and plenty of fun.

To learn more or book your own Kayak, Bike & Brew  tour, visit

summer beer fest

The frozen washcloths helped. So did the shady trees. But the biggest relief from the sweltering heat was the beer. Because that is what this festival is about—beer. Specifically, Michigan craft beer.

Oh, I’ve read the negative reviews. The festival has gotten too big, too noisy, too full of casual drinkers who don’t know a pilsner from a pale ale. To which I say, what of it? This event, these two days in Ypsilanti, are about beer. Getting people to drink local beer—from the “gray beards” who have been brewing since before I was born to the people who were born the year I could have my first legal drink. It’s all about the beer.

And this year, I am once again proud to announce my top five beers of the 2016 Summer Beer Fest.

The Winner—Hands down, the Mauj Cucumber Lime Gose from Arbor Brewing Company won the day. It is what a mojito wants to be. It is what a refreshing beer wants to be. It is what all of us want to be. Perfectly balanced and absolutely perfect for the 105-degree heat index, this is the beer of the summer for me.

While I was at the Arbor booth, I asked Rene Greff which beer I should try, she immediately recommended this one. “It’s super refreshing for a day like today,” she said. “And Mauj means fun and frolick in Hindi and is the word one of our Indian partners uses for ‘cheers!’.” This fact just made the beer all the more enjoyable.

Other Amazing Offerings

Under the tutelage of brewer Gabi Palmer, Schmohz turns out very reliable, solid beers. This year, the women of Fermenta joined her to make a Mint Chocolate Chip Stout. At first, I doubted the idea of a stout on such a hot day, but I quickly changed my mind as I drank this well balanced beer. It was neither heavy nor syrupy sweet. The chocolate and mint tastes definitely came through, but they accented rather than overwhelmed the beer.

Another refreshing taste came from Griffin Claw’s And So It Goes. The brewery’s own Angie Williams recommended this gose beer, adding that it was brewed as part of the International Women’s Collaboration Brew Day. When I said that I didn’t want a beer that was too tart, she promised, “It’s got some tartness, but not enough to make your face pucker up.” That turned out to be the perfect description for this well balanced beer. Made with blood oranges, there was just the right hint of salt to add the ideal twang to this wheaty beer.

summer beer fest

Right Brain’s Cake Walk is made with Madagascar vanilla beans and that, like taking the road less traveled, made all the difference in this cream ale. Generally, cream ales are hit or mess for me—some are too heavy and sweet, others seem to have no taste. Right Brain, as usual, hit the perfect spot with this beer.

Pike 51’s Pulp Friction was another home run. I really, really try not to pick a beer based on its name; however, Pulp Fiction is one of my all-time favorite movies. Also, I have never been disappointed by a beer from Pike 51, so I figured it was worth a try to see if it lived up to its namesake and to the soul of Marsellus Wallace. The beer was labeled a “fruit beer,” but it was more of a shandy. A lightly malted wheat ale with just enough citrus made it the perfect beer with which to end the very hot festival. The soul of Mr. Wallace can rest easy in that briefcase.

Another summer beer fest comes to a close. But look on the bright side! Only 363 days until the next one!


Photography: Erik Smith

Traverse City, MI – At this year’s Michigan Brewers Guild Summer Beer Festival on July 22nd & 23rd in Ypsilanti, MI, Right Brain Brewery will be doing more than just serving beer. They will also offer samples of the Marou chocolate that was used to make XOCO, an imperial golden ale brewed with Marou dark chocolate and cocoa nibs. XOCO will debut at the beer festival as well. The concept for XOCO derived from the strong relationship building of Right Brain sales rep David Springsteen. “It’s what makes the craft beer business so fun; a simple conversation with someone turned it to magic with this beer,” says Springsteen.

Right BrainXOCO’s golden color is blanketed with a soft hue of chocolate. Cocoa nibs added during aging impart a nutty chocolate aroma, followed by a Vietnamese cocoa flavor. The beer finishes with a subdued boozy flavor, making for a very drinkable 9.2% ABV high gravity ale. “It’s been truly rewarding to see an idea come together with such passion. Right Brain Brewery has surpassed all my expectations,” says Marou Owner/Importer Ewa Mourou, who initiated the collaboration.

Another Right Brain Summer Festival release is a raspberry rhubarb IPA, a collaborative brew they did with Michigan women brewers group, Fermenta. Adventurous beer drinkers will also be able to sample Right Brain’s Great American Beer Festival gold medal winning Mangalitsa Pig Porter.

More information on this weekend’s Michigan Brewers Guild Summer Festival can be found at

Traverse City, Mich – Just in time for Traverse City’s world famous National Cherry Festival, Right Brain Brewery will debut their 2016 Cherry Pie Whole beer. Cherry Pie Whole is a medium bodied amber ale brewed using whole cherry pies (crust and filling) from Grand Traverse Pie Company, and Balaton cherry concentrate from Northern Natural Cider House and Winery. The flavor of Cherry Pie Whole is described by its name. The aroma brings to mind a graham cracker crust pie straight out of the oven, followed by a balance of caramel from the amber ale and tart sweetness imparted by the cherry pie filling, which is used during fermentation.

cherry pie whole beer

The beer is part of a larger series Right Brain brews called the Pie Whole Series, which includes Blueberry Pie Whole, Pecan Pie Whole, and Apple Pie Whole. The idea for this series stemmed from a speech Right Brain owner, Russ Springsteen, gave at the University of Michigan where he discussed the creation of Right Brain’s Great American Beer Festival gold medalist, Mangalitsa Pig Porter. The owner of Grand Traverse Pie Company was in attendance, and asked Springsteen, “If you can brew a beer with pig heads and bones, why can’t you brew a beer with whole pies?” “So, the rest of the story is a new partnership was formed,” says Mike Busley, co-founder of Grand Traverse Pie Company. “Our partnerships with other Michigan companies like Right Brain are a great way to support entrepreneurial opportunities within the agricultural and food businesses of our state. Our initiatives with Right Brain support these values while promoting Pure Michigan’s cherry and micro beer industry, so cheers to the 2016 Cherry Pie Whole beer!”

Cherry Pie Whole will debut at Right Brain Brewery’s Traverse City tap room on Friday, July 1st, and will be available on draft, with to-go growler fills offered as well.


right brainTraverse City, MI – Right Brain Brewery will once again team up with breweries, wineries, cideries, and distilleries from all over the Midwest on a series of brews that will be tapped at their Collaboration Day festival.

The annual event begins Friday, February 12th, with the release of multiple barrel-aged beer collaborations and live music with The Moxie Strings. The Ann Arbor-based trio will take the stage at 7PM.

Festivities continue Saturday, February 13th, with the full release of Collaboration Day’s brews. Special Right Brain Brewery employee brews will also be available.

This year’s collaborations include a peanut butter-bacon beer, a Belgian Dubbel aged in Port Wine barrels, bourbon barrel-aged beers, an ale brewed with toffee and maple syrup, a Belgian Saison blended with hard cider, and roughly ten other collaborations on tap.

All collaborations are brewed with real ingredients, as extracts, flavorings, and any other unnatural ingredients are strictly prohibited at Right Brain Brewery. Collaboration Day beers will not be bottled or distributed, they will only be available at the brewery.

Collaboration Day concludes with the Hot Licks and Cherry Jam Guitar Competition beginning at 8pm.

Collaboration Day is family-friendly and there’s no cover charge to attend.

For more information, visit

TRAVERSE CITY — Summertime in Northern Michigan means spending as much time along the water as possible. And even with rain looming overhead, hundreds took to the water on Saturday for a unique paddling adventure.

Paddle for Pints, now in its second year, is a TC Ale Trail event and combines some of Traverse City’s best features: fresh water, craft brews and delicious food. Similar to a pub crawl, this pub paddle takes attendees to six downtown breweries all while paddling down the Boardman River.

Starting at the Filling Station, paddlers launch across Boardman Lake to get to Right Brain Brewery. A paddle back across the lake winds into the river, which paddlers take to the Union Street portage point. The next stops include Brewery Ferment and Rare Bird Brewpub. After hopping back into kayaks, participants complete the paddle at Clinch Park, with stops at North Peak and Workshop Brewing.

The concept was successful in its first year and is in even higher demand this year. This year started with eight events, each with three waves. Each of these eight events sold out before summer really even started. In an effort to stay on top of demand, TC Ale Trail co-founder Troy Daily added Paddle for Pints 2.0, which added eleven paddle dates. The 2.0 events are smaller, with just one wave and four breweries.

Expanding at such a great capacity takes a tremendouseffort to keep things running smoothly. Building from last year, Daily and his team were able to coordinate with breweries and other local officials to ensure a positive experience for attendees.

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“The success this year is in the people and my team. Eighteen paid employees help out for each of the big events which makes things run a lot more smooth,” said Daily.

And things did run smooth and efficiently. The Paddle for Pints team ensured everyone arrived safely at each stop, helped portage kayaks, and blew whistles to keep everyone moving on time. They were even on hand to keep supervise kayaks at the end. This led to an enjoyable experience for all, and it is what has groups sharing their experiences and/or planning trips with friends and family.

“For each event, at least 85% of the people have been from out of town,” said Daily.

In fact, there have been some events where nearly 97% of the attendees were not from Traverse City. Groups from Chicago, Indiana and Ohio were present at Saturday’s event and many had plans to explore the surrounding area.

“The power of social media is why it is so popular this year and will continue to be,” stated Daily.

As the event becomes more popular, the local economy continues to benefit. From food specials at the breweries to having time at the end to further explore downtown, attendees were able to experience more than just unique brews. Visiting the six breweries through a unique experience gives those from the area and from outside the area a taste of what downtown can offer.

While all of this year’s events are sold out, be sure to stay tuned to for more information about next year’s offerings.

Style: American Amber Ale
ABV: 5.8%
Glassware: Nonic Pint

Appearance: Certainly not clear but not exactly cloudy either. As I’m drinking I notice that it has a chill haze because the brew cleared up after I let it warm up for awhile. The beer has an off white to tan colored head and a beautiful sienna colored body.

Aroma: A crisp, clean nose with notes of maize and subtle metallic water qualities. Smells like a standard American Adjunct Lager with just a touch of biscuity malt. Actually, the aroma is really toned down and it’s difficult to get anything at all.

Flavor: The storyline of the brew begins with notes of maize, which then meld into a raisin fruit character. From there it morphs into biscuity malt and finishes with a pop of earthy hops with a twinge of bitterness. In the very finish I am left with notes of Maize once again. The malt notes, recognized here as biscuit, are very muted. The hops barely balance the malt and then pop up at the end to hint at bitterness, but then retract and don’t show up again.

Mouthfeel: Low carbonation accompanies this incredibly thin-bodied brew. This is quite crisp in nature. Drinks like a clean lager.

Aftertaste: Consists of very subtle hop bitterness and the sweet, clean character of maize.

Food Accompaniment: A chicken quesadilla with salsa, sour cream, romaine, mushrooms, cheese and refried beans. The grilled portion of the chicken, the cooked mushrooms and the starch nature of the flatbread is finding a home with the subtle malt notes of the Amber Ale.

From there I notice that the exceptionally subtle capsaicin heat in both the salsa and the quesadilla itself latch onto the hop bitterness in the finish of the brew. The fatty cheese from the food finds its happy place when the clean character of the beer clears it of its greasy nature. The clean, maize notes of the brew helps to wipe out my palate after taking a bite of my food. Neither one interferes with the other and the intensity levels are spot on. I find this to be an acceptable pairing and would certainly recommend it.

Overall Impression: I’m confused by this beer. It says American Amber Ale but it drinks like an Amber or Vienna Lager. Because it is technically not a lager, I have been calling it a ‘Vienna Ale’ in my head.

The hops seem to be of the noble hop variety and the malt is biscuity, all of which makes it lean more towards the European route. I wish that this beer had more body and that it could take on the more robust role of a flavorful and malt forward American Amber Ale. Even the hops need some work. I certainly don’t mind the European hop approach, but this is an amber! You can ramp it up a bit.

Overall, I think that this brew was a bit weak and was mislabeled. However, I am intrigued and I wonder if the brewer would like to use this beer as an inspiration for a high quality Vienna style Lager or American Amber Lager. I wish them the best of luck on their future brewing endeavors! This is where great ideas begin.