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traverse city beer week

Typically, November in Northern Michigan means dark skies before 6:00 p.m., shorter business hours, and an exodus of summer and fall visitors. However, Traverse City Beer Week keeps the area energized with a wide array of special events meant to highlight the creativity and successes of the Traverse City beer scene. This year’s Traverse City Beer Week took place from November 11-17, and contained over 50 events.

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And while Traverse City Beer Week might attract some outside visitors, it is also a great opportunity for locals to enjoy their hometown before winter settles in. With special tastings, exclusive tappings, and unique pairings, it is easy to find a quick stop after work or enjoy an evening out with friends.

This year, The Little Fleet held a different themed event each night of the week. Monday was Founders Bingo. It was free to play, and various Founders brews were on tap, including some exclusive free samples. The Founders rep was also on site to call numbers and give away prizes.  

On Tuesday, The Little Fleet hosted a rare release from Lagunitas, a world premiere of Slow Tako from Brewery Vivant on Wednesday, a sour beer night on Thursday, and a Seafood Dinner on Friday.

Most of these events were casual, making it easy to stop in after work for something special. For instance, Sour Beer Night featured sour beers on tap from various breweries, including Jolly Pumpkin, Short’s, and various cellar exclusives. The weather was warm enough to sit outside, which made an exclusive beer after work even more enjoyable.

Other breweries and taprooms throughout downtown held similar style events. Rare Bird Brewpub hosted a Founders and Dark Horse Tap Jam. Upon walking into Rare Bird, it appeared to be an average evening. However, with a closer look, brewery reps were giving away swag and taps featured an equal selection of Founders and Dark Horse brews. Founders KBS was on tap, as well as Bourbon Barrel Aged Plead The 5th Imperial Stout from Dark Horse. This was only the second time that the barrel aged version of Plead The 5th Imperial Stout had been on tap in Traverse City.

7 Monks Taproom has become known for its unique pairings and themed events during Traverse City Beer Week. This year, the taproom dedicated an evening to Traverse City’s brewing history. The Filling Station brewed a historically inspired Kratochvil Bohemian Pilsner to be a featured tap for the evening, and a large beer history timeline was on display. So, with a pilsner in hand, many visited with friends during happy hour while also examining the timeline. The timeline featured artifacts, maps, and interesting information regarding some of Traverse City’s first breweries.

TC Beer Week

traverse city beer weekMany cities have their own beer weeks which highlight the best of the local craft beer scene. Traverse City Beer Week, held every November, does just that with its own twist. Traverse City has made its mark on the beer map with over a dozen breweries, hundreds of acres of hops, and one of the top 100 beer bars in the country: there’s plenty to celebrate.
This will be the fourth year for Traverse City Beer Week (TCBW), and events will take place from November 11 through November 17. Every year, Imperial Beverage coordinates with breweries, restaurants, and other distributors to highlight the area’s booming beer scene. A wide variety of events take place throughout the week, offering something for everyone.

And, as the beer scene has evolved in Traverse City, so too has TCBW. Some traditions have held strong, like the Short’s Pub Crawl, while venues like 7 Monks, Little Fleet, and Right Brain Brewery get more creative every year.

“We aim to exceed expectations, have fun, and be adventurous,” said Matthew Blanchfield from Imperial Beverage.

traverse city beer weekTraverse City Beer Week has a local focus, but is not just designed for locals. It can be a great week to travel to Traverse City, which is known to be quite busy in the summer time. By November, festivals have slowed down, the weather has cooled, and the tourists have left.

“Fall and beer just go together,” added Coryn Briggs, Digital Marketing & Design Specialist for Traverse City Tourism.

If you’re looking to partake in Traverse City Beer Week, there are a number of ways to enjoy it. TCBW works nicely around any budget and any schedule. Most events are free to attend (with the exception of cost of beer/food) and happen throughout the day.

traverse city beer weekIf you’re from the area, simply attend an event or two after work or stop in to your favorite bottle shop for a beer tasting.  This is a good way to explore new places and brews, as well as experience some of your favorites in new ways.

If you’re from out of town, it’s easy to find a fun place to stay for the weekend. Many area hotels offer special “Fall Fab” packages through the season and still have availability for beer week. If you cannot commit to the entire weekend, beer week is a great reason to take a day trip up north. For instance, you could run (or walk) in the Great Beerd Run in the morning, and then enjoy a nice beer pairing in the evening.

The luxury of Traverse City Beer Week is that there’s more than enough going on to keep everyone busy, but there’s no major commitment to make and each person’s experience can vary.

“It’s good for any type of drinker: we offer everything from casual beer tastings where you can grab a six-pack and go, to five course beer pairing dinners,” said Briggs.

Events to consider:

Short’s Pub Crawl

If you know Short’s, you know it does things a little differently. This rings true for the pub crawl the Short’s crew puts on every year to kick things off on Friday night.

“We try to coordinate a different Short’s beer at each stop,” said Matt Blanchfield from Imperial Beverage.

At the start of the crawl, each participant gets a punch card and then can “choose their own adventure.”

“There’s no set timeline, so you can go on your own. It keeps things busy and staggered throughout the night. And once you get five to six punches, you get a t-shirt,” said Rachel Payne, Short’s Northern Michigan Beer Liberator..

The Short’s crew is usually on site to help direct the crawl, but people travel in all directions along the route. Tip: Start at the opposite end to avoid large crowds.

Guided Beer Tastings

“These are a good way to try something new. And the brewery rep is usually on hand to answer questions,” said Payne.

Guided tastings take place throughout the week, are free, and happen in a variety of locations. These work well if you’re looking for a free and/or quick event. These events work well for a quick stop after work or before eating dinner at a downtown restaurant.

Great Beerd Run

Are you a runner who also enjoys beer? The Great Beerd Run just might be for you. This 5k race is held at the Grand Traverse Resort, features local craft breweries, and fun swag.

traverse city beer week

“There are beer samples at each mile marker and a gathering after,” said Payne.

This year, the race will be on Saturday November 12. Visit http://www.thegreatbeerdrun.com/ to register.

North Versus South Beer Pairing

Another event held at the Grand Traverse Resort, the North vs. South pairing is a more formal event for TCBW.

“Last year, similar style beers from Short’s and Atwater were paired with dishes coordinated by the Aerie chefs,” explained Blanchfield.

This event, and other formal beer dinners, may require the purchase of a ticket.

Tap Takeovers and Beer Pairings

traverse city beer weekRestaurants and taprooms throughout downtown hold their own events throughout the week.
Takeovers feature not only local breweries, but also
Michigan favorites and other well-known breweries throughout the country. Pairings often combine beer and unique food options: tacos, desserts, cheese, etc.


There are a wide array of other options as well. As events are planned, they will be added to the
Traverse City Beer Week website. Traverse City Beer Week information and highlights can also be found on their Facebook page or by following #HoppyinTC.  

 

 

Sponsored by Traverse City Tourism

Photography courtesy Traverse City Tourism

Traverse City Beer Week came to a close over the weekend, and the 7 Monks Twelve Tap Taco Takeover highlighted the best the week had to offer.
The event featured 12 Short’s brews paired with four new and adventurous tacos. The menu offered suggested pairings for each taco, but participants were able to explore on their own.
The taco menu included a Classic Thanksgiving Taco and a Crawfish and Chorizo Stuffed Taco. The Classic Thanksgiving Taco was stuffed with turkey and sweet potato casserole and topped with a cranberry ginger chutney in a fried flour tortilla. This taco paired nicely with Short’s Paterfamilias, a cider/beer blend.
The Crawfish and Chorizo Taco took things in a different direction with crawfish and chorizo stuffed into a taco along with mustard greens and haystack onions. This “gumbo-esque” taco paired well with Hellacious Rock.
7 Monks hosted a variety of events throughout the week, each highlighting the originality of this region’s beer. The Taco Takeover did this, while also showcasing the area’s creativity with food. Where else can you get a Thanksgiving taco?

Traverse City Beer Week came to a close over the weekend, and the 7 Monks Twelve Tap Taco Takeover highlighted the best the week had to offer.

The event featured 12 Short’s brews paired with four new and adventurous tacos. The menu offered suggested pairings for each taco, but participants were able to explore on their own.

The taco menu included a Classic Thanksgiving Taco and a Crawfish and Chorizo Stuffed Taco. The Classic Thanksgiving Taco was stuffed with turkey and sweet potato casserole and topped with a cranberry ginger chutney in a fried flour tortilla. This taco paired nicely with Short’s Paterfamilias, a cider/beer blend.

The Crawfish and Chorizo Taco took things in a different direction with crawfish and chorizo stuffed into a taco along with mustard greens and haystack onions. This “gumbo-esque” taco paired well with Hellacious Rock.

7 Monks hosted a variety of events throughout the week, each highlighting the originality of this region’s beer. The Taco Takeover did this, while also showcasing the area’s creativity with food. Where else can you get a Thanksgiving taco?

Despite the cold and snow, Traverse City Beer Week continues to take over downtown Traverse City. And 7 Monks Taproom, known for its vast beer selection, is hosting several events throughout the week.

“We saw some really great participation city-wide last year and really hope that we see even more this year,” stated Jason Kasdorf, General Manager of 7 Monks Taproom.

7 Monks has become an integral part of Traverse City Beer Week and is hosting an event nearly every night. After serving as a stop along the Short’s Pub Crawl Friday night, 7 Monks hosted Michigan Beer Night on Monday.

The gastropub highlighted the diversity in Michigan beer by dedicating many of its taps to a wide range of Michigan beers. Beers of all types from breweries like Bell’s, Right Brain, Stormcloud Brewing, Greenbush and Short’s were featured. Some of my favorites were on the list, including Odd Side’s Citra Pale Ale and Founders’ Nitro Oatmeal Stout. There were also a number of new and elusive brews I had yet to try.

In an attempt to decide which beer to try, I asked Kasdorf if he had a favorite. “I certainly do not, they are all my favorite,” he began. “All joking aside I really enjoy Brewery Vivant’s Devastation, and the Dark Horse 2013 4 Elf is drinking really nice right now.”

With his recommendation, I tried the Dark Horse 2013 4 Elf. The 4 Elf is a spiced winter warmer ale. Tasting like the holidays, it had a nice blend of nutmeg, clove and other spices. It complimented the snowy weather and paired nicely with my European Grilled Cheese and Tomato Bisque.

Other beers featured included Bell’s Honey Hearted — an Imperial IPA that packed a punch with a 16.3% ABV — and Greenbush Brewing Company’s Sotto Voce — a witbier brewed with oranges and a variety of spices.

The selection of beer available at Michigan Beer Night reflected a growing interest in beer that takes drinkers in a different direction. “(Customers) know what styles they like and don’t like. They are eager to try new beer, in some cases maybe a new style for them, and they enjoy discussion,” stated Kasdorf.

This eagerness to try something new has lead to over 50 planned events throughout the week, with each aiming to broader beer lovers’ experiences. Some events highlight one brewery, while others offer specific beer pairings. Michigan Beer Night simply highlighted the best the state has to offer, and allowed participants to experiment.

“It creates a great atmosphere to serve beer in and enables us to continue to bring in great beer from all over the state and host fun events like Beer Week,” Kasdorf concluded.

7 Monks continues the fun throughout Traverse City Beer Week with a Jolly Pumpkin and 12% Imports Wednesday night, Founders Brewing Night on Thursday, and a Taco Takeover with Short’s on Friday.

There was a lot to learn on Sunday as Brewery Ferment hosted Homebrewer’s Day as a part of Traverse City Beer Week.
Bryan Snyder, owner of Bad Teacher Brewing Supply, was on-site to guide attendees through the brewing process. Bad Teacher Brewing Supply recently celebrated its second anniversary and has seen a steady increase in business.
Schedules have slowed down from the summer, fruit has been harvested and the weather has gotten cooler.
“We’re entering our busy season,” stated Snyder.
Bad Teacher Brewing Supply is one of the few brewing supply stores in the area, and also offers educational workshops regularly. Beer week was a great opportunity for Snyder to reach out to a broader audience.
And Brewery Ferment was the perfect location for the event to take place. Dustin Jones, co-owner and head brewer of Brewery Ferment, is known for his experimental small batch brews. Focusing on local ingredients in small batches allows him to stay true to a recipe, without having to worry about large scale distribution.
Jones and Snyder worked together on the homebrewed belgian ale, brewed outside in the snow and rain. Participants were able to see the brewing process from start to finish. Ferment also offered beer specials and had the Lions game on TV.
Brewery Ferment is hosting a variety of other events throughout Traverse City Beer Week. To view the full schedule of events, visit http://www.traversecity.com/events-523/.

There was a lot to learn on Sunday as Brewery Ferment hosted Homebrewer’s Day as a part of Traverse City Beer Week.

Bryan Snyder, owner of Bad Teacher Brewing Supply, was on-site to guide attendees through the brewing process. Bad Teacher Brewing Supply recently celebrated its second anniversary and has seen a steady increase in business.

Schedules have slowed down from the summer, fruit has been harvested and the weather has gotten cooler.

“We’re entering our busy season,” stated Snyder.

Bad Teacher Brewing Supply is one of the few brewing supply stores in the area, and also offers educational workshops regularly. Beer week was a great opportunity for Snyder to reach out to a broader audience.

And Brewery Ferment was the perfect location for the event to take place. Dustin Jones, co-owner and head brewer of Brewery Ferment, is known for his experimental small batch brews. Focusing on local ingredients in small batches allows him to stay true to a recipe, without having to worry about large scale distribution.

Jones and Snyder worked together on the homebrewed belgian ale, brewed outside in the snow and rain. Participants were able to see the brewing process from start to finish. Ferment also offered beer specials and had the Lions game on TV.

Brewery Ferment is hosting a variety of other events throughout Traverse City Beer Week. To view the full schedule of events, visit http://www.traversecity.com/events-523/.

TRAVERSE CITY — Sure, beer festivals are great to attend and specialty releases are exciting, but what about a showdown for the best IPA?

The Traverse City Ale Trail IPA Challenge, held Thursday night at The Little Fleet, brought the first ever showdown of its kind to the area. Done as a blind tasting, the event gave attendees the chance to judge beer without knowing who was behind it. And for someone like myself who prefers a stout, it put my beer tasting skills to the test.

Upon entering, I was given a tasting glass and an official ballot sheet. Going in a logical order, I tore off the “1” on my ballot sheet and handed it to the bartender. Not knowing what I was getting was tough and made me drink my beer a bit slower, taking time to consider the variety of flavors.

There was a place on the ballot to take notes for each IPA. As I worked my way through each tasting, I took note of a large array of flavor profiles: bitter, earthy, floral, hints of pineapple and perhaps a bit of coffee. I like a beer that stands out from the crowd, and knew when I had found the one I would vote for. I placed my vote in the voting jar and awaited the results.

There was also a panel of celebrity judges, which added another dimension to the challenge. Celebrity judges ranged from Brian Tennis, of the Michigan Hop Alliance and Katrina Jenkins, Brew Manager for the Microbrew & Music Festival, to Brad Van Dommelen, President & CEO of Traverse City Tourism.

“I really enjoyed the experience as a judge because it really caused me to carefully consider multiple characteristics for each IPA we were tasting,” explained Van Dommelen.

After votes from attendees and judges were tallied up and the names of the secret brews were released, the winners were revealed. From the top of the bar, it was announced that the unique Brewery Ferment took third place. Then, second place was given to newcomer Rare Bird Brewpub. First place — drumroll please — went to long-standing brewer John Niedermaier from Brewery Terra Firma.

“Being the newest brewery in town and being a female brewer, I felt like I had something to prove,” explained Tina Schuett, co-owner and Head Brewer for Rare Bird. “It was a huge honor to get second place. There’s nobody better to get second to. John Niedermaier is a legend in Northern Michigan brewing.”

Schuett and Niedermaier actually collaborated on the Rare Bird IPA, due to Rare Bird’s licensing restrictions. They crafted the recipe together, which included five hop varieties. Schuett brewed her recipe at Brewery Terra Firma and entered the challenge without being able to taste her final product.

This allowed her to also participate in the challenge with an unbiased perspective. This made taking second place even more exciting. “It gave me a real feeling like I’m doing something right knowing that people picked it blindly,” Schuett stated.

The “unbiased perspective” of the IPA Challenge added an exciting element for all attending the event. Events like this, coupled with the TC Ale Trail, TC Cycle Pub and a general creative approach to beer have created a dynamic atmosphere for beer lovers.

“When you offer specialty beer events like the IPA Challenge, Traverse City Beer Week or others it does attract people with the specific interest to learn about and enjoy our local beers,” stated Van Dommelen.

The IPA Challenge exemplified the booming Traverse City beer scene. While it was a challenge at heart, the event really showcased the great talent we have in the area. And with 17 breweries in the surrounding region, Traverse City’s beer culture will only continue to grow and evolve.

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