Chubby Squirrels & Concrete Dinosaurs: The Return of Right Brain Brewery

Morning light on East Bay: somber, but lovely!

By MIKE NORTON

In most places the season of rebirth and renewal usually takes place in the spring, not the fall. Autumn, with its hectic colors and shortening days, has more somber associations as a rule.

But if you’re a fan of awesome craft beer (and Lord knows, I surely am) there’s one major resurrection taking place in Traverse City this fall – the long-awaited reopening of Right Brain Brewery.

True brew lovers in this part of the world can argue incessantly over the question of Right Brain’s place in the local craft-beer pantheon. (Some give them the number-one spot, others rank them just behind Short’s Brewing of Bellaire. It’s kind of a Ginger vs. Mary Ann thing….) But nobody can deny that barber/brewer Russ Springsteen and his crew have had a lot to do with Traverse City’s emergence as one of the country’s major craft-brewing hotbeds. Draft magazine named us one of Americas’ three newest Emerging Beer Towns (along with St. Louis and Oklahoma City), and the Travel Channel says we’re one of the top seven  beer destinations in North America.

I’ve always loved their beer – and their astonishingly low happy hour prices. But what I especially love about Right Brain is its “family pub” atmosphere, where you could have an after-work chat with friends, play board games with your kids or just have a little quiet time without a lot of TV or music blasting in your ear. (And it was also cool that they had a window through which you could watch people getting their hair cut and styled at the Saloon Salon next door.)

Just after Memorial Day, Russ and his crew packed up their equipment and closed their astonishingly popular brewpub on Garland Street in Traverse City’s Warehouse District for what was supposed to be a brief hiatus before reopening in new digs in a former factory on 16th Street – on the west side of Boardman Lake between Cass Street and the railroad tracks. They were supposed to reopen on June 15.

What followed was a bureaucratic nightmare of such depressing predictability that I haven’t the heart to go into it here. Suffice it to say that Right Brain remained closed for the entire summer, missing the most profitable season of the tourism year (and a particularly hot, thirst-producing year it was, too) and causing great disappointment to its many fans.

Inside the new Right Brain Brewery pub on 16th StreetInside the new 16th Street Right Brain Brewery pub.

Finally, the long wait is over. And although I miss having Right Brain a few handy yards away from my office, the new Sixteenth Street digs will give them ten times the space they had down here by the Bay, which will allow them to bottle and can their brews for distribution around the state. And it’ll make the pub a lot bigger, too.

Anyway, the brewery is back up and running (the address is 225 E. 16th St.), with new brews like Chubby Squirrel – a tasty autumn ale – and a dark IPA they’re calling Concrete Dinosaur that I haven’t tried yet. Even better, they’re planning a huge grand opening celebration on Saturday, October 20. From 2 p.m. to closing you can  enjoy an all-day street fair and flea market-themed event  with more than 50 local artists, vendors and street performers — plus a raffle, clothing exchange, live models from Salon Saloon, caricature drawings, a special menu of beer-inspired street food from the Roaming Harvest food truck, and live acoustic street performers like E Minor, Jimmy Olson, and Billy Strings.

(Bring the kids, too; face painting games and prizes are included.) Free entertainment from three northern Michigan bands – The Accidentals, K.Jones & The Benzie Playboys, and The Fundubmentals — starts at 8 p.m.

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About mikelovestc

These days, I’m the media relations guy for the Traverse City Convention & Visitors Bureau, but before that I spent 25 years as a reporter and columnist at the Traverse City Record-Eagle, a job that frequently took me out into the most remote backroads, forests, beaches and islands of the beautiful Grand Traverse Region. My strategy was pretty simple — just drive, paddle, ski or walk until you’re certain you’re lost, and then find somebody to talk to. It was a great job! I never intended to live in Traverse City. I grew up in Grand Rapids, spent four years in the Coast Guard in places like Miami Beach, Monterey and San Francisco, and when I finally graduated from college I took a summer job at the Miami Herald. To my surprise, I discovered I didn’t like the tropics nearly as much as I thought I would — and when the Record-Eagle offered me a job I took it, figuring I’d put in a year or two and head off to someplace like Seattle or Portland. What I discovered very quickly is that this place gets to you in a variety of unexpected ways. The beaches here are as lovely as anyplace else I’ve ever been, the weather is mild all year round — warm enough for swimming in September and cold enough for skiing in December — and just about the time you’re getting tired of one season you get another one every bit as pleasant. The people are laid-back and friendly, the music and arts scene is awesome, and the place still hasn’t gotten so sophisticated that a guy like me feels out of place.
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One Response to Chubby Squirrels & Concrete Dinosaurs: The Return of Right Brain Brewery

  1. Pingback: Wednesday, October 3, 2012 « Tipsy Teetotaler

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