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Right Brain Brewery

Not Rated.
Right Brain BreweryRight Brain Brewery
BA SCORE
90
outstanding

94 Ratings
Ratings: 94
Reviews: 46
rAvg: 4
pDev: 15.25%
Active Beers: 100
Beer Ratings: 1,264
Beer Avg: 3.71
Taps: 15
Bottles: 0
Cask: Y
Beer-to-Go: Y
[ Brewery, Bar, Eatery ]

225 E Sixteenth St Ste E
Traverse City, Michigan, 49684-4181
United States
phone: (231) 944-1239

visit their websiteWebsite view map and get directionsMap @rightbrainbrew

Notes:
None, yet.

(Place added by: Mitchster on 12-15-2007)
Place: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 94 | Reviews: 46 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of akorsak
4.28/5  rDev +7%

Right Brain is located in the warehouse district of Traverse City, about a block from Grand Traverse Bay. Day 2 of the Michigan tour began here.

Atmosphere: Right Brain is in a rather artsy area of town, behind a salon. The inside is bright and inviting, large enough to handle summer crowds. A long bar sits at a right angle along the left of the entrance. Looks like mug clubbers get to design their own earthen mugs.

Quality: We were in as soon as they opened. THe staff was friendly and the beers were tough to beat.

Service: Service was a little slow at times (my glass sat empty for too long). Ksak and I had a nice discussion with Russell and he comped me a Distill My Heart.

Selection: Eclectic doesn't do it justice. A beer with parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme? One with basil and honey? A sour barleywine that was barrel aged on vanilla beans? For real? All here and on tap. I could have spent the entire day here.

Food: They have snack food but no menu. That being said, visit this place for the beer. I can't say enough about how good it is.

akorsak, Jul 20, 2009
Photo of MilwaukeeCrusher
4.06/5  rDev +1.5%

Stopped here on a summer beer tour after hearing great things about this place. Was difficult to find, in an office building behind a beauty salon. Could see a truck unloading fresh hops though, so this had to be the place.

Inside of the place looked modern and hip. Really liked the right brain man design and wanted to get it on a t-shirt but they were all out. Onto the beer... I got a flight of beers they had and they were good but not great. It appeared that I had picked the wrong day to come, as they did not have any of their more bold beers available... and bold is what I want. Growlers were cheap so I picked up one for the road as a memento. I really wish they had some of their wilder stuff and can see something great could happen there yet again in Michigan. Maybe some summer I can again drive around stupid Lake Michigan to give it another try, or maybe better yet they'll make the car ferries more afforable for a change.

MilwaukeeCrusher, Jan 13, 2011
Photo of Deuane
4.44/5  rDev +11%

Located in the up and coming, artsy looking, downtown area, Warehouse District. Some claim it is "hard to find", I guess it could be, but my trusty Garmin took us right to the spot.

Right Brain is located in an old warehouse that also houses Salon Saloon, drink RB brew and get your hair styled at the same time! A high end coffee shop is in the building too.

We visited during their 1st year anniversary party!

Nice, socially conscious place with no TV's, light background music and a few board games if you are so inclined!

A speakeasy feel with a large open seating area, exposed piping, local artwork (for sale) adorn the walls and a dim light ambiance.

12 on tap and one on the engine. A nice, across the board selection, and an interesting line-up. Some standards, a few tweaked brews and a few that go beyond style lines and use local produce.

Despite the busy goings on, the place was packed, the tenders did a fine job at keeping us flush with beer. Nothing outstanding, but solid and dependable service.

Limited food is available at RB, some local made gourmet popcorn, hummus and pretzels. So eat at Culver's down the way before you come if your hungry!

This place has a lot of potential. I was impressed with the innovative and interesting line-up, the conversational vibe and the general feel of local support for the place. With Short's being less than an hour away, Right Brain and Short's offer a can't miss, one-two punch for the beer traveler (and local alike) in the greater Grand Traverse Bay area.

EDIT--Second visit on 6/18/09-place continues to impress with "odd" and innovative beers....come on a pale ale with grilled asparagus and lemon peel? A full list of 13 beers--all solid---and two servers that were beyond nice! Thanks to C-note and Nate for a VERY fun evening!

Deuane, Jan 04, 2009
Photo of Mothergoose03
3.83/5  rDev -4.3%

My wife and I stopped here as part of a pub crawl in northern Michigan and the UP to visit the newer brewpubs (plus several others) that have opened since our last trip ‘up north’. This place happens to be one of the ‘several others’. Although this is the first time I’ve reviewed this brewery, we’ve been here one other time after the move from their downtown location (we’ve been there a couple times too), and the only things that have changed since our last visit a year or so ago are that they now bottle/can some of their beers, plus they have a small selection of deli sandwiches that use small fresh-made waffles instead of bread.

This brewpub does not seem to get as much hype for their beers as they did at their former location, and there seems to be some lessening of the quality and selection from before that justifies that lack of hype. The brewery was not busy on a weekday evening so we were able to sit at the bar. We chose 4 different 6 oz. pours (21 beers were available) to drink while we ate our sandwiches. The beers were all good, however, none were very exciting, so we graded them in a range of B- to a C.

The waffle sandwiches were very original and very good. They are small, but that was okay because we already had a small meal at the last place we visited.

All in all, this place is still very worthy of a visit. Perhaps we chose the wrong 4 beers with which to evaluate the brews here, but this pub is worthy of a visit by anyone who likes craft beer, and we’ll go back again someday.

Mothergoose03, Oct 29, 2013
Photo of MarcatGSB
3.59/5  rDev -10.3%

Now I've visited Right Brain about a half dozen times over the past three years, and have varying experiences. The first time I went about three years ago, I really fell in love with the place. It was a great addition to the Traverse City area. The local artwork is a great feature, the beers were tasty, using alot of local, eclectic ingredients, and the vibe was fun and relaxed. I've read some things recently that say the beers have gone down hill, but in my limited experiences, they have been alright. They aren't the best beers, no Shorts, or JP, but they are better than average beers. I've had some really nice beers on cask there, which is hard to get around the way. Give it a try, there aren't an overwhelming amount of choices in the area, so you should have time to decide for yourself.
NOTE: EDIT 12-27-2012 Original score as 3.91.
I have since visited Right Brain in their new location and wanted to note some things. The original brewer is back from his stint at JP, and the quality of the breweries as definitely been re-elevated.
The new tap room is pretty impressive. It's a really cool space, spread out, with plenty of wall space for art work, kind of continuing the theme from the Warehouse District. The brewing area itself is massively larger than previous, so this should give them the room they need to grow and distribute soon. Good looking out Right Brain.

RE-EDIT: 12-17-2013 After visiting Right Brain a few more times in their new location, and tasting some of the new brews from the new brew system, my opinion has changed quite a bit. The new location is so far out of the way. We stopped by on a Saturday night around 7 o clock, and it was more or less empty feeling, and was not inviting. If the space was smaller, or could be broken up a bit, the vibe may change, but with it being so big and everyone so spread out, it really wasn't that welcoming and warm. The Anniversary brew was pretty good, and everything else we had was ok, but two visits ago, both the beers we had were butter bombs. And these werent't the first beers we've had that had that problem.
With other options popping up in Traverse City, Right Brain needs to step it up or they will find themselves on the outside looking in.

MarcatGSB, Mar 09, 2011
Photo of TheRealPour
4/5  rDev 0%

TheRealPour, Nov 01, 2013
Photo of joe1510
4.16/5  rDev +4%

Right Brain's newish location is in warehouse down in SoFo. When I walked in the door the first thing that struck me was the sheer size of this place. I patronize a couple music venues in Chicago that are smaller than this place. Tables were sparsely spread and the bar seated about 15. There was a solid number of drafts up on the dry erase boards; 6 regular offerings, 5 middle tier beers, and 5 top tier offerings. I sampled a couple pints that were good and then hit the generous sampler to try most of the others.

All beer was good to excellent with some interesting combinations thrown in the mix. A couple harvest ales were on tap, a double IPA, two saisons (one with beets), and a handful of other unique offerings. The bartenders were a little stand offish at first but when they got talking they were super friendly and informative, chatting about everything from Traverse favorites to music to beer. In the end I couldn't have been happier with the stop at Right Brain. The service was great, the beer excellent, and the prices in line with any other brewpub. Without a doubt this place is worth a stop when i Traverse.

joe1510, Oct 22, 2013
Photo of midlifec
4/5  rDev 0%

midlifec, May 04, 2014
Photo of Lynn
4/5  rDev 0%

Lynn, Apr 13, 2014
Photo of SpdKilz
4/5  rDev 0%

I have been here three times in the past three days.

Walking in was a hint confusing seeing as there is a salon out front. For those who are not locals or familiar with this location it might be a bit odd. But after the first time you know exactly where to go.
One is welcomed by a very nice and modern décor brew pub. Lots of open seating, a long L shaped bar, and a wonderfully transcribed board telling what is on tap. The three times my brother-in-law and I cam here it was a bit of off hours but the atmosphere was still great and the employees were eager to banter and BS with us about the beers. My brother-in-law and I both had a flight and then a couple other beers (at the other various times) that we enjoyed. They had some interesting beers (some I wouldn’t get again but was glad to try) but others that were solid for sure that I have enjoyed a few times.

The prices were overall good, and service great (sorry for the old fogies that feel they were not served well or are “out of the loop”…maybe they are). The selection was great, as in they had tons of RB’s own beers (no guest taps which would have been nice I will admit). We had plenty to choose from.

All in all, I have had an enjoyable experience and would recommend people to come here. The only downside was there was no real food avaliable.

SpdKilz, Aug 08, 2011
Photo of david131
4.14/5  rDev +3.5%

I initially had trouble finding this place because it shares an entrance with a salon. Once inside, I notice the open ceiling where the piping and such is visible. Once we got the attention of one of the bartenders, we finally got our drinks. I don't know what was up because when I ordered some of their more intense offerings, I kept getting the "are you sure...?" question. Eventually the bartender ended up being pretty cool and even gave us directions up to the new Jolly Pumpkin restaurant on Old Mission Peninsula. The selection was pretty good and included a couple of barrel aged beers, a tripel, and a bunch of their 'regular' offerings. If I am ever up in the area again, I will most definitely make it a point to go back to this establishment.

david131, Jul 07, 2009
Photo of Zaphog
3.75/5  rDev -6.3%

Zaphog, Nov 12, 2013
Photo of Stigs
3.73/5  rDev -6.8%

final stop on day #1 of our Michigan trip

It was pretty busy though we were able to snag two seats at the bar. Pretty cool looking place, playing off the "right brain" thing with some quirky decorations and layout.

Unfortunately, they were down to 5 (maybe 6) beers to choose from while we were there. One I was really looking forward to was the RAD (Random Alpha Docious) collaboration with Dark Horse. It was decent at best. The most intriguing selection was the Pomona Pumpkin "sour" (more tart) that was good, though didnt interest me enough to get a growler to go. Everything else was forgettable.

Service, well we were waited on and carded when we sat down and ordered a flight. To which we had to fill out which six beers we wanted - when they only had six to choose from. After that, we were pretty much left alone, and not even asked if we wanted anything else once the flight was gone.

Overall, a little bit of a letdown from what I was expecting to be a hidden gem of the trip. Not bad enough to the point where I would give it another shot if in the area though.

Stigs, Nov 17, 2010
Photo of jale
3.88/5  rDev -3%

Stopped here after spending the day at Short's eating and drinking. I did'nt have anything to eat here but did try about 10 beers. Very bright and colorful inside, makes me feel like I'm in an ice cream store. The pub also connects to a salon where you can have your hair styled or cut while enjoying a beer. If you know me you understand I have no need to have my hair styled. This is a kid friendly brew pub so no need to leave them at home. The beers I tried were very solid beers and the had a sour which was very good. They always seem to have a highly eclectic variety of beers and is a place I will stop at every time I'm in Traverse City.

jale, Aug 09, 2011
Photo of tommy5
4.25/5  rDev +6.3%

tommy5, Aug 07, 2014
Photo of LilBeerDoctor
3.99/5  rDev -0.2%

Reviewed on 6/27/2010.

This is a cool brewpub that is putting out a lot of interesting beers (there were 3 IPAs on tap plus the Ancho Chili Chocolate Porter and a beer made with asparagus and lemony spices). This place is all about the beer as there is no food served here. Just people chilling, talking, and drinking beer. They have a bunch of board games, a mini-shuffleboard, and darts. Since you just place your order at the bar there is not the traditional "service" per se. Somewhat hard to find, as it is located in the same building right behind a hair salon (the sign is somewhat small so just look for the right street address). This place is really geared towards beer geeks and you are sure to find something that piques your interest. Also the mugs are really cool. A must stop!

LilBeerDoctor, Dec 23, 2010
Photo of morimech
4.01/5  rDev +0.2%

I heard that people that have TomTom or some other navigation devices have a hard time finding this place. Using Google maps on my smart phone brought me right to the front door. The location and building is nowhere near what you expect for a brewpub. In a commercial area in pretty much an alley. Right Brain shares a building with several tennants, one being a hair dresser that you can look upon via the windows. So if your wife wants to get her hair done, go with her, you are all set to drink some beer. All orders are done at the bar. I ordered a sampler with 6(?) choices. All the beer was good but nothing really grabbed me. My favorite was Dead Kettle while Bone Crusher was my least favorite. Beer from straight forward to out in left field. They had a smoked porter made with smoked pig bones but I did not try it. Sounds interesting though. The bartender was sure to tell me it recently won a reward. They do not do food besides bar snacks. I thought it was a bit expensive. If I remember correctly, it was $15 for the sampler.

morimech, Oct 07, 2011
Photo of rjcoy06
4/5  rDev 0%

rjcoy06, Sep 15, 2014
Photo of Fargrow
4.25/5  rDev +6.3%

Fargrow, Apr 28, 2014
Photo of target88
3.5/5  rDev -12.5%

target88, Dec 05, 2013
Photo of BeerMeBro720
4/5  rDev 0%

BeerMeBro720, Jul 29, 2014
Photo of Slay40
4/5  rDev 0%

Slay40, Jun 17, 2014
Photo of Mitchster
3.45/5  rDev -13.8%

These guys have been open for about 2 weeks now. I don't know where the parking is, so I just parked out front. It's a typical open industrial look, with unfinished ceilings, exposed air ducts, etc. No food for right now, unless a bag of premade popcorn counts. They had about 12 beers on tap or so, with room for about 5 more. I tried the ESB, Raspberry pale, Hefe Weizen, IPA, Porter (on nitro), and Stout. They were all good, but none stood out as really, really good. The Hefe weizen and IPA were probably my favorites. I spoke with John, the brewer, for a while. He used to brew for Traverse Brewing Company in Elk Rapids. Very nice and knowledgable guy who seemed to enjoy talking shop. Plenty of seating (the license says 81) with local art on the walls. Big see through window to the beauty shop next door. Bathrooms out in the hall are shared with the other businesses in the building. They don't currently have a sampler tray, and it seemed the bartender was irritated by my requests to try the beers, despite the fact I was paying for them. When I was there, they had happy hour from 3-6p with $2 pints.

These guys have promise. The beers are decent for an early start, and I hope to see them grow.

Mitchster, Dec 16, 2007
Photo of Mxsluis
3.5/5  rDev -12.5%

Mxsluis, Mar 20, 2014
Photo of AylwinForbes
3.13/5  rDev -21.8%

Traverse City was a pitstop on our way to Shorts a few miles north. Thank God we didn't stay in Traverse since it was awash in vacationers. We had received several endorsements of the Brain and so made our approach with optimism and enthusiasm. That a bit dented by its slightly hidden quality and trying to find a parking spot. Also a little taken aback by the first impression being that of a hair-dresser. Fortunately we managed to discern that the bar was behind. I guess it is a unique claim to be made to be the only bar where one can gaze out onto people having their hair dyed.

First impression was favourable: liked the slightly hip, west-coast casual ambiance. Encouraged by sign saying no one under 21 (except that's only true after 9, so yes there were babies in there). Bar staff pretty friendly. Happy hour prices really reasonable. Here's the thing though: beer just not that good. My own brewery is better. Spiny Norman not so bad. Will Power not so good. Something on the cask, a stout with cinnamon, truly awful; it would take a lot of ice cream to banish the taste of that one.

Another disappointment was the complete absence of real food. Chips and hummus that are delivered in the packages that came from the store...

A lot of marketing goes into this operation with its funky shirts and stuff. Also it tries to create a reputation of edgy and off-the-wall creations - like beer made with asparagus. Take a tip from Barry at Saugatuck: do the simple things well.

AylwinForbes, Aug 06, 2010
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Right Brain Brewery in Traverse City, MI
90 out of 100 based on 94 ratings.