Right Brain Brewery

Right Brain BreweryRight Brain Brewery

Type: Brewery, Bar, Eatery

225 E Sixteenth St Ste E
Traverse City, Michigan, 49684-4181
United States

(231) 944-1239 | map

No notes at this time.

Added by Mitchster on 12-15-2007

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Reviews: 51 | Ratings: 136
Photo of augievikings
2.05/5  rDev -48.5%
vibe: 1.5 | quality: 1.5 | service: 2 | selection: 3

In a nutshell, this place is weird. Tucked back inside a strip mall, you feel like you're walking through a hair salon to get to the bar. After attempting to have a beer here, it became very obvious that I am not hip enough for this scene. I always try cask conditioned beers when I have an opportunity, and here they had a jalapeno stout concoction on cask. While others may like a spicy warm stout, I found it to be awful. The bartenders were pretentious and not particularly friendly. We didn't even finish our beers because we were just not enjoying the vibe the place was giving off. Perhaps if you are a regular you are used to the atmosphere, but I found it off-putting. I much preferred the North Peak brews I tried during my stay in Traverse City.

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Photo of RocPorterFanatic
4.58/5  rDev +15.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5

This very eclectic brew pub is nestled in the warehouse district of Traverse City. The overall theme seems to be industrial meets geek. Patrons seem to come from every walk of life. There's a nice long bar with comfortable stools, as well as tables of all heights and sizes scattered around the place. The patio, was large, but packed. Not a seat to be found.

My fiance and I settled into our barstool and took a gander at the white board displaying the day's selections. There was a style for everybody. From the Owl Hawk made with Maris Otter to the Black Eye PA.

I had a flight of 6 beers, 6, 6oz. pours for $15. A bit pricey as far as flights normally go, but for my first time there, a great way to sample the majority of beers that piqued my interest.

My fiance had the Fuzz Face Peach Wheat, reasonably priced with a 20oz. pour for $3.50.

Merchandise was on par with other brewpubs, a T-shirt running $23.

Overall, a great experience with delicious, well crafted beers.

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Photo of MarcatGSB
3.59/5  rDev -9.8%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 3.25 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4

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.

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Photo of zoso1967
2.36/5  rDev -40.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 1.5 | service: 3 | selection: 2

Oh Right Brain, I just don't understand why so many people like you.

Since moving back to TC I have been coming by RB frequently enough to allow me to review this place. We most often come on Tuesday nights when they have their very enjoyable trivia night. Unfortunately, trivia is the only reason I ever want to come here.

The decor and vibe of the place are both fine. It's modern, eclectic and chill with a nice Midwest laid back sort of feel. I find that the place tries a bit too hard to be different, but I really can't complain much about the atmosphere when compared to many other local places.

I have never been overly impressed with the service here. Some of the people don't know much about the beers and they often get a little snotty with me when I ask too many questions.

The beer is the real downfall though. I have had many different brews of varying styles during different times of the year and I have even had brews from both brewers. Unfortunately the very best of what they have to offer is just mediocre and when it's bad, it's pretty ugly

I went just last night and out of the 5 different beers I tasted only one was decent enough that I might order it again. The other four were terrible and we were using words to describe them like: plastic, rotting vegetation, moldy doughnuts, rubber, ash and marinade. If my homebrew ever comes out tasting like some of what they have on tap, I would pour it down the drain and try to do better next time. Once the bartender actually apologized to me in advance when she handed me a beer. She should not have to do that!

Selection is also not their strongest point as often they are loaded up on one particular style, or they have almost nothing on. You can rest assured that they will have something "Right brained" on tap though, which has an equal chance of being interesting or a complete disaster. They make a lot of one-off beers which is nice, but this adds to the roulette type scenario of betting on how many of the beers I try will actually be palatable. Sometimes I win big and feel like I did not waste my money, but just like in Vegas the house usually wins.

To add insult to injury the beers are all around $5 and many are premium (chuckle) pours so you only get 12 oz. I could go to U & I and get a Huma for less, and U & I also has delicious food. Even Bubba's is comparable in beer prices.

I am sure this will not change the mind of the Right Brainwashed regulars, but I would highly recommend that if you are visiting the TC area that you take the money you may have spent here and use it on good beer at Short's.

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Photo of MilwaukeeCrusher
4.06/5  rDev +2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 5 | selection: 3

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.

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Photo of goast8127
2.63/5  rDev -33.9%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 2.5 | service: 2 | selection: 3

Reviewed on 10/22

We had a little bit of difficulty finding this place. I mostly blame the GPS. The bar seemed a little oddly placed in it's office complex. Inside was eccentric and unique. There was some woodwork, exposed ducts, and many different games. Sly and the Family Stone was featured quite heavily on the sound system. Felt very much like a bar in someone's basement. Being it was Friday, the place was quite busy. We sat at a table and had to order and retrieve our drinks from the bar, as everyone did. Was disappointed that the white boards were not correctly up-to-date with what was available, and was not impressed with the beers I selected. I know enough about the place to give it another chance.

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Photo of LilBeerDoctor
3.99/5  rDev +0.3%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4

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!

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Photo of Stigs
3.73/5  rDev -6.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.5

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.

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Photo of claminat420
3.1/5  rDev -22.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 2.5 | service: 3 | selection: 3.5

well it's very clear that the brewery shares a building with other businesses. very cool establishment i.m.o. they have a chalkboard with the brews on hand and giving info on each one. they have a wall for their mug club and it's a site to see. it's a very laid back enviroment. when i went there were kids running around playing with their toys and no one cared. the place is very i don't know.. free spirited. they have alot of personal art and what-not hanging on the ceiling. the service is really good and the staff are cool. i got a growler to take home and i wanted the simcoe dream which is cask conditioned (cuz i thought their other ipa that wasn't casked sucked). well one of the employee's told me they don't really do that cuz of the cask getting flat but i offered to pay more and he said he would. he ended up giving me the growler for no extra money and i also got 2 pint glasses and a set of coasters for all 25 bucks out the door. which totally beats great lakes brewing which not even a month ago wanted to charge me 33 bucks just for a growler of blackout stout (RIP OFF!!)
the only thing i can say that is negative about the place is how they try to have 12+ beers on tap and when i went there 8/23/10 there were only i think 8. now the only thing i can say negative about the brewery is i would like to see more higher alcohol beers. they had nothing over 6.3abv which was an amber. like make an ipa that or 7abv.
i didn't get any food but all they have anyway are just some munchies like pretzels, popcorn, etc. overall this place is great. seems like the majority of the people who go there are down to earth but there are #ssholes everywhere. for $3 pints during happy hour 3-6 you can't beat it.

UPDATED!!!!went back on aug 17th 2011 and was pretty disappointed. their prices seem like they could be lowered and the quality of beer seemed to have dropped. 5.35 a pint of your own homemade beer at the same establshment seems kinda dickish to me. when shorts and other companies sell their beer cheaper and make way much more better stuff too.

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Photo of AylwinForbes
3.13/5  rDev -21.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3 | service: 3 | selection: 3

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.

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Photo of BehindtheFinBrew
4.36/5  rDev +9.5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

The 3rd stop on our Traverse City brewery crawl. Located in the Warehouse District the exterior is non-descript and located on an alley-like street.

The interior is eclectic and fun with local art lining the walls. An impressive custom-mug club wall sits to the left of the bar. This place is a no-frills just beer establishment. I don't believe they offer food. Its a "Whadda Ya Want" type attitude but not unwelcoming. 12 beers were offered and a 6 beer flight comes in at $15. My flight consisted of their Empire Spear - an ASPARAGUS beer that was unique and refreshing when cold, a little off-putting as it warmed HA!, Will Power Pale Ale, Copper Grasshopper ESB, Out of Tyne Brown Ale, Ancho Chili Double Dutch Chocloate Porter and their Chocolate Espresso Oatmeal (C.E.O) stout. My favorite of the flight was the CEO stout but all were exceptional and tasty.

The world needs more places like the Right Brain Brewery where quality and creativity are top priority with passionate and devoted staff. I would frequent this place if I lived within 100 miles.

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Photo of beerguru15
4.94/5  rDev +24.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5

My better half and I took a trip to Traverse City this past weekend to get away and to stop at the local breweries. We ended up stopping at the Right Brain in the evening, and I have to agree with just about everyone that it was a very odd and hard to get to location. Upon walking into the building you have to pass a hair salon. You notice the walls covered with art and designs when stepping into Right Brain, plus get a "artsy" feel with practically everything involved.

The waitress we had was quite pleasent, courteous and energentic. The beers are listed on a large chalk board on the wall, giving a name, a slight description and style of the beers available.

I ended up trying a sampler, which contained 6 samples at 6 oz each for $15. The beers I had included: Naughty Girl Scout which was a stout containing a "thin mint" taste, a Beer called Wicked Garden Roasted Beet Wheat, which was basically what the name said as that's what it looked, smelled and tasted like. A LIttle Italy Honey Basil which had a Strong Basil taste and smell. A Burgundy Ale which was your typical Amber Ale. A Sun Cup American Wheat which wasn't bad and tasted like a usual American Style Wheat, and finally a beer called "Stoch Buddler Michigan Common Copper" which was quite interesting, though different at the same time.

One of the flaws of this place was that there was no food, which was surprising as you usually don't see this too often. But being that it was a small establishment it was understanding in a ways, and nice at the same time as you can bring a sandwich with no hassle.

Overall I found this place to contain a great environment, a great selection and a place I'd definitely return to and recommend.

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Photo of kbeals
4.3/5  rDev +8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

Place is sort of a hidden gem located in Traverse City. Definitely has a coffee house vibe like others have said. A lot of artsy people were there, or at least they were dressed like they were. Place was pretty noisy while we were there due to the limited amount of space. That's really the only thing it lacks is more space, and a finished ceiling. Their beer selection was excellent. Had plenty of beers ranging over a wide variety of styles. Some of the beers were very unique as well. Service was pretty good, a little slow but it definitely wasn't the bartenders fault, a lot of people are so indecisive about what kind of beer they wanted to order. Average age for the place was probably mid-30's or so. My biggest grievance, no food! Popcorn and pretzels were available but I would love to see them offer food eventually. They might have to move though as I doubt there is enough space for a kitchen. I would definitely come here again just because of their unique beer selection.

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Photo of jeepboy76
4/5  rDev +0.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4

Traveled three weeks to Traverse City with friends. I had heard about Right Brain from a few people, with mixed results. I just had to give it a try (especially after a friend gave me his growler to be filled at a reduced cost!).

The location was kind of a pain. We didn't realize that it was behind a hair salon (I'm sure townies love it). Once inside though, it had a terrific vibe. Along with a good selection of beer (try the Big Boned Belgian, you won't be disappointed), it also had a great 'personal' feel to it. Very much like a coffee shop. If you being able to hear your friends, this is a great place. I hope to go back someday soon!

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Photo of hosehead83
4.8/5  rDev +20.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5

Located in the warehouse district in Traverse City, Michigan. A bit tricky to get to but well worth a little effort! Located behind a hair salon that is actually part of the bar. You can get a haircut and sample a brew at the same time.(What a great idea!) If you don't need a haircut, just walk past the salon into the brewpub. There is an "L" shaped bar and various tables with one having actual barber chairs to sit at.
The place has a kind of Bohemian, coffe-house eclectic feel to it. There are no t.v.'s, but there are numerous old-school board games to play, if you are so inclined, and some unobtrusive rock/pop music plays over the whole scene. The pub is smoke-free, and although there is no food served, there are snacks such as popcorn and pretzels. But you don't come here for the food. At any one time there are 12 different taps, all with an eclectic sampling of various house brews, ranging from an English hand-pulled stout, to a 14%ABV barleywine and everything in between. On the day I was here, everything was just $3 a pint all day!!
The "beertenders" were very knowledgeable and helpful, and provided samples (just ask!)
Everything on tap is written on a huge blackboard and may change daily, depending on how fast a particular offering sells out. There seemed to be only one waitress, so you pretty much had to stand in line to get a beer, but it moved fairly quickly and gives you time to read the blackboard and figure out what you want to try. The beers run the gamut from average to exceptional. All local ingredients are used, with no extracts. On most days the owner is behind the bar and will answer any questions you have when he gets the chance, as this place can get pretty busy.
Overall, if you are in the Traverse City area the Right Brain Brewery is a must for all craft beer lovers. It offers a unique atmosphere and equally unique brews that must be tasted to be appreciated. Growlers are also available to take your favorite (or favorites) beer home.

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Photo of GordonQuid
4.88/5  rDev +22.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5

The Right Brain Brewery is located in Traverse City Michigan's warehouse district. Located in a renavated buildingalong with some other neiboring businesses. One of which is a hair salon in which you can have a Right Brain Brew while getting your hair cut. Cool.
The atmosphere is very west coast casual. The place has a bit of nostalgia from the building and a bit of family fun with board games to play whist sipping on a quality brew. It is a mixed bag as far as patrons; some older folks, some younger too but all have a good appreciation for quality beer.
The service is outstanding. Considering you have to get in line to order your beer the staff moves the line along quickly. They are all knowledgeable of what they serve and are very friendly and accomodating.
The beer selection is fantastic! Rye cream Ale, Stouts, Porters, IPA's, APA's, and Barley Wine.
I sample three while I was there and all were very good within their class; CEO Stout, Hopping Frog Creamy Rye and the Posh Porter. I hope to be back soon to sample their other offerings.
If you want good craft beer on a budget this is your place. I was very impressed that on a Saturday they had all day happy hour. Pints were $3 and growlers were $12. They have a wide selection of RBB wear and collectables as well. Again all reasonably priced.
If ever in the TC areas RBB is a must visit!
Cheers to RBB!

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Photo of SaucyA
4/5  rDev +0.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4

My girlfriend and I spent a long weekend in Traverse City recently, and had the chance to drop into Right Brain for a beer. It's a little tough to find initially, but definitely not hard to get to.

We went in on a Friday afternoon/early evening and the place was PACKED. I'm telling you, wall to wall with people. It wasn't even tourist season, and everyone we ran into were locals. It's definitely a neighborhood hangout. We squeezed in at the end of the bar and chatted it up with some very nice ladies. Sampled a couple brews and stuck with a nice winter warmer. Everything I tried was better than average, with some being great. My girlfriend, who isn't necessarily a ba, is a good sport about visiting breweries and genuinely enjoyed her time here as well.

Service at the bar was great, the bartenders were very nice and on the ball.

Beer selection was good, with pretty much every base covered, including a couple IPA's and a barrel-aged offering. They were grilling asparagus out front for an asparagus brew. Quite ballsy if ya ask me.

Didn't try the food, but apparently it's not their strong suit. Plenty of good spots around the area to get some great eats tho.

All in all a worthy beer destination, especially when coupled with the other beer-centric establishments in and around the city.

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Photo of akorsak
4.28/5  rDev +7.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 5

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.

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Photo of gordavidson
4.14/5  rDev +4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

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.

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Photo of DRjester
4.4/5  rDev +10.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 3

I just moved from Traverse City to downstate Michigan, and this is the place I will miss most of all. It's located in a sort-of artsy sub-district right in the hub of the downtown shopping area. It can be a bit hard to find if you're not familiar with the area, but ask around and locals can point you to the place.

The place has a sort-of hip coffee shop vibe, with couches, funky tables, lots of art on the walls, and an unfinished, converted-warehouse feel to the ceiling. There are board games and magazines available, and the place is non-smoking.

They run 12 rotating taps at all times, along with 1 on a cask. They don't have any "all-the-time" brews, so it's always a bit of a surprise as to what you'll find. That said, you'll pretty much always find at least some sort of IPA, stout, amber, and a few other common styles. They also do a good job of having 2-3 less common styles on tap, and they often go out of their way to use local ingredients if they can. Their beers are generally good and occaisionally excellent, although they also have the occaisional whiff, so to speak. Some of my favorites of theirs have been an oak-aged imperial stout, a belgian-style trippel, and a smoked porter.

The service is generally good; the bartenders are prompt, knowledgeable, and friendly. One thing I particularly like is that the head brewmaster is often in the house (they brew on-site), and he's quite friendly and will readily discuss beers (his or others) and brewing if he has the time.

The one downfall, in my opinion, is the food situation - they offer a few bar-snacks, like popcorn and pita chips with hummus, but otherwise nothing (although they don't mind if you want to have something delivered or bring your own).

Overall, this is a great place and one I would recommend without hesitation to anyone visiting the area.

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Photo of Deuane
4.44/5  rDev +11.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5

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!

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Photo of gabrielsyme
4.22/5  rDev +6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4

As others have said, the place is a bit hard to find. It is one room in a larger building that houses a coffee shop et al., and there aren't too many signs to help, which is a shame because this place is pretty good.

The atmosphere was great - low lighting, a nice bar, plenty of room. Think hipster bar more than 'Cheers', which I am fine with.

We ordered samples of 8 of the beers (they had 12 total on tap, plus their DIPA on cask as well). The beers ranged from OK to GREAT - the Bourbon Stout was top notch, cherries and vanilla, and they had another stout that tasted like mint chocolate cookies, and a honey basil beer that was definitely unique.

Service was very friendly, and they seemed knowledgeable although we didn't get into a too beer-heavy discussion. I actually appreciate that they don't serve food as it keeps everything about the beer.

They have a membership program where you get swag + a discount - something I wouldn't pass up if I lived in the area.

Don't pass this place up if you're in Traverse City.

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Photo of yock
3.91/5  rDev -1.8%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

Boy this place was hard to find, but I'm glad we did. It's down a street that is almost like an alley, and then the sign is so small we had to ask some people where it was. But I'm glad we did. The bartender knew his beers and was quick to offer samples. And the selection was plentiful. We were there in the middle of a weekday afternoon so it was very mellow in there. I think the variety is very, very good, but most of the beers tasted a little weak to me. But I'm used to drinking 3floyds, so maybe it's me, and it's a personal issue, not their fault. Take the time to stop at this place. It's worth it. Make sure you can go when it's not crowded, the experience will be more enjoyable.

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Photo of Roeters
4.44/5  rDev +11.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5

Over the past year I have made the trip to Right Brain a few more times and I am a full believer in this place. The biggest thing with Right Brian is that they are always rotating they beer selection and they are pushing the envelope. I feel that the first impression was the day to day of this place.

Go in the spring early summer and that they do the asparagus ale again

You may want to check their website to see what's being served before you make the trip.

Old post --- A:4,Q:3.5,S:4,S:3.5

The atm osphere really fits in with the rest of downtown T.C. A little artsy and very interesting. i love that there are no TVs in this place. I hope to see more places moving in that direction as tv is the death of independent though.

But away, in my opinion they have the best brews in T.C. and they have a creative list of brews to chose from. Unlike the other breweries that I visited that had a watery summer wheat or a marginal cask IPA as their wildest brews. But, RB has a ways to go to compete with breweries out side of T.C.

The service was good other then the credit card machine not working and the brewery closing 1 1/2 early. Which is completely out of their control.

They had a list including 10 beers and 1 cask. The list was wheat heavy. Which I was expecting being a summer resort town. I enjoyed all the brews that I tried. I will be stopping in again and is a must if you'll be around the T.C. area, but not worth a special trip.

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Photo of littlehowtown
1.98/5  rDev -50.3%
vibe: 2 | quality: 1.5 | service: 2.5 | selection: 2

I had a lot of hope for this place, as many I know have told me about it, and it's gotten some kind reviews on BA. I just didn't see what people enjoyed at this place.

Located in an alley, it was off the beaten track; but hey, I live in Three Floyds country, I know about obscure brewpub locations. The outside was a bit confusing, as the permanent sign, highest placed, was for a hair salon. And with the salon in the front window, we thought the whole place was closed at 9 on a Friday. A trip down a hall proved otherwise. There was the room we seeked.

I took a look around and had a seat at the bar. The place reminded me of a coffee shop, with linoleum floors, laminate here and there, country oak trim for the bar. No passive entertainment or games, save a collection of board games where we came in. The room was large, quite a few 20-somethings were sitting around in what looked to be clicks in a lunchroom. Come to think of it, the place could have been confused with a cafeteria. Not to be mean, but it felt a bit juvenile. And misleading, as there was nothing in the way of food beyond hummus, chocolate truffles, and some bags of popcorn.

We were greeted quickly by a guy playing with his iPhone behind the bar, which oddly enough was being used as the source for the bar music. He asked if we wanted to see menus. He handed us each a piece of white paper folded in half. Inside were the beers and some descriptions. 2 IPA's to lead off, and some other interesting ones. My wife took one IPA, and I took the other. Mine tasted eerily similar to a malt taste I had for my first ever homebrew attempt. That taste that comes from extracting the sugars at the wrong temperature, like it's too starchy. The hops really took a back seat to what the malt was doing. Aromas were weak, the apperance muddy, the flavors that were there were not interesting. We saw a sign of "beers in the pipeline" with 5 different IPAs listed, among other varieties. I wonder if they are searching for a recipe that comes out tasting like an IPA or if they think that their hoppy beers are good enough to be recognized for them. We noticed the cask ale was hanging out with a wrap on it under a counter, with a needlessly long, uncovered line running to the beer engine. I just couldn't bring myself to even ask for a taste to check it, especially with the $1/ounce charge on tastes.

As we looked back over the menus to see if we should venture on, we noticed that over half the beers used the term "malty" singularly to describe the profile, including the IPAs. Like whoever wrote it had no idea what to write about the beers. It made me wonder who was running the place. Then I saw a high school graduation photo of the owner over the other side of the bar, replete with flawless mullet and 'stache. Normally I'd find some humor in something that odd, but given all the other odd problems I saw, it just made sort of a sad amount of sense.

I asked a bartender what other beers they had available from guest breweries. Although they had probably 8 open draft lines, Right Brain didn't have anything else on. So pretty much nothing left for me to do but call in the tab. I guess I wouldn't want my beers placed next to anyone else's either.

Now, I understand the brewery is young, and that certain changes are made as a business grows and learns from experience, but to start of on such a missing foot makes me wonder if they can cut it. The beers will have to step it up a huge notch and receive cult-like status here on BA before I'd ever venture back. Again, it probably sounds mean, but I just don't understand how beers of this caliber become the backbone of a business.

Not recommended. Try North Peak just down the street. It's nicer to look at, has a less clicky crowd, the beers are acceptable or better, and have a cask ale I wasn't worried about (IPA when I was there, ironically). They also have food pretty late. The wood-fire baked cheese dip was a fantastic snack.

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Right Brain Brewery in Traverse City, MI
3.76 out of 5 based on 1,927 ratings.
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