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Right Brain Brewery

Your Rating: None
Right Brain BreweryRight Brain Brewery
BA SCORE
3.72/5
Good
2,113 Ratings
Right Brain BreweryRight Brain Brewery
PLACE INFO

Type: Brewery, Bar, Eatery, Beer-to-go

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

(231) 944-1239 | map
rightbrainbrewery.com

Notes:
No notes at this time.

Added by Mitchster on 12-15-2007

BEER STATS
Beers:
113
Reviews:
388
Ratings:
2,113
PLACE STATS
BA Score:
4.04/5
Reviews:
51
Ratings:
138
pDev:
14.6%
 
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Ratings: 138 |  Reviews: 51
Photo of Mothergoose03
3.83/5  rDev -5.2%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.75 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 3.5

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.

 1,538 characters

Photo of tommy5
4.25/5  rDev +5.2%

Photo of MilwaukeeCrusher
4.06/5  rDev +0.5%
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.

 941 characters

Photo of akorsak
4.28/5  rDev +5.9%
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.

 1,060 characters

Photo of TX-Badger
3.9/5  rDev -3.5%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 3.75

Photo of BeerOps
4.3/5  rDev +6.4%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 3.75 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3.75

Photo of mklisz
3.98/5  rDev -1.5%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.25 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4

Photo of Deuane
4.44/5  rDev +9.9%
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!

 1,803 characters

Photo of fredmugs
4.25/5  rDev +5.2%

Photo of midlifec
4/5  rDev -1%

Photo of TheRealPour
4/5  rDev -1%

Photo of Danielr26
3.73/5  rDev -7.7%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.25 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4

Photo of leprechaunandfatman
4.76/5  rDev +17.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.75 | food: 5

Photo of MarcatGSB
3.59/5  rDev -11.1%
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.

 2,237 characters

Photo of Lynn
4/5  rDev -1%

Photo of joe1510
4.16/5  rDev +3%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.25

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.

 1,132 characters

Photo of Agentveba
5/5  rDev +23.8%

Photo of arizcards
3.91/5  rDev -3.2%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 4 | service: 3.75 | selection: 4 | food: 4

Visited here today with Da Boss while touring Northern Lake Michigan.

Vibe was interesting, definitely eclectic with mannequin heads on stereo speakers, Homer Simpson suspended from the ceiling...you get the picture.

Quality of the beer was good. The two brews i had were pretty solid and Da Boss enjoyed her Irish ale.

Service was mostly self serve but will give credit for the friendliness of the gentleman that prepared our burgers and drew our brews.

Selection was solid as i believe there was 20 taps.

Food was good. Da Boss and i actually enjoyed our waffle bun burgers. Portions were smaller but that is OK as bigger is not always better.

Overall this was a nice place to visit and if i lived in MI i would definitely visit again.

 746 characters

Photo of Cotton_27
4/5  rDev -1%

Photo of Dactrius
4.03/5  rDev -0.2%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4

Photo of morimech
4.01/5  rDev -0.7%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

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.

2015 Update: Since my last visit, they have moved to a new location. Strangely the beauty saloon accompanied them so it must be a SO's business. Much larger and open space. They could fit a lot of people into this space. I heard that the beer quality has dropped off in recent years, but I did not notice any poor quality beers. And in fact, had the best beer during my recent visit to TC.

 1,430 characters

Photo of JasonR1975
4.2/5  rDev +4%

Photo of Doublicious
4.64/5  rDev +14.9%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.75

Photo of Zaphog
3.75/5  rDev -7.2%

Photo of gordavidson
4.14/5  rDev +2.5%
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.

 755 characters

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Right Brain Brewery in Traverse City, MI
Brewery rating: 3.72 out of 5 with 2,113 ratings
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