Mackinaw Brewing Company

Mackinaw Brewing CompanyMackinaw Brewing Company

Type: Brewery, Bar, Eatery

161 East Front Street
Traverse City, Michigan, 49684
United States

(231) 933-1100 | map

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Reviews: 20 | Ratings: 57
Photo of jimbofish
4.16/5  rDev +27.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.75 | selection: 3 | food: 4.75

TC's first brewpub. The brewing room used to be right up front in the street window, but was moved downstairs to add more seating. The oak and glass doors from the brew room are now used on the restrooms in back. Decor is Great Lakes freighter. Bar and hi-top tables up front, booths and regular tables in back with a new deck out back overlooking the Boardman River and West Bay. Several TVs in the noisier front section where the bar is usually filled with locals. The aroma from the smoker fills the room and drifts out to the sidewalk.

Menu beers are fine. I don't think they've changed in the 20 years he's been brewing here. They now have a couple of seasonals that are usually interesting. Pricing is reasonable with happy hour pricing during the off-season.. Growlers and mug club memberships available.

Service and food here are excellent. Smoked meats and fish are the specialties, particularly the ribs. One of the few places that serve Lake Perch dinners year-round. Couple of specials every day, usually some sort of seafood. Potato options include baked sweet potato with maple honey butter and the best fries in town.

During the summer it's crowded with tourists as it's right in the heart of downtown TC. We go for the food, mainly during the off-season, with the beer as a bonus, sit by a window, and watch the city go by.

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Photo of pat61
3.54/5  rDev +8.3%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3.75 | selection: 3.5 | food: 3.75

I stopped in heere a few times during the afternoon to hydrate with some beer after dragging grandchildren up and down the street. the beer is decent and the clientel mostly tourists. I can't say much about the night time vibe.

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Photo of SportsandJorts
3/5  rDev -8.3%
vibe: 3 | quality: 2.75 | service: 3.5 | selection: 2.5 | food: 3.75

Atmosphere: not much to it. chalk drawings along the edges, and not really a motif to the decorations. has just an average restaurant feel to it.

Quality: their beer was not so impressive. seems like another company riding the craft beer wave

Selection: about 6 beers on tap and nothing worth mention. seem to have a variety of hard liqours and wines to select from though

Service: it wasn't busy at all when i was there but we had no problems with the service

Food: good standard pub fair. good fries.

Overall: not a place that a beer advocate needs to go. if they want to earn it from me they need to actually put some focus on their beer

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Photo of dorianmarley
3.15/5  rDev -3.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3 | service: 4 | selection: 2 | food: 3.5

This is a restaurant first, brewery second. Their beer selection is limited, and rather generic: gold, red, IPA, and just a few others.

The food is good, and great for the price. They have their own smoker, so I tried their smoked meat sampler. The brisket was really, really good. The ribs and sausage were OK.

Mackinaw is a fun place to hang out. It is a long, narrow restaurant with a back, outdoor patio. Since it is located on the main strip in town, it gets a lot of visitors. It feels a lot like a tourist destination, but without too many campy gimmicks.

If you are in the area, it is worth stopping by, but do not seek it out to try the beer. And if you do go, and you are not a vegetarian, get some smoked meat.

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Photo of jale
2.88/5  rDev -11.9%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3 | service: 3 | selection: 2.5 | food: 3

This place is located in the heart of downtown Traverse City in the midst of a very nice shopping district. If someone wants to shop and you don't, just in step in there for a pint. This looks like an old store of some sort and is typical of many brew pubs. They had 5 beers on tap and average in taste. The beer is not something to drive out of your way for, but we walked by and decided to try them. They frequently have one beer on nitro and normally the first beer I try. This place seems to draw tourists in the area and a place you visit once, just to say you've been there.

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Photo of DannyDan
4.1/5  rDev +25.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5

I have been to MBC 4 different times in the last year and every time I go there I am greeted almost right away and the staff is very helpful. The place is a very relaxing and friendly place to go and enjoy a brew and some food.
At the table the server was always helpful in answering any questions I had about the food and drinks there. The food each time I was there was always cooked and prepared well. I would highly recommend the walleye which is pecan encrusted and fried and served with beurre blanc sauce and dried cherries. The Grouper served in a pistachio crust is also excellent whenever it is available.
Overall, this is currently one of my favorite places to go to. The only thing I wish they would do a better job at is making their beer taste better.

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Photo of LilBeerDoctor
3.09/5  rDev -5.5%
vibe: 1.5 | quality: 3 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.5

Reviewed on 6/27/2010.

This is a very tourist-friendly, family-friendly place (plenty of children) in the center of Traverse City. It is basically a restaurant that also makes their own (mediocre) beer. When I was there there were only 5 or 6 taps, all your most basic of styles (stout, pale, IPA, witbier, etc). I would skip this place unless you have nothing else to do, but there is better beer elsewhere (ie Right Brain) and better atmosphere as well (unless you have lots of young annoying children). What was also annoying was that when sitting at the bar you could only see the TVs by leaning back and craning your neck. Why??

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Photo of Vdubb86
3.6/5  rDev +10.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 3 | food: 4

I went to this place while visiting my girlfriend's hometown. I was able to actually talk her into going to a brewery for lunch. A victory for me if I do say so. The place looks like a nice city bar, there's a good amount of space most everything is wood, the menus are on chalkboards, you get the idea. Most everything there is of good quality. The servers were knowledgeable about both the food and the drink. Now the food shows that they were trained quite well, the drink, well that's another story. I was handed their tap list. Four Beers. That's all they had a red, a brown, a light, and a wheat. So it was kinda hard for me to pick a style that I know I would like. I know it was spring, but I love stouts...none to be had. Anyway I found the beers to be a bit off as far as the flavors were concerned. Maybe the water, I couldn't really say, but they weren't all that good. It's not a bad place for food though. It had some really good bbq and sandwiches. Both my girlfriend and I enjoyed the meal. Overall it was a decent restaurant that happened to brew its own beer.

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Photo of BehindtheFinBrew
2.39/5  rDev -26.9%
vibe: 2 | quality: 1.5 | service: 3 | selection: 3

The final - regrettable- stop on our Traverse City Brewery tour.

The exterior is classic, located in the heart of downtown Traverse City in the historic Beadle Building. Upon entering it was like walking into an Applebees or TGI Fridays. The decor consisted of old ship photos and some of the interior modeled to look like a ship.

A flight of all their beers was ordered (7 total) at around $10. The beers offered were their Belgian Whitecap, G.T. Golden, Red 8 Ale, West Bay IPA, an Oatmeal Stout, and 2 others that escape my memory (and photos). All were forgettable especially the Whitecap which had a noticeable stale character that made it quite rough to drink. The oatmeal stout was the pick of this list but that's not saying too much.

With exceptional quality beer being brewed around them you'd think they'd follow suit. It seems the Mackinaw Brewing Company has capitalized on their location by drawing in unsuspecting tourists, including myself, and throwing the same-old same old out there. I would not recommend their beer or visiting this place. Take your money to the higher quality breweries a few blocks away.

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Photo of kballer
3.73/5  rDev +14.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 3

This was an interesting place. They had a selection of about 6 house beers plus some special seasonals that were a little more expensive.

I tried the stout/porter they had. I could tell it was nitro and it was pretty average in a good way.

The place is also a restaurant but I didn't try the food.

Happy hour pints were only two bucks. Based on that alone I would recommend this place. Another good thing is that this place is in walking distance of two other brewpubs. I wish they would have had a beer flight

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Photo of Roeters
2.24/5  rDev -31.5%
vibe: 3 | quality: 1.5 | service: 3 | selection: 2

It is a normal bar, the whole bar area is high top tables. The TVs had the olympics on watching Phelps win the 8th gold, which made it kinda fun.

I had a few beers, none of which I will ever order again, I think that I should have realized the beer quality when over half of the people in the brewery where drinking Miller Light and the majority of the other half had mixed drinks. If I end up going again I will be drinking a Beam on the rocks.

They had a 6-7 taps none of which where anything to get excited about.

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Photo of buffettfan
3.33/5  rDev +1.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3 | service: 3 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4

I was excited to try this place. We went there for a late lunch after a long morning and afternoon of wedding planning. I had a sampler of thier beer and settled on thier pale ale (it was hot, and didn't feel like anything heavy). The beers were good, I would not call them great, but I certianly enjoyed them. I thought the food was very good. Typical pub grub, noting out of left field, but very good. Our waitress was very sweet, and pretty knowladgeble. I will certianly be back here when the wedding time comes!

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Photo of sweethome
2.48/5  rDev -24.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 1 | service: 3 | selection: 3

Went to Mackinaw Brewing Co. on a visit to Traverse last week. The location is great, the building is cool, the deck is great, the beers are terrible.

I had Belgian Whitecap - not at all like a belgian white, a strong aftertaste of infection. My wife tried a pale ale that was just slightly better, but still infected. We tried North Peak down the street which had true quality beers - this is not a good representation of craft beer. The only upside - the lousy beers only cost $2 bucks on happy hour.

It was about 10:30 when we arrived - our server was a college age guy - pretty funny guy - not the best service - but that was fine.

They had a decent crowd, although most were drinking macros. The fact they serve macros tells you something about the quality of their beers.

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Photo of CoSMoSYS
4/5  rDev +22.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4

Just got back from visiting Traverse City this past weekend and made sure to visit this place while we were up there. I was so impressed with this place that my girlfriend and I went back there twice.

It is located in the heart of downtown Traverse City. The atmosphere in the brewery was great. From the outside the place looks like a comforting place to sit and eat. There are huge windows on the building but you can't really see inside due to the posters that cover them regarding upcoming events. Once you get inside you can feel a sense of history from the building. You can tell the building was updated and fixed up recently but it still maintains its old feeling. The bar is on the left after you enter a second set of doors along with some items you can buy: shirts, sweaters, hats, etc etc. The eating area is split off into 2 sections. There was also a patio in the back. TVs were there with the Tigers games on.

The quality was great, there were plenty of food dishes I wanted to try but I decided to go with the Fish and Chips both times. You got a good amount of food for the price and the clam chowder was excellent.

The wait staff was very friendly and very knowledgeable of their beers and food. They made us feel comfortable and we enjoyed every minute in the establishment. People are so friendly up there.

They had quite a good selection of light to dark beers. I went with the Belgium Whitecap the whole time I was there and it was definitely one of the best wheat beers I have had.

Next time we visit TC, we will most definitely be dining/drinking there again! Can't wait to go back!

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Photo of QXSTER1
3.3/5  rDev +0.9%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3 | service: 4 | selection: 3 | food: 3.5

During our visit the pub was undergoing some renovations and this review is based on an incomplete remodeling job. The brewer hadn't brewed in awhile due to the moving of the brewing equipment. Even so the clientele seemed to be mostly locals during an early evening visit.

Had a Belgian Wit that was lifeless, absolutely no head and seemed old. The Oatmeal Stout wasn't much better, more astringent than bitter and also lifeless. The BBQ sampler had some great brisket and ribs, though the sausage wasn't my favorite.

Will definitely try this place out when in Traverse City again to see if things improve after the renovations are complete.

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Photo of nomad
3.5/5  rDev +7%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 3

A very small joint right in the midst of the downtown busiest intersection, Mackinaw comes off more as a bar that makes a little beer than the cornerstone brewpub west of them. Regardless, dark and exposed brick, the decor is mostly black and white vintage photos of cargo boats and ice cutters, some of them pretty funny shots of cap-sizing liners.

Beers were okay, the stout was nice and the bitter was fairly fresh though the wit was, well, not so hot. If the mini-tun and tank in the front window really is their system then their brewer is a saint - not a lot of room to produce enough beer for the tourist flush come May.

The normal serving size is absurd, $3.50 for 22 oz.? Okay, fine by me! Didn't try the food but it looked like typical fare. Has a great deck overlooking the bay but, alas, not open for the winter. I'd imagine this place is packed during the summer, plus the seating is cramped and not large.

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Photo of nortmand
3.78/5  rDev +15.6%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3 | service: 5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4

Stopped here all by my lonesome on a research trip.

Typically averabe, bare brick, crap on the wall brewpub atmosphere. The beer was OK, but everything kind of tasted the same, which is disappointing. The server was freakin' awesome, brought a tall glass of water with my sampler without my even asking, burger was actually cooked medium, as I asked and he was very friendly. This was definitely the highlight of the place. He left me alone, except to make sure I was happy and let me read my book in peace. As a frequent alone diner, due to travelling, polite privacy is key.

Anyway, they have alot of beers, but they all taste the same and are OK.

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Photo of Backer2004
3.88/5  rDev +18.7%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

First time in Traverse City did not disappoint me or my wife. We enjoyed a wedding last night there and while my wife spent her day on makeup and hair, I had the chance to walk the city and hit this brewpub. Great location made this a packed house at noon on a Friday in August. Sat at the bar and ordered the sampler (see my reveies if you're interested). Bartendar treated me right, especially after I borrowed his pen and began jotting notes on a coaster. The brown ale was being changed so he added the seasonal to the trail. He was real interested in talking about all the selections and helpful to others near me.

Ordered the Mushroom caps, which to my pleasant surprise, was grilled mushrooms stuffed with cheeses and crab cakes -- very good indeed. Atmnosphere was family oriented but nothing unique, the outside seating looked nice. Only one toilet in the men's room made for a bit of a wait. Would have liked to stop at the other brewpubs in the area, but this one left me satisfied.

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Photo of ChappyCubsFan
3.35/5  rDev +2.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 2 | service: 4.5 | selection: 3.5

This is the farthest north I traveled while touring Michigan's brewpubs and major league (Detroit) and minor league ballparks. I actually thought I was heading toward North Peak Brewery and was very surprised to see the Mackinaw sign on the building. I guess when I asked for directions, some guy pointed me to the nearest one. Both are on Front Street, but as I later found out (at Jamesport Brewing), there is a huge difference in quality between the two. The place is clean and upscale with the brewing system right there in glass as you walk in. Very classy place. I tried the sampler and as I often do, settled on the hoppiest beer I could find. That ended up being the pale ale. It was a mistake. It hardly had any hop taste, and was lacking anything interesting in the way of a malt. The bartender was hilarious and made the visit fun, but he couldn't change the fact that their beer wasn't up to par. He did give me good directions to a mom and pop store in Traverse City that had an incredible selection of jerky (beef, elk, deer, buffalo, you name it and it was there). I wish I had found North Peak Brewery just down the street. It was a shame to be that close to it and not know it.

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Photo of Mitchster
3.05/5  rDev -6.7%
vibe: 2.5 | quality: 3 | service: 3 | selection: 3 | food: 4

Atmosphere: Somewhat small, and usually packed. Backroom for non-smokers and the front for the others. If you're a smoker, no booths for you. Usually quite busy and loud, and not someplace you're going to be able to carry a conversation, especially during weekend nights. They open up the back patio during the summers.

Quality: I have been frequenting this brewpub since it's opening, and I'd have to say (even though I'm acquaintances with the brewmeister), that as of recently the beers have taken a hit in quality. Of note, the stout (which used to be excellent) is no longer on nitro-tap as of this review. See the brew reviews for more detail.

Service: Usually pretty good. The wait staff is not very knowledgable about the beer, however.

Selection: Usually 5 staple brews on tap with 2 seasonals.

Food: Excellent. Do try the cherry-smoked sausage in Red Ale sauerkraut with sweet potatoes. Prices are decent (from $8-15) for dinner and less for lunch.

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Mackinaw Brewing Company in Traverse City, MI
3.26 out of 5 based on 154 ratings.
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