Snapshot: Right Brain Brewery, Part 2

In Brewpub Review by Karl

If you missed it, you can find the first part of our look at Right Brain posted here.


Yesterday we ran through a couple choices from Traverse City’s Right Brain Brewery, and if you want more evidence of the wide range of beers they crank out you should check the brewery’s BeerAdvocate page for selections they’ve created.  As I mentioned, if any of those look good, don’t get your heart too set on them – they occasionally revisit some recipes but otherwise it’s like one of their taglines say, “Beer today, Gone tomorrow.” Too true.

For example, the Double Ancho Chile Dutch Double Chocolate Porter makes my imagination go crazy and my palate do triple backflips in anticipation of ever getting a hold of such a creation – but we all have to learn to live with disappointment.  A “Creamy Rye?”  A “Peat Wheat?”  A chocolate orange cream stout?  How could you not want any and all of these?  And yet, since RBB brews according to their whims, you just have to be happy they’ve got what they’ve got – and sometimes they ain’t even got that, depending on how busy they’ve been.

Beer #3 – Naughty Girl Stout

Yes, that’s a Thin Mint cookie it’s served with. A nice touch.

The Naughty Girl Stout was brewed with Bulgarian peppermint leaves, and based on the name you can probably imagine what they’re going for here.  The answer is yes, it tastes like a chocolate/mint cookie much like the Thin Mint they serve with it.

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(Side note: drinks that come with baked goods always appeal.  See also: Glogg served with a gingersnap at Simon’s during the winter.)

However, the taste wasn’t as rich as I was hoping for or expecting.  Having drank my way through much of their selection and each one having a huge taste profile, I was surprised when this stout seemed…restrained.  Maybe they’ll give this one a second go-around and crank up the chocolate and mint, because while it was a good, thick, creamy example of a good-tasting stout, it didn’t exactly live up to my expectations.  That said, were it on hand instead of every other Guinness I’ve ever had, I’d order it without a moment’s hesitation.

Beer #4 – Stuck Rudder Michigan Common

It’s certainly copper-y.

Honestly, I don’t know if I’ve ever had a “common” beer from RBB but I know I’ve stumbled across copper beers before.  Aside from the Pale Ale this was the most mainstream offering I’ve had from Right Brain in my memory.  It was straightforward and uncompromisingly sharp and had a considerable cinnamon taste to it.

Described as having a “refreshing hop profile,” the hop presence was actually fairly restrained to a point where it didn’t stand out at all.  No piney-ness, no overt citrus characteristics, this would sell barrel after barrel if it were mass produced, but I don’t think it’s representative of the best that RBB has to offer.

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If it seems like I’m hauling ass through these descriptions just to gloat over the awesomeness that was the Lizard King, the cask-conditioned Black IPA that was double-dry hopped….you’d be exactly freaking right.

Beer #5: “Lizard King” Double Dry-Hopped Black IPA on Cask

The beer machine in the background seems almost glowing with pride. “I made that!”

The smell alone from this hugely flavored IPA (I couldn’t believe it wasn’t a double/imperial) had me intimidated for at least 5 minutes.  It literally just sat in front of me and settled while I let the aroma waft over to me and let me consider exactly what the hell I was getting into.

Too cool even for the regular whiteboard.

The taste?  Rich, full, well rounded, hops hops hops and hops – but not too intimidating for non-hopheads.  How does that make sense, you ask?  The cask temperature helps hold off the intensity of the hops but doesn’t lower their presence, if that makes sense.  If you’ve ever taken a big whiff of a dose of pure hops before they go into the boil of homebrew, that’s the taste you get on the palate.  It’s all hops, but not too intensely.  Just thick, black and malty hops with a nice creamy texture and just barely cooled off the cask.

Not sure what the bell is for.

Easily the best beer I had over the 2 day visit.

Other beers we had that were unphotographed but still pretty good – everything else on the whiteboard.  We went through the burgundy ale, the Pale Ale, the Sun Cup American wheat, another IPA, the Katy Bar The Door gluten-free beer (with roasted chestnuts), and back to the asparagus beer.  The only reason I wouldn’t suggest you haul ass up there now and try them all is because they’re probably gone by now, if not almost.  But it’s worth a summer road trip to the area because first of all, it’s a beautiful area.  Second, you can safely bet that whatever they have up there will be worth the travel.  And the scarcity of them heightens the senses in a way that an overhyped Dark Lord event could only hope to match.

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Long story short:  If you’re in the area, go.  Just go.  Get a room to stumble back to – everything is pretty close together.  Just don’t tell me too much about it, because I’ll get desperately jealous of the beers I didn’t get to try, much like what I imagine these couple days worth of posts has done to you.  Cruel?  Yes?  Worth it?  I hope so.

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About the Author



Karl has written about food, travel and beer for Chicago Magazine, Thrillist, Time Out Chicago, AskMen and more. His book, Beer Lovers Chicago, is now available via Amazon and other booksellers. If you're buying, he's likely having a porter or a pale ale.

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