Last weekend Andrew and I went on an adventure to Traverse City. The main reason for this trip was so that we could participate in Paddle for Pints, essentially a wonderful combination of kayaking and craft beer.
It was a rainy day but we still had a wonderful time kayaking and sampling a variety of tasty beers. The event took us to four separate breweries/brewpubs where we each sampled a range of tasty beer.
The Filing Station Microbrewery
Registration and the first brew stop of the day. After registering for the day and receiving our t-shirts and swag bags we had some food and a couple of drinks before starting the kayak adventure. The pizza we ordered was a delicious thin crust treat. On the beer front Andrew tried the Salem Raspberry Pale Ale and I had the Ironwood Amber Ale. Both were a good start to our day – not overwhelming and subtle enough to be enjoyable when paired with food.
Right Brain Brewery
The first brewery we paddled to was Right Brain. I loved the atmosphere of this brewery, it was a community space, art gallery, and beer hall all mixed together. It was also surprisingly kid friendly with a toy area, board games, and lots of cool stuff to look at. We saw a number of families hanging out in the space during our visit.
I tried the Irish Goodbye red ale to start and Andrew has a pint of the Flying Squirrel Brown Ale. I really enjoyed the Irish Goodbye, it was a dark amber colour with a bit of sweetness mixed in with subtle hops. We also split a tall can of the Northern Hawk Owl. Andrew picked this one out but it was one we both enjoyed and one I wanted to try just because it had a cool sounding name. The Northern Hawk Owl was a bit more generic than the Irish Goodbye, it had some malt and very subdued hop notes but was pretty smooth drinking.
Rare Bird Brewpub
Rare Bird was the smallest location we visited – or at least it felt pretty small with all the paddlers plus the regular lunch crowd packed into the pub. There was some really interesting woodwork in this brewpub – the tables were made out of single slabs all cut from really large trees and one of the walls included reclaimed wood from industrial packing crates.
Andrew tried the ‘Dam Paddlers’ beer which was crafted especially for the Paddle for Pints events and I sampled the Hopricot. As you might guess my beer was hoppy and made with apricot. It was a surprisingly good and layer combination. The Dam Paddlers beer was also a bit of a surprise, it had a lot of lime and despite being labeled a cream ale it was surprisingly light.
The Workshop Brewing Company
Another really interesting physical space – the Workshop had an industrial feel but had a surprisingly warm touch to it. It was also fairly family friendly with games, books, and lots of space. We saw a number of families with small children enjoying some food and just hanging out in the space.
Andrew tried the Plumb Bob and the Pipe Wrench. I ordered the Plumb Bob for him – and had I read the description more closely I probably wouldn’t have picked it, it was very coffee flavoured. I had the 20-pound Sledge IPA and the Bastard Rasp. As one would expect the IPA was on the hoppy side and was a fairly standard IPA. The Bastard Rasp was surprisingly good – it was a wheat ale with a raspberry kick. I had fears that it would be overly sweet but it was well balanced and easy drinking.
Overall this was a great day filled with kayaking, delicious local beer, and visiting new places. The event itself is a bit expensive but it was a really unique experience that I’m really glad we took the time to do.