Traverse City Beer Week: Day 1

Friday the 13th, I had a mason jar full of a craft beer in my sights and there was no looking back.

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I wonder if I can use this passport to get into Canada…mmmmm, gravy fries… (Shorts Autumn Ale)

“Traverse City Beer Week,” he said.  “We have a hotel and we’re staying until Monday.  Tonight is a pub crawl.”

His words have a singsongy effect on my brain, even though there’s nothing singsongy about what he said.  If my life can be nothing like a Disney movie then I want no part of it!  Everything shall be singsongy, dammit.

“So…you’re going there to get drunk?” my mom queries.

What’s with the attitude?  Really, mom?

“Yes, I reply, tipping my imaginary top hat toward her.  We’re traveling across the state to get shit-housed.  Aren’t you proud of your baby girl?”

After checking in at the Howard Johnson, a cartwheel away from downtown Traverse City (a city neither he nor I had ever been, I admit with some shame), we hitch a cab to Brew – the first stepping stone in our stumbly, drunkish, pleasantly warm and buzzing skip across what I’m deeming the adventure Pub Crawl Lake.

BREW

The cab drops us off at the back entrance of Brew and I, with unashamed tourist ridiculousness, snap a photo of the sign.  “The first of many,” I warn him as he shakes his head at me as if to silently call me a douche nozzle.

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Brew: where the hipsters gather and your feelings DO matter.

As we walk in, we’re assaulted by the smell of coffee, beer, hipster and bread…which sounds like it may be a bad thing.  It’s like being assaulted by puppies initiating a pillow fight.  It’s odd and raises some safety concerns but altogether welcomed.

The establishment is buzzing with the doings of students, their Macbooks, men driving stakes in the heart of what’s amazing about beards with no remorse, middle-agers, youngsters…I think I saw a pregnant lady…just an impressive array of humans.

We stand in line to order food (to premeditatively soak up the booze…#adulting) and beer.  We grab two “Passports” for the crawl, I order a Shorts Autumn Ale and a Tree Hugger Wrap.

Yes.  I like vegetables.  Do you really want to fight about this?  You do not.

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He looks less-than-thrilled with how large my head appears here.

TREE HUGGER WRAP – displayed on a bamboo-like plate, slightly spicy with cool avocado spread giving chase, yummus to that hummus with blue tortilla chip sidekicks.  3.5 of 5 fucks awarded.

SHORTS AUTUMN ALE – Fresh, earthy nose, a uniquely sour crescendo, a bitter punch at the back and a crisp epilogue.  Pleasant caramel color…who would want more from their beer?  4.5 of 5 fucks awarded.

We hork (wait, hork isn’t a word?  Ugh…you’ve betrayed me yet again, native language) down our food and slug our beers down.  Pretty nice, pretty tasty, pretty good start. 3.5 of 5 fucks awarded

Next stop?  7 Monks – not far and completely different than Brew.

7 MONKS

Here, we walk into light and mirrors.  Taps decorate the walls, the lights, the doorways.  There’s a central location to order a beverage, poured properly in the right glass, and you can then enjoy in front of a wall of mirrors which my brilliant husband thought at first was another bar top.

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Chalkboards are all the rage, donchya know.

“Oh, hey look…there’s two…nope.  That’s a mirror.”

He should have been physically assaulted for that unfortunate misaligned observation but alas, I’m a drinker, not a fighter.

The back holding the taps is billeted metal and the taps zigzag along it like a maze of booze-birthing door knockers.  It would make for the best Halloween everrrrr.

I order a Whatchya Whatchya Whatchya Want IPA and I do believe in 4-6 weeks, I will have hair growing from my chest.  It didn’t make a fan of me but I’m glad to have had the bitterest experience aside from the ones in my childhood. *writer’s eyes grow misty as she gazes off into an oh-so-distant-memory*

WHATCHYA WHATCHYA WHATCHYA WANT IPA – farmyard nose, extremely bitter entrance, a whisper of fruit at the top and finishes with a bitterer citrus love tap.  This beer basically gave me a wedgie, whooped my ass and took my daddy out to dinner and never called him back.  2 of 5 fucks awarded.

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That monk on my glass – looking distinguished and yet surly. (Whatchya Whatchya Whatchya Want IPA)

LAGUNITAS GRAVENSTIME – citrusy, appley, I-could-drink -nine-of- these-they’re-tasty… 4.5 of 5 fucks awarded.

7M had everything I’d want in an experience except…something.  Maybe a heretic of a football fan, screaming at the TV, ripping his jersey from his sweat-laden torso?  Or maybe a tiny, middle-aged woman, over-liquored and under-dressed, telling one of the bartenders he looks like her son.

4 of 5 fucks awarded

We went back several times to this establishment and each time was nice but it wasn’t my favorite.  The bartenders are knowledgeable and the soft lighting makes you want to stay but I wanted my brain and taste buds to be upended.  ON TO THE NEXT BAR!

UNION TAP AND GRILL

This bar, gloriously narrow, centered around an L-shaped bar has a rustic, old-school feel to it.  Close quarters and Red Wings games mean noisy, beers going down a little too smoothly and it just so happened that we took seats next to the bar’s owner (and of four other bar/restaurants, total).  After just chatting and not knowing this, they gave us a gift card for another of their restaurants in Elk Rapids.  Pretty cool, we thought, drunkishly and soberly.

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Oh…look at these things here!

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Wow…and all these things here!

5 of 5 fucks awarded

After my last, slightly unfavorable IPA experience at 7M, I went with my old fall-back, Shorts Soft Parade.  I have a friend that suggests Soft Parade is a beginner’s craft beer.  I, however, thoroughly disagree.

SHORTS SOFT PARADE – sassy fruit without being sweet, a bit tart in the foreground, soft finish and leaves you wondering if you were ran over by a berry train…hauling alcohol.  This beer creeps up on you and will get you all kinds of tipsy before you can say Therawritesisthebestblogever.  Ahem.  5 of 5 fucks awarded.

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A parade of the soft sort but will knock your @$$ off your bar stool (Shorts Soft Parade)

RARE BIRD

Oh, Rare Bird.  You were the only actual brewery that we visited and I feel like we landed there on the wrong foot.

My Rare Bird experience that Friday night, half in the bag and eager to be one step closer to my Pub Crawl t-shirt, was a bit like a bad trip to the Cirque du Soleil.  Like you just got out of an eye-appointment and your eyes are still dilated, you recently drank an entire bottle of Nyquil and there’s just a ton of colorful people, a band in close proximity and a heat swarming around you for, like, no reason.  The bar was all jostle, elbows, someone’s touching my leg…you know the type.

Mistake me not, the beer was lovely and served appropriately.  I think, had we gone when it was a bit less crowded and when we weren’t well on our way to a .17 BAC, it would have been a wonderfully unique and tasty experience.  Their mug wall was visually alluring and their bar top was the best I had seen in the city.

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Mug wall hither, beverages thither (Blood Orange You Witty and Husband’s Beer, unknown)

3.5 of 5 fucks awarded.

BLOOD ORANGE YOU WITTY – a Belgian-Whitbier mutt showcasing real blood oranges.  My inebriated memory serves me poorly, on this one.  It was fruity, a bit bitter and got the job done.  4 of 5 fucks awarded.

Here’s where things get REALLY hazy.  I know we went to three more bars but I don’t remember the order in which we went.  So, you know.  Sorry not sorry.

FIREFLY

I remember this bar was blue and we met a couple guys from somewhere Londony…also, I insisted that I call the bartender Jeremy Norris.

Sadly, by this time, I was well on my way past beer-thirty and onto drunkard ‘o clock.  From what I can recall, which is very little, I had a great time.  Didn’t order food, no idea what I drank but drink I did.

5 of 5 fucks awarded due to the fact that I can’t remember shit from this place that I’m certain was lovely.

THE FRANKLIN

Again, I don’t remember much from this bar.  I do remember more from here than Firefly so perhaps we were here first.  Who knows these things, anymore…

We ordered up a plate of pierogi and a pizza laden with pepperoni and brie.  Oh.  Em.  Gee.  This was some of the best drunk food I’ve ever had.

PEPPERONI AND BRIE PIZZA – You would think that the pepperoni and the brie would err on the side of salty.  You would be oh-so-wrong.  It was ooey, cheesey, salty and a little oily…the very best drunk food.  We even ate it cold the next morning, slightly hungover in our hotel bed.  Fantastic.  4.8 of 5 fucks awarded (can’t give the full 5 because I wasn’t of sober mind)

PIEROGI – Any fellow Pollock would say that your pierogi-making skills are are criteria by which we judge.  Harshly.  Perfectly creamy potato zipped up inside a purse of toothsome pierogi dough finished with a sautee in butter and a dollop of sour cream.  All the yesses in the world couldn’t describe how it made me feel.  4.8 of 5 fucks awarded.

I was honest with my husband when I told him that the Franklin seemed a little hobbity to me…like it had a Shirefluence (Shire influence for you amateurs.)  And yes, I am reading LOTR right now and yes, it saturates every aspect of my life.  This is the lens through which I view things and no amount of naysaying or filthy looks will change it so, just…don’t.

When you enter the front door, there’s a heavy set of curtains draped at the entrance.  After lifting them, you’re met by a large bar that spans the length of the main room and terrariums on a long, high-top filled with fuzzy, mossy plantlife.

The barkeepers were friendly, knowledgeable and never left us thirsty.  The bar itself and the backing against the wall was impressive.  It looked ancient and noble with its glossy wood and ornate carvings.

You, my dear readers, will read more about The Franklin as we went back a few times and each time had a wonderful experience.

4.5 of 5 fucks awarded.

U AND I LOUNGE

This is one of those bars where feelings that meticulous table settings and fancy glasses are critical to a fine dining experience go to die.  The food and drinks appear blue collar but they truly can bow up to the big boys in the city, fists clenched, teeth gritting.

The regulars are enchanting, to include a gentleman unabashedly and wonderfully stuck in the 1980’s hair metal era, and the service is what you’d expect from a corner bar hole-in-the-wall: friendly, approachable but not overly coddling.

Again, as I was under the influence of many, MANY beers, I don’t remember what I ordered here but I’m certain it was served what what would have been panache had it not been for Guns and Roses blaring from overhead.  Just kidding.  But seriously…Axl Rose’s voice is just one of the worst things that’s ever happened to anyone.  Ever.

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…just gonna leave this here

U and I also seems to be favorited since, in an off-season such as when we were in town, most places close early.  U and I is open until 2 a.m. which is perfect for people who were on vacation and didn’t want to crawl out of the hotel bed until after noon.  Cause putting on pants is awful, generally speaking.

4.8 of 5 fucks awarded

Stay tuned for the next post regarding our adventure coming soon on Thera Writes!

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We play off being shit-housed fairly well, right?

That being said, I know y’all aren’t very patient so I’ll get started right away.  Honestly…I’ll hurry!  Just please…don’t hit me!

 

 

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