Traverse City, MI

Traverse City Microbrew Festival with Live Music!

By Dylan

Annual Winter Microbrewery and Music Fest

Winter is Traverse City is magical. Bundling up for February cold fronts to hike serene, snowy forests or icy shorelines is half the fun. I love to feel excitement building as soon my eyes open on Saturday morning. By the time I my first cup of coffee is drained, I have already explored trail maps, hourly weather reports and local event calendars. Breakfast in Traverse City is easy to find.  Today I headed to Morsels downtown for a second cup of Intelligencia coffee.

This year the 3rd annual microbrewery festival which as moved from Old Town (a couple blocks of downtown TC) to a fantastic new venue In the Grand Traverse Commons Village. The village is a few miles south west of downtown, next to the hospital. Grand Traverse Commons is wreathed in spooky abandoned asylum buildings and a fantastic wooded trail system.  We are already looking forward to the 4th annual 2013 traverse city winter beer festival.

Michigan has carved out a national niche as a craft beer tastemaker and producer. Northern Michigan farms are beginning to covert their crops to green hops fields, to meet the demands of this growing industry. The Traverse City microbrewery and music festival is a testament to the quality and enthusiasm for local culture and beer.

Festival/Venue Map


Who is on tap?  Only the best!

  • Arbor Brewing - Ypsilanti, MI
  • Goose Island - Kalamazoo, MI
  • North Peak Brewing Co. - Traverse City, Mi
  • Jolly Pumpkin 
  • Crispin Hard Cider
  • Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
  • Unibroue & Cold Spring Brewing Co.
  • New Holland Brewing - Holland Mi
  • Mount Pleasant Brewing 
  • Shorts Brewing - Elk Rapids, MI
    I absolutely love Shorts.  They put on dinner and beer tastings all over.  If you can find one, like at the Noggin Room in the Perry Hotel, it's a great way to spend an evening. 
  • Lagunitas Brewing
  • Boston Beer 
  • Left Foot Charley - Traverse City
  • Brewery Vivant - Grand Rapids
    Brewery Vivant has the best hamburger I have ever tasted.  Please go to their location, which looks like an old monastary or church and get a Farm Hand beer with the burger.  It comes with this incredible sauteed onion, balsamic and mushroom relish.
  • Schmohz Brewery
  • Tri City Brewery
  • Great Lakes Brewery
  • Cheboygan Brewery.
    A newcomer located in downtown Cheboygan, they have a tasting room with snacks.  I like their Lighthouse Ale
  • Midland Brewery
  • Keweenaw Brewery - Houghton MI... yoopers, eh!
  • Frankenmuth Brewery
  • Bells Brewery - Grand Rapids
    Ever heard of a little beer called Oberon? Yeah that's Bells officially sponsoring the beer of Michigan summer 
  • Acoustic Draft Mead - Sweet, cherry mead made in Benzie county
  • Dark Horse Brewery - Marshall Michigan
  • Fort Collins Brewery - Colorado!
  • Founders Brewery - Grand Rapids.  I love their "Solid Gold" beer
  • Arcadia Brewing Co. - Battle Creek Michigan
  • Atwater Brewery - Detroit, MI (not exactly Up North)
  • Odd Side Ales - Located in an old piano factory in Grand Haven, MI right on the Lake Michigan.
  • Womp - Not sure but might be the Widmere Brothers out of Oregon.  Their website rocks 
  • Magic Hat Brewery - South Burlington, Vermont


  • Black Star Farms - Old Mission Peninsula in TC
    The Leelanau Peninsula location is out of the this world.  Tastings are also available on Old Mission and in the Village at Grand Traverse Commons. 
  • Bowers Harbor Vineyards - Old Mission Peninsula in TC
    Bowers winery is my favorite wine tasting stop on Old Mission. The operation is smaller and it feels like a family's working farm.  Old wine barrels are for sale.  A giant saint bernard is loafing around.  Byers has outdoor and indoor tasting.
  • Brys Estate - Old Mission Peninsula in TC
    Brys tasting room has the feel of a mountainside wine cellar. It is almost too perfect if you know what I mean. 
  • Chateau Chantal - Old Mission Peninsula in TC
  • Chateau Grand Traverse - Old Mission Peninsula in TC
  • Peninsula Cellars - Old Mission Peninsula in TC
    This is an old red school house converted into a tasting room.  Meghann likes their "Detention" red. The label is a chalkboard that reads lines of "I will not drink bad wine..." 
  • 2 Lads Winery - Old Mission Peninsula in Traverse City
    2 Lads is new to the area, started by an Aussie and a local guy. Very modern design for the building and branding.  Their tasting room has a great view and the their sparking pino grigio has the coolest bottles I've ever seen. 
  • Northern Natural - Organic Cider from Kaleva, Michigan
  • Uncle John’s Cider Mill - St. Johns, MI
  • Vander Mill Cider - Spring Lake, MI

Go Snow Hiking

Remember to bring your boots!  There is a trailhead right next to the festival at the Village.  The trailhead itself is at parking lot R, which is right next to the old asylum buildings.  When you see the asylum, look towards the woods and you will see a great sledding hill alongside signs with trail maps and the formal entrance into the woods.  Happy trails!

Breakfast and Treats

Morsels let's you sample everything in bite sized a la carte niblets. The locally owned and operated restaurant and coffee shop is great for wifi and coffee. Grabbing a box of mix matched delicious carrot cake and red velvet treats to take with you and share later will guarantee you are out of the dog house.

Traverse City Hotels

There are plenty of great Traverse City hotels but most of the accommodations are at least a mile from the historic business district. Grand Traverse Resort is a mid-luxury golf resort with shopping and resaurants. The Aeire high atop the hotel's 17th floor has fine dining is where you want to be at sunset. Stunning views of grand traverse bay, Leelanlau peninsula and old mission peninsula. Grand traverse resort is home to the jack Nicolas PGA golf course, the bear. The resort is a few miles east of downtown TC. You will need to take a shuttle or drive when you visit town.

Park Place Hotel is a downtown destination, hotel and attraction. If you stay at Park Place you can walk to everything downtown. My recommendation if your are for a surprisingly nice place to spend some down time, check out the Cambria Suites hotel with its modern decor and a Wolfgang Puck cafe in the lobby. For an additional daily fee you can have the Cambria hotel shuttles on call to take you anywhere in Traverse, including the annual Microbrewery festival!

Cozy Fireside

Writing this post sitting next to a crackling fire in front of the hearth at the Charlevoix rod and gun club feels just right. Eva made home cooked Sunday lunch at the club with hearty soups, fried chicken and sticky cake. Dog training is in full swing getting bird dogs ready for the upcoming seasons.

I love it Up North.

View Traverse City Microbrew Festival with Live Music! on Google Maps

What Do You Think about Traverse City, MI?

Adventure Rating: B

If you like fun, music, beer, Michigan wine and/or snow, you will love the TC Microbrew and Music festival!  Meghann and I went in 2011 and loved it.  The location was in Old Town so I am really looking forward to the change of scenery.  The Village is very authentic and I'm excited to see thousands of people milling around and cocktailing in the falling snow.

Locals Tip

It's going to be COLD!  Bring hand warmers, you know, the little packets you get for skiing.  Wear mittens, a hat, long underwear under your pants and plenty of cash.  Up North is notorious for only accepting cash the Traverse beer fest is no exception.  Find the fire pits early and often.

up north michigan poster

"Tall soy cappuccino, please!" Meghann "Is today for skiing, snowboarding, sledding or cross-country?" Dylan

Geocache Winner

We want to see photos!  The first person to post a photo or video to our Facebook wall from the 2012 Traverse City Microbrewery and Music Festival wins a free CD from a band playing the event.