Jennifer Hamilton

Jennifer Hamilton

Jennifer Hamilton has lived in various cities around the great state of Michigan and presently resides in Traverse City. When not drinking, examining, and researching the great craft beers offered in this region, Jennifer can be found trying to balance her marathon training schedule, day job, MSW course load, and three rambunctious dogs.  In Jennifer's professional opinion, beer is the glue that holds a busy schedule together; she spends a lot of time testing said theory.

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The LeLu Cafe in Northport may be commonly known for its extensive local wine collection, but it has a sneaky good beer selection as well. The LeLu Cafe has the most relaxed atmosphere in Leelanau County, with lounge areas, a great outdoor patio, and window-seat daybeds. Live music is played Wednesday through Saturday, starting at 9pm nightly.


If there is one monthly event you do not want to miss in Traverse City, it is Brewtopia. Presented and hosted at Right Brain Brewery, this food and beer pairing is uncomparable to any other pairing in the region. Often, the food is made in-house by Chef Mike to accompany the beers. At other times, the beer masters partner with other local eateries to create pairings that were previously unthinkable.

ridge artciel

Northern Michigan has quietly opened another brewery. The Ridge Microbrewery & Restaurant has opened in the former Eagles Ridge Conference Center, which is located directly behind the Leelanau Sands Casino. The first notable aspect of this new brewery is the view.

northport brewery review

The village of Northport sits near the very tip of the Leelanau Peninsula. It is home to wineries, phenomenal eateries, and most importantly, Northport Brewing. This quaint brewery is located on West Nagonaba Street, just a mere three blocks from the village marina and Northport Bay. The atmosphere inside the brewery and in Northport is so laid back that even a quick visit feels like you’re on vacation.

hop lot brewing article

The moment every beer-drinking, Northern-Michigander has been waiting for has finally arrived: Suttons Bay’s Hop Lot Brewing Company is open for business. Co-owners and brothers, Steve and Drew Lutke, have poured an enormous amount of effort into crafting this brewery into a fabulous place to enjoy the fresh outdoor air while drinking great beer. Don’t take my word for it though, swing up M22 and check it out for yourself.

the franklin

Michiganders only get a few months of warm weather each year. If you are anything like me, it is imperative to soak up the sunshine as often as possible. That is why I am constantly on the lookout for places with great outdoor patios. One of the best patios Traverse City has to offer sits atop The Franklin. Not only is the patio atmosphere worth seeing, but the beer selection is out of this world.

 mud sweat beers article

Beer tastes better when it’s earned. Physical activities where you are forced to exert yourself in a strenuous manner seem well worth it with a tasty reward at the end. Clearly, I am leading you all in the direction of a Northern Michigan craft beer celebration unlike any other. Right Brain Brewery is once again sponsoring, ‘Mud, Sweat, and Beers’ on May 2, 2015 and will undoubtedly be a complete and delightful mess.


There are some events that you look forward to year round. These include days like Christmas, your birthday, and the annual Short’s Brewing Company’s Anniversary Extravaganza. Every year this event is wild, joyous, and overflowing with great beer (classics and new releases!) This year will not be an exception; April 25, 2015 marks the Eleven Year Anniversary Extravaganza and you do not want to miss it.

rare bird pub article

Breweries everywhere are quickly popping up faster than the average person can find time to visit. With such a quick increase in great beer, brewers are seeking ways to differentiate themselves from each other. Rare Bird Brew Pub is no exception; this brewery offers a wide variety of their own brewed beers, as well as serving up fantastic brews from other craft breweries in their taproom.

Rare Bird generally has at least four of their own brews on tap, all strong in both taste and ABV’s. With names such as Pants Party American Pale Ale and Large Marge Belgian Special, you can’t help but get a chuckle out of each order. There are about thirty taps going at any time, making the selection of beers vast. Founder’s, Short’s, and Brewery Vivant are always well represented with both their latest and most classic brews. Additionally, Rare Bird offers wine, ciders, and a full liquor bar, making it easy to appease even the finickiest of drinkers.

If you like great craft beer, chances are your palette will go crazy over the Pork Belly Nachos. There is 99% chance that these are the best nachos in Traverse City. If you have a contender, please let me know as soon as possible so I can check them out. Other savory, edible items include the garlic dusted frites and the charcuterie board. All of the menu items pair wonderfully with Rare Bird’s beer, though I’m slightly biased considering I think beer pairs well with all food.

While enjoying your beer, you have the opportunity to watch the brewing process through large glass windows on the east end of the brew pub. Ginormous picnic tables make up the majority of the seating, making it a great place for groups or getting to know the new neighbor sitting next to you. Private booths and high top tables are available as well, so feel free to get cozy on date night.

I strongly encourage getting a flight of whatever brews have “recently hatched” to enjoy the full range of flavors that Rare Bird has to offer. Keep your eyes peeled for punny aviation and bird personification as well, this brew pub is delightfully witty.

the parlor article 

With a diverse and elaborate selection of draft and bottled craft beers, The Parlor is one of Traverse City’s best locations to visit for a great beverage. Their happy hour deals will make your jaw drop, consisting of half off all food and beverages, Monday-Saturday, 4pm-7pm. A few of the breweries represented include Short’s Brewing Company, Founder’s Brewing Company, New Holland Brewing Company, and Right Brain Brewery. With such a tremendous happy hour, that puts both the Dirty Bastard from Founder’s and Soft Parade from Short’s at a mere $3 per bottle. The beer list is ever-rotating, so the opportunity to try something new is always presented. Of course, the wine and signature cocktail list is extensive as well, so you can always bring your non-beer-drinking friends along for the experience.