Thursday, December 6, 2012

Michigan Musings: Links & Commentary

Michigan Expats - Commentary - See All Commentary
By Doctor

There's a lot going on in Michigan at the moment. It's also Christmas time, so everyone's got tons of stuff to do. It makes it a great time for some Michigan Musings - a one stop place for links to top stories coming out of Michigan with brief comments of wisdom and humor from yours truly. 

It's happening, today. After the overreach/getting-their-asses-handed-to-them by the Michigan unions on the November ballot, it was bound to happen (more here). Unions have been a strong part of Michigan history and the growth of the middle class, but unions like other special interests have been more interested in power and influence than doing what makes sense and betters workers and society. It makes sense. Give the workers the freedom to choose.

Will Detroit Go Bankrupt?
No, Mitt Romney isn't involved. Instead, Detroit city leaders seem determined to steer the city off the cliff into bankruptcy (the city can't afford toilet paper for firefighters). A financial manager could still happen, but a complicated bankruptcy may be coming. Or will President Obama fly in and save the day again? 

New Detroit Arena
The city may be teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, but that didn't stop Mike Illitch from releasing preliminary plans for a new arena in Downtown Detroit to possibly play home to both the Red Wings and the Pistons. It has a long way to go with the city financial situation and that it is a $650 million proposal that'll require lots of public funding.

We attended a MichAgain reception in Grand Rapids the night before Thanksgiving which is part of a greater effort from a collaboration of Michigan organizations and businesses to lure Michigan Expats back home. There's an upcoming event in Detroit on December 27. I've recently run into people who've moved back from Florida, New York, and Washington D.C., and hopefully the trend will continue. Shoot us questions and comments.

Winter Beer Festival Scalper Scandal
The 8th Annual Michigan Brewers Guild Winter Beer Festival set for February 23 at Fifth Third Ballpark just north of Grand Rapids sold out in less than 14 hours on Saturday. What's the problem? A handful of scalpers scooped up a bunch of tickets and now the Guild is trying to void those sales and maintain brand management after lots of Enthusiast Members did not get tickets. Laws of supply and demand need not apply.

More Beer (City U.S.A.) News
I think that's enough for me, for now. I think I've got one more Traverse City Food & Brew post in me from my November plus I'll be visiting the Grand Rapids Brewing Co. soon. The Right-to-Work debate needs to be addressed more fully and I may use the Scalper Scandal as an excuse to write an economics lesson on supply and demand. However, next may be a list of awesome Christmas gift ideas highlighting all things Michigan.

Comment, email us (, or send us a shout out on Facebook or Twitter (@MichiganExpats) as to what you'd like us to write about with any questions you'd like us to answer.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Traverse City Food & Brew Tour: Part II - Right Brain Brewery

Michigan Expats - Commentary - See All Commentary
By Doctor

I'm slowly rolling out my recap of my last visit to Traverse City in November where I attended the BRIM conference (recap here and here) as well as a personal mini-food and brew tour of the Cherry Capital. In Part I, I wrote about my first visit to The Filling Station microbrewery. Today I'm highlighting my visit to Right Brain Brewery, a personal favorite, and my first visit to their new location in TC. 

Right Brain Brewery
A family favorite spot for a few years now, I’ve been looking forwarding to a return visit to Right Brain for months to see how Traverse City’s most interesting brewery fit into their new space just south of downtown.

In many ways, Right Brain hasn’t changed much. The original concept and inspiration Salon Saloon relocated along with the brewery and you can still have a beer and get your haircut. The pub still doubles as a local art gallery propagated by fun and creative works by local artists. There is still a table full of board games that you and your friends can set out and play while you sit and enjoy your beer. Yes, the beer is still fantastic (more on that in a bit) and with over twenty taps on site, there is always something new to try.

But the space is cavernous. The good news is that you shouldn’t have a tough time finding a seat, but it does lose the coziness that the original brewpub had, but it wasn’t quite as bad sitting at the bar.

I was able to catch Right Brain founder, Russ Springsteen, and ask for a beer recommendation. He quickly suggested I try Steve the Imperial Brown, a cask conditioned imperial brown ale, and noted that it may be the best beer they’ve ever brewed. I can’t comment on whether it’s their best ever, but it was damn good, a strong, yet surprisingly smooth, flavorful imperial brown.

I also had to try a small sample of the Mangalista Pig Porter. Right Brain puts smoked mangalista pig headed right into the brew. The result, the beer won a gold medal at the Great American Brew Festival. My impression: the porter has an incredible aroma. It smells like bacon. Yes, bacon beer. You have to try it to believe it.

I also want to congratulate Right Brain and their C.E.O. Stout (Coffee. Espresso. Oatmeal) for being voted Michigan’s #1 stout on on Stout Day, November 8. I was actually talking with Leif Kolt, Right Brain’s Kickdog (Michigan brewer employees have the best titles, Leif does events, branding, and marketing) about the poll that night at the BRIM reception where he was serving up WILLpower Pale Ale and how Right Brain was excited to have C.E.O. in the top 5. Then the next morning, I see that C.E.O. Stout made a late push to come out top in the poll.

Congrats to Right Brain Brewery on the Michigan Stout title and the new space. I look forward to my next visit to Traverse and the brewpub which should come around Christmas time. I’ll definitely stop by for some C.E.O. Stout.