Right Brain Brews Blueberry Beer
Traverse City Brewery partners with farmer looking to unload hundreds of gallons of blueberry concentrate
What do you get when you take a farmer in need, add a business that can help – and throw in a few science experiments? A Michigan beer maker is turning to Michigan fruit for their next creation, and it could be the “next big thing” on tap at a Traverse City Brewery.
Step up to the bar and you’ll see Right Brain Brewery has plenty of beer on tap. But they’re branching out – due to a surplus of someone else’s blueberries. Right Brain Brewery Owner Russell Springsteen says, “Our farmer who picks up our spent grain almost every day, reliably, was discussing that he needed to move some fruit, and were we interested in blueberries? Typically we don’t brew with blueberries because it’s very difficult to get that flavor across.”
“He had 200 gallons of concentrate that he was going to dump. I just couldn’t fathom him having to dump that,” Springsteen says. Right Brain’s Head Brewer Josh Thomas says, “We like to know, or think, what can we do with that? Is there any way we can make that into something?”
“Of course we had our mad scientist hats on. ‘We can make a beer out of that!’ We use fruit concentrate all the time,” Thomas said. Springsteen agreed. “We’re creative enough that we can put all that to use. But not dumping it down the drain. That just, that can’t happen. We need to continue to support our local farmers, find a way to get their product to market.”
So that’s what they’re doing. First up – taking the blueberry concentrate and creating a blueberry beer. Thomas says, “Once we got the concentrate and diluted it to make it actual juice we realized we had a lot of liquid. Between 7-800 gallons.” More than enough for the beer they’re about to make. So now they’re working on not one, not two but three recipes: the light, sour blueberry ale; plus a blueberry seltzer; and blueberry soda pop. “So we’re going to use every last bit of that juice.”
It’s definitely an experiment – even they’re not sure how it will turn out. “I don’t know, you know, if we’re on to something new here. But we’re going to try it. If there’s one thing we do well it’s, we’re going to try it. We’ll try anything once,” Thomas says.
But it won’t be long before everyone can taste the big flavor from a little blue berry. “A couple weeks – maybe a week and a half. It won’t be very long. The seltzer will be right there with it and the soda pop maybe by the end of this week,” according to Thomas.