Michigan Breweries- From the Farm to the Growler- Brewery Terra Firma Does it All

A late afternoon stop to experience Brewery Terra Firma was just what the doctor ordered. My brother was up visiting for spring break and I almost never get to spend time with just him. I am lucky to see him quite often despite living in different parts of the state, but I can’t remember the last time it was just he and I. So it was really nice to be able to stop in and have a beer with him for some one-on-one time. We went to Terra Firma because I had been there before, I knew right where it was and that the beer would be great.

The Terra Firma tasting room sits along side a country road just outside the Traverse City shopping district surrounding the mall area. It’s only a couple of miles out-of-town, but it feels like you are way out in the country when you’re there. Terra Firma (Latin for “solid earth”) is actually a farm, brewery and a tasting room. They grow everything they need to make beer right there on their own property.

The tasting room is in the big yellow barn with a big wall of windows overlooking the hops field which currently lies dormant as it is still early spring in Michigan. We were greeted by these two lovely ladies who gave us all the details.

GrandTraverseView.com's list of Michigan Breweries- Terra Firma Tasting Room

Terri and Kristina at Brewery Terra Firma Tasting Room

Although we didn’t meet him today, John Niedermaier, who is a Traverse City native is the Brew Master. He has years of experience (some at Traverse Brewing Company and some at Right Brain Brewery) and supposedly to date, over 1,000 personal recipes for beer. It would take some time and dedication just to taste that many beers, let alone to actually be the one brewing them. While John has that many brews under his belt, you will find no more than forty to taste at the tap-room at any given time. Still, that’s quite a lot.  Today there were twelve. I tasted three.

GrandTraverseView.com's list of Michigan Breweries- Brewery Terra Firma Tasting Room

The Beer

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Spires in the Outfield- A trip to Grand Traverse Commons

It’s a Saturday morning in April, and while it’s a beautiful sunny day here in northern Michigan. It is still early spring so it’s still not quite beach weather yet. If it were, I might grab a coffee and a book and head down to the bay for a little while. Instead, there’s an indoor farmer’s market at the commons that I have decided to check out.

If you’re not familiar with the commons, it is the area of town that was historically the grounds of the Traverse City State Hospital. You may hear it referred to as The Mercado, The Old State Hospital, Building 50, or more formally as The Village at Grand Traverse Commons. I’ve heard it referred to most (by locals) as The Commons.

When you’re driving north into Traverse City on US Route 31, (when you are near Meijers grocery store) if you look up you’ll see the red spires peeking out over the fields and above the treeline. Today,the tall pointed peaks stand out against the bright blue sky pointing the way. To get there, continue past the intersection at Fourteenth Street and turn left onto W. Eleventh street.

Red Spires at Grand Traverse Commons

Just past the State of Michigan Offices, go straight through the four way stop and up toward The Commons. You can go straight up to Building 50 and park around the circle drive, or you can turn left and go around back. I parked in the front and entered through this door to the center of the Mercado.

Front entrance to The Mercado at Grand Traverse Commons

Center Entrance off the Front Entrance

Back entrance to The Mercado

Back Entrance to the Left End of The Mercado Hallway

Around the back, you’ll find more parking as well as some other businesses that have established themselves in what appear to be the restored out-buildings from when the original hospital flourished. There are two entrances to the Mercado from here, one at each end, and these are more difficult to see especially if you don’t know where you’re going. The key is to look for the red signs. They are painted the same red color as the spires.

The Mercado is an indoor marketplace that now inhabits the restored lower level of the main building. Partly underground, with it’s pale yellow brick walls, it feels a little bit like a secret underground tunnel. But the sun shines in brightly through the windows and creates an ambiance that is warm and refreshing at the same time.

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Inside view of The Mercado at the Commons

As soon as my eyes adjusted to the lighting (after coming in from the bright sunshine), I was drawn to some fresh greens and couldn’t help but to stop for a photo.  Believe it or not, Continue reading