Traverse City Beer: Nick Panchamé, Right Brain Brewery

To celebrate Traverse City Beer Week, MyNorth will be running a daily interview with brewers and pub owners in the Northern Michigan microbrew scene. Today we check in with Nick Panchamé, Head Brewer at Right Brain Brewery in Traverse City.

Can you tell me about your background? How long have you been working for Right Brain?

I have been working for Right Brain for two and a half years now. I’m from New Jersey, from a town called Clifton that’s about twelve miles outside of Manhattan. I went to culinary school at a place called Johnson and Wales in Providence, Rhode Island and I got a Culinary Arts and Food Service Management degree. I started working for a contract food service place in Queens to earn money to help pay off some of my debts. It definitely wasn’t my dream job and the whole time I was home brewing. I took an internship at a place called Cricket Hill Brewing Company in New Jersey. I worked as an intern there for four months and then I was offered a job as an assistant brewer at 508 Gastrobrewery in Manhattan and I worked there for a year. I started putting out resumes to breweries and that’s about the time that Russ gave me a call. My girlfriend is originally from Bloomfield Hills and we met in college. We were in Petoskey for a wedding and so I was only about 45 minutes away from Traverse City when I talked to him. I came down for an interview and talked to him and about 2.5-3 weeks later I was living in Michigan and working at Right Brain Brewery. Right Brain is very much a culinary minded brewery so it worked out really well based off of my knowledge.

So if you had to tell someone about the vibe inside Right Brain what would you say?

It’s a very community driven space and nothing matches at all. Everything was painted by people in the community who were hanging out when we were moving to this new location. Some of the furniture we bought and people donated random furniture too. When we first moved in, there was a high quality wood that was considered a fire code violation that we had to take down. We took it and made picnic tables out of the wood. There are old barbershop chairs in here, we have stuff from the metalworks and welding place that’s next door. It’s crazy and all over the place and fits the culture of the beer and the message behind Right Brain, it’s creative and open minded.

What are you looking forward to about TC Beer Week?

I think that the IPA Challenge will be really cool because it’s the first time that somebody has been able to get all of the ‘just Traverse City’ breweries together. We are also hosting a beer dinner with our head chef that should be good.

What’s your favorite beer? And what’s your most popular beer?

I always change and switch all over the place. CEO Stout is our biggest seller. It’s really high quality and distinct. We use way more coffee than most people and you can really taste that. But if you don’t like it and you come to the brew pub there will be something that you can try and that you can’t get anywhere else.

Personally, I like all the creative things and I am always trying new things. This summer instead of water we used pure cherry juice for a brew. Once you fermented the sugar out of the cherry juice it left the sour part. If you drank it like a sour beer it was good.

At the Great American Beer Festival in Denver the Denver Post rated our Thai Peanut Beer as the “Number One Beer to Try” at the festival. That’s a seasonal beer that has peanut butter, Thai chili peppers, coconut and fresh cilantro in it.

Learn more about Right Brain Brewery on their website.

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