Who the shell are we?

About Us

Our Story

It was 2019. Some local visionaries agreed that, for all its splendor, Mackinac Island was missing something. The answer quickly became obvious. A brewery and distillery experience that captures the true character of the island itself. And so the journey began…

Early on, it was realized that brewing and distilling would not be possible on-site due to the island’s unique infrastructure. Not to worry. Necessity, being the mother of invention, led to two great brewing and distilling partners; both Michigan companies. Right Brain Brewery, an award-winning craft brewery in Traverse City, was “tapped” to provide signature beers. Les Cheneaux Distillery, located in the heart of the Eastern Upper Peninsula, was “hand-selected” to create private label spirits—perfect for crafting “all-Michigan” cocktails.  Then there are the dining menus…destined to be local favorites. We have created a unique selection of sociables, lunch and dinner options with something for every taste.

So fast forward to June 2020. Great Turtle Brewery & Distillery opened its doors and ushered in a whole new chapter in the island’s dining and beverage scene. Our goal here is simple…welcome every guest to slow down (hey, it’s named Great Turtle, right?). Savor the moment, surrounded by family and friends.

Great Turtle means great times…welcome!

FAQs

Great Turtle Brewery and Distillery is located on Mackinac Island – right downtown, across from Shepler’s Ferry Dock.

Pets are welcome on the Great Turtle Brewery and Distillery Outdoor Patio on Hoban street.

We have several menu items that are gluten free. Just ask your server about the options.

We are open from May through October every year.

There are two ferry lines that can get you to Mackinac Island. We recommend Shepler’s Ferry, located directly across Main Street from our restaurant.

No reservations are needed for Great Turtle Brewery and Distillery.

Due to the unique infrastructure of Mackinac Island, Great Turtle Brewery and Distillery is unable to brew on-site. We have partnered with award winning Right Brain Brewery out of Traverse City to provide our Northern Michigan made beers.

Groups are welcome at Great Turtle Brewery and Distillery. Please contact us here to get more information on group bookings.

Great Turtle Brewery and Distillery offers 5 custom beers (some are seasonal). We also have a rotating tap of popular domestics and imports. Ask your server for what on tap the day of your visit.

We have our own private label Great Turtle Gin, Vodka, and Whiskey distilled by Les Cheneaux Distillery in Cedarville, MI in the Upper Peninsula, along with a full selection of premium and well liquors.

Great Turtle Brewery and Distillery loves families! We offer a great kid’s menu and cater to family members of all ages. Bring your whole family and have a fantastic time!

About Mackinac

Mackinac Island, located at the north end of Lake Huron between Michigan’s Upper and Lower peninsulas is the Jewel of the Great Lakes. The island is a popular vacation destination, annually drawing hundreds of thousands of visitors to its beautiful shores. For centuries, the island played an integral role in the lives of local Native Americans. In fact, the word “Michilimackinac” means “Great Turtle”, and comes from the story of the island’s creation. Today, we celebrate our great island home and welcome you to enjoy all it has to offer.

Meet our people

Justin Barnes

Director of Operations

For 30 years, I have been working in the restaurant business and have held every position from Dishwasher to Director of Operations. My favorite cocktail is a Vieux Carre – a combination of rye whiskey and cognac mixed with bold flavors. When I get a day off, I am a habitual golfer and love boating. Over the winter months, you will find me on a ski hill or traveling with my family. When I get to the island for leisure, my favorite thing to do is bike M-185.  We hope you enjoy your time at Great Turtle!

Chad Hoeksema

General Manager

I have been in the food and bar industry for 24 years – 20 of them on beautiful Mackinac Island.  I get asked about what I like to drink, and I guess I would have to say I love trying a variety of drinks but my favorites would be a nice dark rich stout or a classic vodka and soda.  In season, I love to explore Northern Michigan and find some hot fishing spots, off-season I will be deep sea fishing in the Florida Keys, traveling with my wife, Pearl, and being a great uncle to my 4 nephews and 1 beautiful niece. My favorite thing to do on a night off?  Nothing beats a nice peaceful sunset cruise around Mackinac on one of the island’s beautiful evenings.

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