TC Brewery Road Trip Part 1 [MiBA]

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March 11, 2013 by kkeerr

Our wedding anniversary occurred this past weekend and Austin offered up the plan of going to Traverse City for a night and visiting the many breweries there.  He said that he considered making it a surprise but knew I would be excited to plan and organize stuff like this so he told me a few days in advance.  Then I did what I do and made a Google doc to be accessed on the road with hours, kitchen times, menus, and tap lists.

Our “Six Years with Beers” adventure began Saturday morning after we dropped my dogs off at my parent’s house and traded cars with my mom.  By 8:30 we were on the road heading north.


We switched drivers after a quick breakfast.


Even my mom’s dancing flower thing is excited to be heading north.







Our first stop was Short’s, which is a pretty good way to start this kind of trip.  Short’s provides an excellent combination of good solid beers with more experimental ones that you just have to try.
We each ordered a tasting flight and we split their Tear for Eddie appetizer (“A pint glass of pretzel twists accompanied by Short’s spicy pilsner mustard, Huma-Lupa-Licious cheese dip, and peanut butter & Soft Parade jelly dip.”)


My flight from bottom right and working back; Abnormal Genius, Irish Red, Kickback, Earl of Brixom, and Sweet Taters

Austin's flight. From bottom left to top right; Evil Urges, Gingersnap, Carob Stout, Goodnight Bodacious, and The Village Reserve.

Austin’s flight. From bottom left to top right; Evil Urges, Gingersnap, Carob Stout, Goodnight Bodacious, and The Village Reserve.

As you can see, Austin was in the mood for dark beer.  There wasn’t a bad beer in this lot.  The one we liked the least would be the Sweet Taters.  However, this is the second sweet potato beer we’ve had in the past couple of months and we haven’t liked either and since Bell’s and Short’s aren’t known for making bad beers we just assuming it isn’t a style we like.  Our favorites were the Irish Red and Austin really liked loved the Gingersnap.  I wish I would have tried the Locals Light to compare against the light beer from North Peak…next time.  We also really liked the Goodnight Bodacious which is a Double Black India Pale Ale and it has a great balance of hops and malt.  I had wanted to try Abnormal Genius for a while and I ended up liking it a lot more than Austin (it was probably his second least favorite).  It is an Imperial English Golden Ale and while I thought it went great with the PB&J pretzel dip Austin thought the that combo killed the flavors of the beer.  It’s interesting how two  people (especially ones that have no idea what they are doing) can get such different flavors from a beer.  
Short’s is set up so that you seat yourself and order at the bar which is perfect when you just want to sit back and try a lot of beers with interruption.  I felt that the gentleman that greeted us and gave us the beer list was very knowledge but I have my doubts about the girl with whom we actually placed our order – perhaps she was new because she seemed slightly overwhelmed.  Overall the experience was fantastic, the beers were great, the staff was friendly, the place was clean with a laid back atmosphere.  Our experience may have been much different had it been tourist season, I guess we will have to go back this summer and see how it compares. 
Just the facts ma’am:
Short’s Brewing Company
Location: 121 N. Bridge St. Bellaire, MI 49615
Established: 2004
Type: Microbrewery
Number of Taps: 20
Austin’s Overall Experience Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Pint Glasses 
Beer Ratings:
Evil Urges: 70/100
Gingersnap: 96/100
Carob Stout: 67/100
Goodnight Bodacious: 85/100
The Village Reserve: 82/100
Sweet Taters: 60/100
Earl of Brixom: 77/100
Kickback: 80/100
Irish Red: 90/100
Abnormal Genius: 75/100

After Short’s and a quick stroll around downtown Bellaire we made a lovely drive around the bays on our way to The Jolly Pumpkin.

Leaving the Jolly Pumpkin

Leaving the Jolly Pumpkin

I was a little confused about what the Jolly Pumpkin wanted to be…our waiter (who I think was concerned that we were only getting drinks and apps – Sorry dude, the bar was full so we have to get a table and your special is $20 something bucks.) was wearing a bowling shirt and had a tattoo sleeve and we could see into the kitchen area to the dude with huge gauges in his ears but the place was really nice and filled with business casual.  The two things didn’t seem to mesh and the vegetarian option is either a cheese pizza or a salad for $15.  It just wasn’t working for me.  Austin got the crab tater tots which he said were good and we got what was supposed to be a peppermint crème brule that had absolutely no peppermint taste which was disappointing because had we known we were just getting regular crème brule we would have picked a different dessert.  For our drinks we ordered the two beers they had on tap the Bam Biere and the Bam Noire.  Both were fine but Brewery Vivant does better farmhouse ales, in my opinion.  I just wasn’t comfortable in there and I don’t think our waiter was thrilled we weren’t getting entrees.  The atmosphere wasn’t what we were looking for to begin with but if we were going out and planning on spending $50 or more person we still would not go to the Jolly Pumpkin.  Oh and the waiter thought Austin was a chick.  Austin took it as a compliment to his shiny hair but I thought it was a dumb move on the waiters part.
Just the facts ma’am:
The Jolly Pumpkin
Location: 13512 Peninsula Dr Traverse City, MI 49686-9717
Established: 2004
Type: Microbrewery
Number of Taps: 2 apparently
Austin’s Overall Experience Rating: 3 out of 5 Pint Glasses (Austin wasn’t nearly as uncomfortable as I – probably because his hair was inadvertently complimented)
Beer Ratings:
Bam Beire: 70/100
Bam Noire: 70/100

To be continued…


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