Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Bad Bear Brewing - Brewery Review

Written by  Tammie Wahl
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Bad Bear Brewing - Their Flight Of Beers

Bad Bear Brewing is one of the most recent breweries to open in this great beer state of ours. Bad Bear is located within Sleeping Bear Winery in Albion, Mi. A couple weeks ago Paul and I decided to take a drive to visit Bad Bear for dinner. When you walk in the door, to the left you have the tasting room for Sleeping Bear and to the right you have a well decorated brewery.
Bad Bear Brewing - Reuben SandwichThere is a medium sized bar that seats maybe 10 - 15 people and several tables. There is also a small stage area with a cool banner featuring the Bad Bear logo. Bad Bear often has live music in the evenings and we found out later that we will get to experience Bad Bears first karaoke night. Paul and I of course were drawn to the right. The atmosphere inside the brewery is very relaxed and inviting. We took a seat at the bar and were greeted instantly. The owner, John Burtka was expecting us so we asked for him. We looked over the beer menu while we waited.

Bad Bear has a small menu with a couple appetizers, a few sandwiches and some pizzas. After speaking witht he owner, we found out that this is dliberate. He explained that it is actually better to have only a dozen menu items that you do very well rather than pages upon pages of menu items that usually aren't done as well simply because there are too many to keep good quality control. He has found that people actually appreciate not having so many choices. I have to say, he was right about doing their menu items well. Our food was delicious!!! Paul of course had the Reuben Sandwich. A fun fact about their Reuben, they get the corned beef from Detroit and they actually braise it in their  Brown Ale for 6 hours before using it for the Reuben. I had the BBQ Chicken pizza. It was so good that I had to actually take the left overs out to the car so I would stop eating it!

Bad Bear Brewing - BBQ Chicken PizzaWe were lucky enough to not only get a chance to get to know the owner but also the brewer. We quickly found out that they are neighbors and decided only about a year ago to open a brewery. The brewer, Ben Tackett, has been a home brewer for years and seems to have fallen right into the role of making beer for the general public. The beer is fantastic! My favorite is the MPA which stands for Michigan Pale Ale. I have never tasted anything like this beer before. It combines my 2 favorite styles of beer, a Brown and and IPA. These 2 flavors mix to create a hoppy and malty mix of beer goodness. We were a little spoiled at Bad Bear because they pulled out a couple beers that had not been released yet. One of which was their Hopcicle. This beer is made with 12 different kinds of hops but don't let the name fool you, this is a well balanced IPA that is not punch you in the face hoppy. The other was Polish Breakfast Stout, an amazing Stout that even I liked! One of the many unique things about Bad Bear is that they run a totally electiric brewing systems which was built by hand by the brewer who is also an electrician by trade.

Bad Bear Brewing GrowlersI can not end this article without mentioning the story behind the bear image in the Bad Bear logo. The bear in the logo is actually Wojtek. A bear who was an actual member of the Polish Army during WWII. This bear was adopted by Polish solders as a cub and quickly became a member of the company. They tought him to salute, drink beer (which was his favorite drink), and smoke cigarettes. They used him to carry large mortars to the front lines during battles. After the war ended, Wojtek lived out the remainder of his days in a zoo and was often visited by former members of the Polish Army who threw him cigarettes which he proceeded to smoke. I loved hearing the story behind the bear in the logo and now every time I see Bad Bear's logo I smile a little.

Bad Bear Brewery is a great little brewery located right off I94 in Albion, Mi. It is owned and operated by wonderful people who we throughly enjoyed getting to know. It has only been a couple weeks since we visited Bad Bear but Paul and I have already discussed heading there for dinner again. If you ever find yourself in the Albion area I highly suggest stopping in to check out this great little brewery.

To see more photos from Bear Bear Brewing Click Here.