What do you get when you mix 5 parts excellence and 7 parts terribleness? Bart’s Brewery in Bay City.
I first set out on this adventure because it was recommended to me by a customer at work. Seeing how we have a decent selection of micro-brews to sell, I often find myself having discussions about beers and breweries with customers at my tables. We first started talking about the breweries here in town: Frankenmuth Brewery and Sullivan’s Black Forest. After I had mentioned how much I enjoyed Sullivan’s, the customer then damn near forced me to go to Bart’s in Bay City, as he stated that “they have the best beer in the area”.
It was about a week later and my lady-friend and I decided to check it out. At first, I was planning on trying out their food and beer, but seeing how I’m a poor guy with a fair amount of student debt, I decided to eat at Taco Bell on the way in order to save money for more beer (I’m a good decision maker). Upon arrival, I was excited to get inside. Through the windows I could see right into where their brew-master works his “magic”. Just from looking in, I could tell that they have a fairly large operation based on how large their brewery was.
Pre-Flight Game Face
So we get inside, take a seat, and wait what seemed like forever for a server to get to us (it was $6 growler refill night; a real local hit). At first I was only planning on having a couple of pints, but I made a split-second decision and decided to do their 12 beer flight, which consists of a dozen 5 ounce glasses for only $12 (best flight deal ever). Once I got the flight, I then had to decide where to start. For this particular one, I started with the darker beers and ended with the light for the initial taste round, then I just kind of drank them at random because… well… that’s what I felt like doing at that point in time.
My main reason for getting the flight was so that I could really see what Bart’s was all about. Seeing how I was drinking all twelve of their beers, I figured that I might as well rate them 1-12 while I was at it, with 12 being the worst and 1 being the absolutely excellent, most awesome, wonderful, tasty, and gnarly brew. With the above being said, let’s get to it.
Bart’s Beers: Rated from 12 (absolute worst) to 1 (absolutely excellent, most awesome, wonderful, tasty, and gnarly)
Just a little side note, the first few were insanely terrible, but don’t worry, the
beer gets better as I move through the list!
12. Cherry Wheat: Not going to lie, this one tastes just like Nyquil and cough drops. It honestly tasted like Bart was sick one day, had a shit ton of cough drops and cherry flavored Nyquil, suddenly found himself not being sick anymore, and then poured ALL of the Nyquil and cough drops into the beer (yes, all of it, ever), and then served it up like it was some glorious thing to be proud of. I don’t mean to sound like a dick or nothin’, but this was probably the worst beer I’ve ever tasted.
12. Doppelbock: Yes, there is indeed another beer that deserves nothing more than last place. After having my first taste, I looked at Wolffenslayer (my lady-friend) and told her with complete honesty that it tasted “like a dead tree limb covered with sugar”. Don’t act stupid, you probably know what an old stick tastes like for some reason just like I do. Want to get a sample of this beer at home? Take an old ass stick, cover it in sugar, let it sit in water for a while, drink the water…. there you have it: Bart’s Doppelbock.
11. Lemon Shandy: More like “Lemon Shitty”. Who made this shit?! Mr. Clean, himself?! Seriously, I could clean my floors with this one.
Due to the tie for last, there is no 10. We shall skip to 9.
9. Belgian Blonde: Although it was way better than the others mentioned above, this one was just weird. It smelled like eggs for some reason (really), and it was extremely sweet. The after taste was actually not too bad, but the initial taste was just god awful.
8. Brown Ale: Realistically, this one could have been in a tie for 9th, but there was something that I liked just a little bit about this one. Upon smelling it, I thought it smelled like malt vinegar, which was just strange. If a southern person would have smelled this they would have wanted to dip their fries in it or some weird shit. ‘Nuff said.
7. Cardinal Red Ale: Once again, “Bart” has sweetened things up way too much. What is up with all of the sweetness in these suckers? Potentially the strangest, most terrible red ale I’ve ever had.
6. Hefeweisen: Typically, I firmly dislike Hefeweisens, but this was surprisingly had me wanting more. After drinking, I suddenly realized that Bart was heading in the right direction. This one fit the description of a good Hefe, as it was slightly cloudy, had a slight taste of banana, very subtle bitterness, and just a slight hint of spiciness. This one could make any old German man smile.
5. Timberwolf Light: I hate to say it, but a light beer made it into the better half of this brewery’s list. Much better than most lighter beers I’ve had from micro-breweries. Very smooth, with just a hint of hoppiness with a very low alcohol content. This would be the perfect beer for the “day-drinker”.
4. Demolition I.P.A.: Almost perfect. Very bitter (probably somewhere around 80 IBU), hoppy, piney, with a hint of citrus notes. Not as good as a Two-Hearted or 60 Minute I.P.A., but getting close.
3. Sawmill Coffee Stout: HOLY SHITS! This one was truly awesome. If you enjoy stouts and coffee as much as me, well, you’re pretty much in beer heaven with this one. Extremely aromatic, and delightfully delicious. Initial taste is of vanilla and malt, with the finishing after taste of dark roasted coffee.
2. Black I.P.A.: Almost gave this one number 1, but…. it just fell short. Hands down the best black I.P.A. I’ve had and quite possibly the most potent at 8.3% ABV. The most enjoyable thing about this beer was the combination of roasty malt flavor mixed with the bitterness that I enjoy about any style of I.P.A. Saugatuck’s Black Train I.P.A. wouldn’t stand a chance against this one in a duel.
1. Scotch Ale: Winner, winner, chicken dinner! I don’t typically drink a whole lot of scotch ales, but this one really hit the spot. The sweetness and potency of this one really combined to make an excellent beer. Definitely the most complex, enjoyable beer this place has. Needless to say, if I happen to be at Bart’s on a Wednesday….. It’s growler time, baby.