Written by Kevin and Sarah
Sarah and I often complain that this little corner of Michigan doesn’t have a brewery. Our closest Michigan brewpub is Sports in Wyandotte. It’s a pretty good place with good food but it is still over a 30 minute drive. The brewery closest to our house is actually in Toledo. Maumee Bay Brewing Company is only about a 20 minutes drive. Admittedly we have never been in love with Maumee Bay’s beer although they did have a few memorable ones like their hand-pulled cask IPA and the beer brewed by a local home-brew contest winner each year. They also used to have brick oven roasted pizza which was incredible. More importantly, they had one of the best tap rooms we’ve ever seen which included a Toledo Brewing Hall of Fame, a wall-to-wall beer can collection, vintage lit up beer-signs above the bar and bathrooms wall-papered with beer posters dating back to the 1970s. In short, what they lacked in beer they made up for in food and atmosphere.
If you paid attention to the last paragraph you might have noticed that most of it was written in the past tense. The troubles started in October when I went to MBBC to get some pizza for lunch. I was informed me that they no longer had the brick pizza oven. Worse yet, they planned on moving the Maumee Bay tap room to Mutz, their sports bar which is located in the basement of the Oliver House (the complex shared by Maumee Bay, Rockwell’s Restaurant and Mutz.) My server also told me that they would be the turning the dining area of MBBC into an expansion of the dining area of Rockwell’s (an upscale restuarant) and turning the taproom into a banquet facility. My server must have been able to tell that I was upset because she she kindly gave me a $10 off coupon, good for when the move was completed.
On the weekend after Thanksgiving, Sarah and I decided to check out the new MBBC. We had never been to Mutz so we’re not sure how it looked before, but we would imagine the same. There were two rooms: one was a small sports bar and the other was drab and cramped like (as John Nasers put it) a college bar basement. We ordered a few samples of their beer (which they brought out in what reminded us of plastic bathroom cups – a definite beer faux pas.) Sarah was excited to try a sample of thier Hazelnut Porter. While the hazelnut was prominent, it was actually a weak porter with the color, flavor and mouthfeel closer to that of a brown ale. We also sampled the Blitzen Christmas Ale which we thought was fair, although we’ve since discovered that it’s one of their most popular seasonal beers and they actually bottle it. Maybe we’ll have to give it another try next year. As far as the beer there goes, our recommendation is still to go with the Cask IPA.
Then there was the food. As pub fare goes, the food at Mutz is decent and typical of what you would find at your average sports bar. However, having been to MBBC before, you can’t help but notice that the food selection is significantly pared down. While they do still serve “pizza” it’s nowhere near the quality of the pizza they had before. When I asked about the pizza before ordering, they told me that their pizza oven hadn’t been installed yet and that they were serving “flat bread pizza.” I’m hoping that this is true and that they will eventually bring the brick oven pizza back. Sarah commented that the flat bread pizza reminded her of the rectangular cafeteria pizza they used to serve in elementary school. I don’t know if I would go that far, but it definitely needs improvement.
After dinner, we decided to walk upstairs and take a look at the old taproom to see if they had made any drastic changes. The good news is that the beer-themed room, in all its glory, remained untouched. The bad news is that room was completely vacant except for empty banquet tables, complete with place settings, and two hosts to greet people on their way to Rockwell’s. Sadly, this warm and inviting beer themed room was completely empty while the craft-beer drinkers who once occupied it were relegated to the basement. We have since been told, from other friends who have been there, not to ask in advance if you can go up to see the old tap room. They won’t let you without a host to show you around.
What’s wrong with this picture? A town the size of Toledo deserves a brewery that cares about beer and people who appreciate beer. Sadly, its seems like Maumee Bay Brewing Company has taken a step in the opposite direction. We’re not saying that we’ve written off MBBC completely. We just hope that they realize that they’ve gotten rid of the best things they had going for them.