Our First Time

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It was a nice October Saturday when we paid a visit to the old church with the big apple on the sign.

It was our first time at Texas Corners Brewing Co. I know — we, the TCBC bloggers, have never been there until Oct. 2021? Well, come join us on our voyage of discovery…

The outside dining patio was packed, so we sampled some brews as we waited for a table.

I expected good things. But I was thinking, can hard cider be something more than just apple juice with a kick? I’m not into craft beer, so when I go with friends to the local brewpubs, I get other options. And that’s usually cider. I’ve honestly been disappointed by Kalamazoo brewpub’s cider products. Think unpasteurized cider that’s been fermenting in the back of the refrigerator, or juicebox with added alcohol.

And my wife muttered that she was really hoping for a gin and tonic for the evening.

Our friends, a couple, joined us — she’s a craft beer fan, and went straight to the P-51 Porter, declaring the dark brew, “Good!” Her boyfriend, well, he’ll drink anything. He was happy with the Cranberry Hard Seltzer.

Wife got the Blueberry Hard Cider and stopped wishing that we were at a full bar. I love a good bourbon or rye, so I got the BBA (bourbon barrel-aged) Cherry Hard Cider. The Fruitridge Farm’s apples, Michigan cherries, blended and brewed then aged for a few months in Kentucky bourbon barrels — I thought honestly, this is either trying too hard or….

Wow. That’s good. That’s not Big Kalamazoo Brewpub’s basic cider. It’s complex, smooth, something adult. I had to have two for the evening. At a 9% ABV, it’s a good thing I wasn’t driving. It’s a good thing we were also getting dinner.

To be honest, I was so wrapped up in my bison burger that I didn’t notice what the others were eating. Lean meat selected from a regional bison farm, topped with bacon for a bit of decadence, served with hand-cut fries — who serves actual hand-cut fries anymore?

Our server had warned us that it’ll take time for our food to arrive. They’ve got the same staffing troubles that every other establishment has. That’s okay. It gave me more time with my BBA.

As night fell, I noticed owner/operator Andrew Schultz here, there, everywhere, lending a hand. I finally stopped him to say this was the best hard cider I’ve ever had. And the bison, where’s it from?

TCBC is farm-to-table and does its best to get local food on one’s plate. But they had to go to Indiana for the bison — Fruitridge Farms ran its own bison operation but ended recently to focus more on the fruits and vegetables it’s grown since 1951, he says.

In 1951 his grandpa, who’d helped win WWII flying the P-51 Mustang (which their porter is named after), and his grandma, who was from a long-time farming family, started the family farm out in Mattawan.

The roots of those apple trees, led directly to our dining experience that October night. That’ll be a topic for another post.