A gluten-free gal on the hunt for a “girl dinner” can’t do much better than Mason’s BAD Brewing Co. The brewpub is just a leisurely 20-minute drive down Cedar Street (watch out for deer), and the gentle entrance into downtown Mason never fails to charm. A trip to BAD isn’t like stepping back in time — more like stepping to the side of it, just for a few hours.
I would describe the vibe of this establishment as quirky, creative and consistently tasty. It recently hosted a coat drive and ancient-Greece-themed wine release party, to which I say: no notes. You are flawless.
I have since been anxious to try BAD’s new wines, so over the weekend, I took my seat at the bar for a burger and tots with a glass of the Sparkling Blackberry Honey vino. The stemless glasses were an important touch. They made my drinking experience feel relaxed amid my fellow patrons, who palmed ceramic mugs from the Mug Club.
At first sip, the blackberry wine was effervescent. The bartender described it as “kind of a sour, farmhouse-ale flavor,” but I wouldn’t say it was too sour. Just a hint of honey rounded out any tartness. It had the sparkle of an ice-cold champagne, and the color wowed with a red-orange autumnal hue, like what you might imagine brewing atop a witch’s stove in October.
The wine had aromas of perfectly sun-ripened blackberries, picked at the start of September. Not overly complex, it tasted natural — even unadorned — but the sparkle gave it an edge. I wouldn’t call this fruit-flavored wine “fruity.” It tasted like what you’d want from a mead: fermented without being syrupy. It was easily sipped, and as the moderate middle child of BAD’s new trio of white, fruit and red wines, I found that it went right down and paired nicely with my meal.
If I’d had a designated driver, I may have deigned to try all three options. But at 12% ABV — and with the aforementioned deer lurking in the berm — I decided to cap it at one, with the intention to return to try both the Sparkling Riesling and the Red Blend.
As for the rest of my meal, BAD’s lightweight gluten-free burger bun tasted like it could have been made from rice flour. Most importantly, it didn’t crumble. The flattened beef patty with a choice of cheese was accented by pungent red onion and tasted buttery, not greasy. It was a perfect bar burger, served with enough crispy tots to make me think about a box before deciding to push through. With friendly staff and regulars, a fun menu and creative community contributions, BAD Brewing continues to serve up one great evening after another, now with a promising new lineup of libations.
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