Austin Brothers’ brews take over Freeland’s Mountain View Restaurant

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I had the privilege of attending a tap takeover at the Mountain View Restaurant at Apple Mountain, and it was a pleasant surprise. The Mountain View, located at 4519 N. River in Freeland, was host to a tap takeover by the Austin Brothers Beer Company, based out of Alpena.

This was the second takeover The Mountain View had done and, by all accounts, it was a success.

I had never been there before, but I found the interior of the restaurant to be both spacious and cozy at the same time. The booths are roomy but high enough to give enough privacy. The overall aesthetic of the design was simple yet elegant: dim lighting and a few fancy pillars thrown in for good measure. If I had to pick one word to describe the low-key vibe of the place, it’d be classy.

Aaron Johnson, a musician, was on hand to provide accompaniment to the festivities. I think the inclusion of music really did add a lot to the atmosphere. Johnson played a variety of covers, from Elton John (of course it was “Benny and the Jets”) to Paul Simon (“Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard”) with some Johnny Cash and Stevie Wonder thrown in for good measure. Johnson also added a really good cover of an Electric Light Orchestra song. So, OK, it was a set list seemingly aimed at a baby-boomer demographic, but it was still diverse. I am forever grateful that he didn’t try to sneak in some Ed Sheeran.

The menu offered up a decent array of food items, including gourmet lobster mac and cheese, flatbread pizzas, filet mignon and halibut. They even had a cool build-you-own-burger option, which is always convenient. Overall, there was decidedly much better fare than you’d probably find at most chain restaurants (looking at you, Bennigan’s).

I chose the always reliable “half-soup-half-sandwich” combo – a turkey sandwich and a delicacy known as “chicken noodle.” While this was pretty standard for a meal, the quality was apparent from the diced, flavorful chicken to the savory turkey. It was a good amount of food for a reasonable price. I’m not really trying to oversell this: It was good, but not great. But the service was great: prompt, friendly, and I didn’t even have to ask for water refills.

There was a selection of six beers on tap offered up by Austin Brothers. I spoke to a manager who told me that people early on in the evening were trying the Big Brownie, a brown ale with Cocoa Nibs, and that the Murcules, a New England-style IPA, was selling quick. Having never been a fan of IPAs, I tried the Woody Wheat. This was an American-style wheat that the placard described as a “mix of hefeweizen and wheat cream ale” with “hints of orange peel and gracious amounts of vanilla.” Boy, they weren’t kidding when they said “gracious” amounts of vanilla, because the scent and taste was potent, but not so much as to overwhelm the flavor, which was overall smooth and refreshing. Another popular beer was the Milk Route Stout, a balanced taste of chocolate and roasted caramel coffee, with milk sugar added during the brewing process.

Chris Lutz and Morgan Auernhammer, a couple I spoke to from Bay City, tried a flight of beer and were impressed with the quality.
“I actually really liked the Milk Route Stout. That was my favorite,” Auerkhammer said.

Lutz agreed with that sentiment.

“I liked the stout quite a bit,” Lutz said. “Pretty easy drinking.”

Auernhammer said she’d been to the Mountain View for brunch and breakfast before, but seeing the place in a different setting was nice.

“It’s a good place to have live entertainment and a tap takeover, absolutely,” Auernhammer said.

The Mountain View Restaurant is planning to have another tap takeover in February, and it’s definitely something I’d consider attending.

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