February’s Foodie File is with Aaron Hagen, owner of the Bridge Street Taproom in Charlevoix and this Q&A was originally published in the February 2015 issue of Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine.
Charlevoix native son Aaron Hagen came up through kitchens and dining rooms doing everything from flipping burgers to popping high-dollar Bordeaux before partnering with friends Phil Parr and Adam Engelman to launch The Bridge Street Taproom last June. Over a flight of stouts and a monstrous mac-and-cheese sandwich, we talk the virtues of pub grub, the North’s next brewery, and feeding your friends.
What’s driving the food at Bridge Street Taproom?
We really set out to design a menu of comfort foods that pull on theheartstrings, built from simple, fresh ingredients that go well with beer. We get great bacon from Plath’s in Petoskey, smoked brisket from Ebels [Falmouth, Michigan] and make our sauces and soups from scratch every day. Our braised pork belly with pickled onions and porter gastrique and the grilled mac-and-cheese sandwich have emerged as the signature favorites.
Now that the taproom is rockin’, we hear there’s a phase two in the works?
We were just down touring Psycho Brewing in Belding to look at Michigan-made brewing equipment. By next summer we hope to launch a sustainable brewery in the building next door that houses the Beaver Island Boat Company.
Any cooking tips for a winter B.Y.O.B. beer party?
Buy some pre-baked naan bread from the grocery store, make a little fresh tomato sauce from scratch, and set out a smorgasbord of toppings like different sliced sausages, fresh vegetables, olives and cheeses and let everyone build their own pizzas. I like to crank the oven to 500 degrees and bake them for three or four minutes. Put everyone in charge of a growler or six pack, and this makes for a great winter evening with friends.