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Deacon Don once said to me, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.” I know he wasn’t the first person to say that, but it was the first time I’d heard it. And, of course, it came immediately after I apologized to him for failing to do something I’d promised. Nice guy, that Deacon Don.
Well, the brewery crawl in Washington, D. C. last Saturday was also paved with good intentions. Instead of making it to five breweries that afternoon we made it to … one. Well, one and a half. And we finished the day at a pub that had about 150 craft beers on tap and another 300 in bottles. So that counts, right?
At least the extremely unofficial brewery crawl started the way it was planned – with a trip on the train to Bluejacket brewery in Southeast D.C. near the once again prematurely quite Nationals Park. And if there was one place to go (no, not National Park) it was Bluejacket.
First of all, the brewery had 20-something of its own beers on tap. Now, often a brewery that has a high quantity in variety is trying to make up for a low quality of the beer. To demonstrate how it works the other way, consider Franconia Brewing Co. in McKinney, Texas. It has only has three beers on its rotation – a lager, a dunkel and a hefeweizen. But if you want the best true Bavarian-style beer west of Texarkana, then Franconia is your brewery.
But Bluejacket didn’t follow the typical quality-quantity mold. Of the beers our little group of three then six beer pros sampled that afternoon, none were poorly made. Oh sure, there were some that might not have been in our flavor palate such as the sour beer for me or the rum-aged something for Matt. But even those we could tell were like every piece of cooked meat in Oklahoma – well done.
We arrived right after the 2 p.m. Tasting Tour had begun, so we had no choice but to sign up for the 3 p.m. Tour, find a seat at the bar, and prepare for the next tour by enjoying some of the brewery’s finest offerings.
For me, it was the beer called Mexican Radio – a superb tasting stout that Bluejacket describes as spiced and sweet. I could definitely taste the sweet milk chocolate and a hint of vanilla in this well-balanced imperial stout. I did not taste the Ancho chilies that the descriptor claimed it has, which was fine by me. I’ve never cared for smoked or spicy beer.
My IPA-chugging companion chose to begin with the Spectre – an American IPA that had just a hint of citrus and white wine to counterbalance the relatively mild hoppyness (46.5 IBUs) of its IPA foundation. While my friend usually prefers her hoppyness about twice that much, she was highly complementary of the Spectre.
By the time 3 p.m. rolled around, we were joined by friend Matt and three others on the Tasting Tour. Our host, tour guide, and all-around good guy, Ryan, provided the perfect combination of beer knowledge, good humor, and plenty of tastes of their beer. In total, we got to try five different concoctions from the brewery – an IPA, a Porter, a Sour, a Lager and a rum-aged Brown Ale (at least, that’s what I think it was, but after five generous tastes, who can really tell … but I know it had rum).
As previously mentioned, each beer was extremely well made. The lager was one of the best I’ve had, with a full, rounded mouth feel that reminded me of the excellent Vienna Lager from Community Beer Co. in Dallas. The porter was so good, every single person on the tour liked it – even the IPA chuckers in the crowd. The sour was a huge hit with everyone in our group who preferred that style of beer – which was one person.
An hour later, we’d seen every fermenter, cask, mash tun, barley bag, yeast lab, storage locker, and refrigerated room of this multi-level warehouse-turned-brewery. We really couldn’t have asked for any more. But Ryan was kind enough to raise the bar (get it?), and handed us a large format bottle of their Darling Buds Mosaic – a wet hop pale ale. And if you want to know what “wet hop” means, just ask. I know because I’ve been on the Bluejacket Tasting Tour.
— Eric Van Steenburg
About once or twice a year, my IPA-swilling friend and I have been known to create our own pub crawls. Typically we use public transportation to hit four to five different pubs, have a taste or two of the beers they have on tap that the other places don’t, then finish off the day with dinner out – a burger for me, of course. This coming weekend we’re taking it one step further.
Based on my early calculations, forecasting, estimating, reviewing, scheduling and some well thought out guesswork, the plan for this coming Saturday afternoon is the following:
First, take the Metro from our Dupont Circle area lodging to Bluejacket brewery located in southeast Washington between the Navy Yard and the now empty until next baseball season Nationals Park. Bluejacket has free tours at the bottom of the hour starting at 10:30 a.m. But our goal is to get in on the 2 p.m. tasting tour (there is a $29 fee per person) that has a behind-the-scenes view of the brewery and five tasting pours, including one from a barrel. How could we pass up that?
Next it’s back on the Metro to head north toward 3 Stars Brewing Co., which is just a few blocks from our train stop. I’ve got my eyes on three of their brews – the Southern Belle brown ale, the Winter Madness winter warmer, and the Pandemic Porter, an American Imperial porter. I’m pretty confident that in the future the Pandemic Porter will be the mandatory preventative to curb the spread of Ebola.
From there we walk a little over a mile to Chocolate City Beer, where I will tell them the importance of updating one’s website. While the brewers and/or webmaster at Chocolate City are saying on their site that they’re ready for spring, the rest of us are pulling out our long-johns because we know cooler Fall and Winter is what’s up next. And because the website needs a refresh, here’s hoping the beer offering this weekend has also been updated. Check back next week and I’ll let you know.
Another 30 minute walk should land us at Atlas Brew Works, where I will congratulate them on having a great social media presence, but explain the importance of having at list of all the beers they make on their website. So what we’ll be tasting is a mystery. However, the brewery is open until 8 p.m., so if we start running behind, we’ll make this our last stop and simply switch the order with …
DC Brau Brewing Company. The reality is the last three are all within about a mile and a half of each other — walkable for us, or an easy cab ride if necessary. I am sure my hoppy half’s eyes will light up when she sees On the Wings of Armageddon, an Imperial IPA that the brewers claim has an “intense hop character.” For me, the Penn Quarter Porter looks to be up my alley, though I’m willing to take a chance on the mystery beer that is the current “on-tap draft-only release.” And speaking of alley, DC Brau makes a point of mention on its website that the brewery is it located behind the post office and “you will need to go down the alley and turn right.” Roger.
After that, it’s a manageable walk and then another train ride back to our Dupont Circle headquarters for either dinner or a place to quietly pass out.
So if you’d like to join us on our pilgrimage this Saturday, drop me a line and we’ll make it an “all-play.”
— Eric Van Steenburg
My mom is a burger Luddite. Well, sort of. That doesn’t mean she prefers to eat burgers by candlelight. That would make her burger Amish.
No, she’s more Luddite. You know, that leaderless movement of passive resistance to consumerism and the increasingly bizarre and frightening technologies of the Computer Age. At least that’s what their manifesto says they are.
Yes, mom wants her burgers plain and simple. Basically, meat and bun. I’m not even sure if she goes for the L-TOP, my shorthand for lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle. Though the last time we had a burger together – which is, of course, the most special of mother-son bonding moments – I think she went LT-O, as in lettuce, tomato only. And definitely no cheese. Cheese is right out.
What to put on your burger might be one of the only things my mom and I don’t just naturally agree on. After all, great minds do think alike.
But when it comes to enjoying a burger, I’ve learned to trust the chef, no matter what they plan to put between the buns. (Pause here as some might want to enjoy a “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles” flashback to “Those aren’t pillows!”)
Case in point: I’ve corrupted my partner in crime so much that she craves a good burger about once a month. Comparatively, my burger requirements are typically one every two weeks, so she’s not quite at my level … yet. In terms of being a burger aficionado, let’s say she’s a burger yellow belt.
So when we went to Jack Brown’s – a burger joint in Harrisonburg that is well-known up and down Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley – she told the watron that she wanted the day’s special, The Greg Brady burger, which comes with mac ‘n’ cheese and potato chips on top. But, she wanted (gasp!) the chips on the side. Being a burger black belt, I, of course, knew to trust the burger chef and ordered mine with the chips on top.
Two minutes after the burgers arrived, she tasted mine and realized the error of her ways. I immediately gave her a field promotion. She’s now a burger brown belt.
Now, some restaurants try to put too many things on top of their burgers. These are simply efforts to try to “trick up” the burger, and are usually just a ploy by a chain restaurant to make a tasteless burger taste better. A real burger joint – not a chain restaurant – doesn’t need to trick up its burgers. They’re simply making delicious burger concoctions.
To put it another way, efforts to trick up a burger are akin to what today’s college football teams are doing to their uniforms. Just because you “candie up” your uniform – to quote my friend Gaylon as he channels his inner Darryl Royal, the legendary Texas football coach – doesn’t make you a better team, nor a better university. You can’t buy class.
So the chain restaurants found in Generica with their “Double Wheezy Fresh and Cheesy” burger don’t cut it. You’ve got to go to a real burger joint, order a real burger, and eat it however it’s prepared. I’ll say it again – always trust a burger chef.
Here’s another example. Both Jack Brown’s and Local Chop & Grill House – the excellent restaurant and bar that is literally (and unlike most people under the age of 20 I’m using that word correctly) 210 feet from our front door – have burgers dedicated to those who like their mouth lit up like an Aggie bonfire. (For those of you who don’t know, the Aggie bonfire is a pile of logs about 12 stories high that would be torched the week Texas A&M played Texas in football.) In other words, the burgers are a bit on the spicy hot side. But both have drastically different ingredients.
Local Chop has the Inferno Burger, for which you get to choose ground chuck or bison that will be topped with habanero pickle relish, cheddar cheese, cayenne bacon, and chipotle remoulade. Cayenne bacon? I don’t know whether to say “yikes!” or “yum!”
Jack Brown’s has the Shocker, ground beef topped with fresh jalapenos, fresh habaneros, pepper jack cheese, and shocker sauce, a closely held secret in-house creation that is guaranteed to set your mouth (and later your pants) on fire.
I’ve had them both. Each is outstanding. And even though the toppings are different, the results are the same – an enjoyable, delicious burger that makes you appreciate that God had a sense of humor when she gave us edible things like habaneros. These burgers were so spicy, this transplanted Texan loses 5 pounds in sweat each time I have one. Each is so hot that my friend Melanie, who drinks the hottest sauces in the world like the rest of us drink water, might even release a bead of sweat. But they’re also so delicious, it’s worth it. And hey, it’s better than going to the gym, right?
Most importantly, they taste great because the burger chef knew what he was doing. He picked the ingredients that he knew would taste great together, and cooked the burger with that in mind.
And my point is, that’s what we all need to keep in mind. Whether you’re a purist or an adventurer, always trust the burger chef.
— Eric Van Steenburg
CODA: My hot sauce slurping friend Melanie has a great blog on wine. If you’re into that sort of thing, check her out at DallasWineChick.com.
CODA CODA: Thanks to Lisa at Jack Brown’s for the burger photos.
The challenge: Cover a beer festival for your beer blog without drinking any beer. Wasn’t that one of the Labors of Hercules?
If not, it could have been. For I have sniffed the hop … seen the foam … stared down the barrel of the beer … and emerged sober. Thank you.
Unfortunately, an old back injury has curtailed my beer drinking for the moment. Oh, codeine, thou art a heartless bitch. Unless, of course, you’re my brother, who strongly recommends consuming alcohol while on codeine for that “extra kick.” To each his own, I guess.
For me, it was better safe than sorry. So off to the Rocktown Beer & Music Festival I went last Saturday, knowing there would be no tasting in my future. Still, I had my designated drinker alongside, and she’s always game for trying a pint or three.
No pints at this Festival, though. Instead it was miniature plastic beer mugs that the volunteers were more than hoppy to fill to the top. That easily made up for the fact that the $35 entry ticket only got you 12 tastes. But each tiny mug looked to be about 4 ounces. So that meant three pints of delicious, high ABV, craft beer for each Fest-goer.
Based on the crowd’s actions by the end of the festival, it seems a few people might have found a way to extend their 12 tastes a little longer. And that’s one of the benefits of attending a beer festival and not drinking any beer – crowd watching.
In fact, enjoying the antics of the attendees was as much fun as tasting all the delicious beer. I lie. But it was still fun. And I got to mix and mingle with lots of cool people.
There were former students Allyson and Katie. There were current students Alexa and Nikki. There were colleagues (all from Management, hmm) Brad, Bill and Eric in attendance, the latter two clearly having a good time throwing French fries at unsuspecting festvalees despite their lack of aim. And there were cool bands.
As I predicted, Start Making Sense, the Talking Heads tribute band, stole the show. Not only did they sound close to perfect, the lead singer even worked hard mimicking David Byrne. The crowd loved it.
Of course, by that time, the festival was winding down and everyone had had their fill, and then some. My IPA-swilling friend, for example, got to taste her 12 samples, and made a pretty good dent in my pristine quota. And it was obvious D.J. and Tyler had found a way to flex their muscle to get a few extras here and there, and there, and there, and there.
As for me, I had a blast. And that’s what makes the burgeoning U.S. craft beer scene so freakin’ great. You don’t even have to be a craft beer drinker to experience the joy of what it means to finally have great beer in this country. And that joy is contagious.
Fortunately, the reason of my codeine dependence is not. So in a few weeks, I’ll be squeaky clean and ready to jump back on the wagon, uh, off the wagon … um, DRINK BEER.
– Eric Van Steenburg
We are officially less than 48 hours away from the first ever Fall version of the Rocktown Beer & Music Festival, happening this Saturday, Sept. 20 in Harrisonburg, Va. But if you haven’t gotten your tickets yet, you’d better hurry because sales end at 11:30 p.m. on Friday.
Typically a Spring event, this year organizers decided to put on a Fall edition of the Beer & Music Festival. And who can blame them? With more than 3,000 craft beer fans descending on downtown Harrisonburg each year, it wasn’t really a question of whether there should be a second one each year, but when it would finally happen.
Well, this is the year. Already, 32 breweries have registered to share their crafty concoctions with grateful attendees. You’ll be able to sample beers from Three Notch’d to Three Brothers, from Bold Rock to Stone Brewing, and from Blue Mountain to Starr Hill to Anderson Valley.
Tickets are $35.84 when you add in the service fee. Designated drivers and those underage can get in for $23.54.
In addition to the great beer, you can enjoy music from Nikki Lane and Carl Anderson. Personally, I’ll be waiting for the Talking Heads tribute band “Stop Making Sense” to take the stage.
Bring a lawn chair, some pretzels to nibble on, and a good attitude. If the lines start to get long, you’ll likely need all three.
— Eric Van Steenburg
With apologies to all the woodchucks who regularly read Beer-and-Burgers.com, today’s question is:
How many IPAs does an IPA drinker drink
if an IPA drinker dare drink IPAs?
And the answer appears to be 24, because that how many IPAs were served up at the Virginia IPA Challenge last Saturday at Capital Ale House in Harrisonburg, Va.
It was originally going to be 28 IPAs, but apparently IPA drinkers can’t chuck that many. Besides, if my designated drinker is any evidence, 24 IPAs was enough to taste.
The way Cap Ale had the contest orchestrated was cool. Each IPA chucker who wanted to get in on the tasting paid $10 for a card that had numbers 1-24 in a column on the left side. Next to each number was a line for drinkers to write any comments they wanted to make about each different beer, and presumably to help them remember what they’d tasted as the day wore on. To the right of each line was a place to rate the beer from 1-5 stars. And finally, at the far right was a box to mark off so each drinker, and more importantly our heroic bartenders, could keep track of which IPAs each person had already tried.
Participants got to sample four beers every time they went to the bar, which meant six trips to the bar. Each small taste – and thankfully that’s all they were, small tastes – was poured in a small plastic cup with a number on the front. So no one knew which brewer had entered which beer. Even representatives from the breweries in attendance didn’t know which numbers were theirs.
As I mentioned, I had a designated drinker with me. That’s because, as many of you know, I prefer the more malty side of the beer spectrum. Or, as my IPA swilling friend told someone after trip number five to the bar, “he perfers ports and stouters.” Uh, that would be stouts and porters.
More and more people showed up as the day went along. The lines got long, but seemed to move at a reasonable clip – at least from my vantage point at a table in the back where I sipped on an Ellie’s Brown Ale from Avery, and later a Lagunitas Cappuccino Stout. And when the lines got really long, people didn’t complain too much because by then they’d already made 3-4 trips to the bar. There’s nothing like downing two dozen IPAs to make people hoppy.
Oh, and after tasting 24 IPAs, each chucker placed their vote for best Virginia IPA and then got a full pint of their favorite. Not a bad dessert.
Once the first keg was kicked, the tasting stopped and the bartenders (did I mention they were heroic), tallied up the votes. The winners were announced Monday and are:
- First place – Tall, Dark and Hopsom, a double black IPA by Isley Brewing Company (Richmond)
- Second place – The Admiral, an Imperial IPA from Three Brothers Brewing (Harrisonburg)
- Third place – Raucous Honey a double IPA by Three Notch’d Brewing Co. (Charolettesville)
I can’t contributed to the discussion on differences and qualities of the IPAs since I was enjoying my ports and stouters, but my designated drinker wrote down that Isley’s beer was “coffee,” that Three Brothers’ was “creamy” and the Three Notch’d was “yum.” So there’s the expert’s opinion.
Regardless of your beer style preference, the Virginia IPA Challenge was a blast. Shout out to D.J. at Cap Ale House for picking the excellent beers, and his fellow bartenders upstairs for working hard to make the lines move fast and keeping everyone hoppy. And a special shout out to Denise who worked the downstairs bar by herself early in the day as the IPA crowd was starting to swell, and for keeping everybody happy.
Of course, now I’m expecting a Winter and Christmas Virginia beer challenge in December. How’s that sound, D.J.?
— Eric Van Steenburg
All you hoppy beer lovers out there — the ones I lovingly refer to as grass-drinkers — be aware that Capital Ale House in Harrisonburg, Va., is hosting its third annual Virginia IPA Challenge on Saturday, Sept. 6 starting at noon. This event allows the everyday craft beer lover to weigh in with their opinion on Virginia IPAs.
The cost to participate is just $10, and your entry fee allows you to sample IPAs from 28 different craft breweries, or until the keg is kicked, and then get a final pint full of your favorite when you’re done. That should do ya’.
The competition ends when that first keg is empty, so be there early enough to get a taste of all the breweries in the event. Plus you can hob-knob with the brewers as they hover over their beers and try to earn your vote — kind of like a politician but with an IBU kick.
So for those of you who like your beer well-hopped and well-made, get over to Cap Ale House this Saturday for the IPA Challenge.
— Eric Van Steenburg
High-fived a guy wearing a t-shirt with the University of Texas (my alma mater) Longhorn logo on the front. Traded Big D stories with a young JAG officer who was originally from Dallas (my adopted hometown). Learned when Jack Wilshere is going to get his act together from a fellow Gooner wearing his Arsenal FC (my favorite team) game jersey. And while any of these could have easily been the highlight of a typical day, this was not a typical day.
This was the Virginia Craft Brewers Fest, and we were there to discover, sample, and recognize the best the state has to offer in craft beer. More than 40 breweries submitted 222 different beers into the competition vying for gold, silver and bronze medals in 14 categories.
I would be remiss if I failed to mention that Three Brothers Brewing Co., the craft brewery in my new hometown of Harrisonburg, won gold in the Imperial IPA category for their tasty delight named The Admiral.
Interesting thing about The Admiral. While the Beer Goddess and I are on opposite sides of the beer continuum, or beertinuum, from one another, we each have a completely different response to The Admiral. She’s all about hop bite, and wants her IPAs to pinch her in the back of the throat. I, on the other hand, am malty and sweet (as my siblings would attest) and prefer a full mouth feel of velvety goodness.
Where we do agree is that The Admiral does the latter more than the former, which makes it possibly the only IPA that I can drink. Perhaps it’s so much IPA that it comes back around full circle to something my palate finds delicious. You know, sort of how Paris Hilton is so skanky she’s kinda hot.
So we must salute The Admiral, and Three Brothers, for winning what this beer purist believes is the pinnacle category of craft beer.
Of course, with so many beers to sample, we decided to divide and conquer – the Beer Goddess focusing on IPAs and me focusing on Porters and Stouts. I know, big sacrifice for both of us, right? And while the Brewers Fest handed out their own awards – sure seemed like there was some hometown scoring going on – here were the best in our book:
The Hoppy Award Winners
- Gold — Hoptopus Double IPA (Beach Brewing Co.) — My IPA swilling friend says this year-round offering is the perfect IPA in that it’s heavy on the hops (108 IBUs) and full of flavor. I’ll take her word for it.
- Silver — King of Hop Imperial IPA (Starr Hill) — The everyday IPA by this brewer is not one that the IPA drinkers I know particularly care for. So it was with some hesitancy that my designated IPA taster tried this brew. Boy was she surprised. A nice citrus flavor helped balance this hoppy offering. If the King of Hop was easily found, it could be the everyday IPA in our household.
- Bronze — Bucktooth IPA (Rusty Beaver Brewery) — I’m told this one was clearly made with love. I guess I have no choice but to believe that. The Goddess says it has lots of flower in the nose and a big hop bite in the finish.
- Honorable Mention — Expedition IPA (Adventure Brewing Co.) — Sometimes it’s hard to pick just three. Therefore the Expedition IPA gets Bronze 1A for being a mellow, but quality IPA. Notes of white wine in the taste.
The Malty Award Winners
- Gold — Wicked Nymph Imperial Stout (Adventure Brewing Co.) – Holy crap this was a great beer. Smooth with extremely slight hints of chocolate but with a wild stout kick. I know why they chose to put “wicked” in the name.
- Silver — Pumpkin Ale (Aleworks Brewing Co.) – I love the fall season when we move away from the summer ales and start getting more bocks, Oktoberfests, and pumpkin flavored beers. This Pumpkin Ale was a great start with enough ale attitude that tamped down any chance to have the pumpkin flavor overpower the maltiness of the beer. It was like pumpkin pie in a glass.
- Bronze — Gingerbread Stout (Hardywood Park) – Yum yum yum yum yum. An excellent balance of gingerbread and boldness from the imperial stout brewing process. Lots of spice flavors in the mouth including cinnamon and ginger. It’s beginning to taste a lot like Christmas.
- Honorable Mention — Virginia Vulgarian Bourbon Bock (Strangeways Brewing) – As those of you who have read my blog before know, I’m usually reluctant to recommend the rum and bourbon flavored beers. But this Virginia Vulgarian Bourbon Bock was an eye-opener. It was malty in the front of the mouth, and then had a delayed liquor kick at the end. Everyone who tried it could only say “Wow.” And at only 6.6 ABV, I think I’ll have another.
After a great day of tasting quality beer, the Beer Goddess and I took off for home, stopping along the way at Blue Mountain Brewery for a final pint and a bite. It was here that I was able to drop a little water on my burger drought with the brewpub’s special, the aptly named Hangover Burger.
This tasty concoction featured an almost-properly cooked burger (it was closer to medium than medium rare) with the usual lettuce, onion, and tomato. But this burger special came with a fried egg (over easy) and bacon on top. And while it might not sound terribly appetizing, and it certainly wasn’t a photogenic meal because I tried several times, it was yum to the yumth degree.
So here’s to the best of Virginia Craft Brewers, along with a special salute to The Admiral, as well as a tip of the hat to the best burger I’ve had in months. You all have plenty of reasons to be proud.
— Eric Van Steenburg
Just like most of the Western U.S., I’m in a drought. It’s not water that I’m missing, though, it’s the void of a really great burger that I’m feeling. I can’t remember the last time I had a delicious mound of ground round that was perfectly pink and placed between bountiful bread.
OK, that was a lot of alliteration from an anxious author. But see what a dearth of burger goodness does to someone?
I tried to solve my burger drought by flying to … wait for it … California. That’s right. I spent last weekend in San Francisco searching for a great burger. Well, it was actually a business trip. But who says one can’t be part of the other.
The initial attempt came the first night I was there when I was joined at Thirsty Bear Brewing Company by friends Iman Naderi and Bob Fabrize. After a pint of the house beers – the Kozlov Stout for me and the Howard Street IPA for them – we each ordered the thirstyburger. I was diligent in pointing out to the waitron that mine should be put on the grill last since I ordered medium-rare, while my colleagues chose medium and medium-well. No burnt food for me, please.
According to the menu, the thirstyburger was 100 percent grass-feed beef topped with hook’s five-year cheddar and a special garlic-tomato sauce as well as a garlic aioli. Mmm, garlic. Sounded promising.
When mine showed up, the thick chunk of meat was closer to medium than medium-rare (probably was still cooking after it came off the grill, but a good cook should account for that). The burger overall was piled high with the standard lettuce-tomato-pickle toppings, while the brioche bread buns made it even taller. Looked promising.
But as I worked my way through the mountain of a meal, I was not overwhelmed. The fact that the burger was cooked more than it should be was definitely a factor that negatively affected the taste. The double shot of garlic didn’t give it the bite I think it should have. And while the French bread was quite good, it made the filling in between almost disappear. I eventually removed the top half and just ate the burger with the bottom piece.
If the meat had been a little bloodier, the garlic a little stronger, and the bread a little thinner, this would have been a great burger. Instead, it was B– effort. The stout, with some hints of roasted coffee and unsweetened chocolate, got a slightly higher grade of B.
The burger drought extended the rest of the weekend as pizza and Persian were the dining choices made by my colleagues the next two nights. That was followed by an airport food lunch and an airplane food dinner. It seems I’m not lacking for air travel cuisine.
Returning to the ‘Burg I attempted to remedy the situation by trying a restaurant on Thursday that my roommate insists makes good burgers. So off to Union Station we went, quickly finding a seat at the bar. Things started well when I tasted, and then ordered a pint, of the Jeffersons Reserve Bourbon Barrel Stout made by Bluegrass Brewing Company. Too often, the bourbon and rum barrel aged beers are overpowered by the bourbon and rum. Hey, if I want liquor, I’d order liquor. When I order beer, I want beer. And this stout was definitely the latter. The full-bodied, dark dark beer had a mocha coffee flavor that balanced nicely with the bourbon to create a smooth, partakeable brew.
The burger, on the other hand, was a no-frills slab of meat covered with cheddar cheese and some onions (which I had to order as “extra” and became the most flavorful part of the experience). In spite of asking for it to be cooked medium rare, it came out medium-well. Certainly not a memorable burger. That said, I will go back to Union Station to try a burger off the full menu because the place has almost half a dozen from which to choose.
Thinking back, now, I believe the last great burger I had was at Jack Brown’s in Harrisonburg sometime in March when we slogged our way through mountains of snow. Perhaps that’s the key – make the quest a challenging one and the result is a better burger. If that’s the case, then I’d love to be in Hawaii right now.
— Eric Van Steenburg
This entry was posted in Burger related.