- Animula, vagula, blandula
- Hospes comesque corporis
- Quae nunc abibis in loca
- Pallidula, rigida, nudula,
- Nec, ut soles, dabis iocos . . .
- – Emperor Hadrian on his dying bed
Burger at Dryhop Brewers
- Pickled sweet onions
- Aged raw milk cheddar cheese
- Broadbent’s hickory smoked bacon (added by me)
- Brisket and short rib beef patty
- Ancho chile-tomato jam
- Served with Belgian frites – beef fat fried fries seasoned with hops salt
- Side of garlic parmesan aioli
- Side of dragon hot sauce
More than impressed by the Metal Beers & Burgers initiative, especially after sampling my fair share of Dryhop Brewers‘ fantastic alcoholic creations (namely: Reverse Thunder and Death Rides a Horse) at both Kuma’s Corner and Kuma’s Too, it was time to pay the Lakeview East district brewery a much needed visit! And so I did on the very first pleasant day we had this winter.
The sky was clear, the sun was shining, people were jogging and strolling about and around in shorts in the 55 degree weather.. Ah, Chicago! After carefully maneuvering the giant puddles of melting snow and black ice I was finally at my destination at 11:00 am sharp. I was welcomed in a modern, but cozy combination of exposed, open bricks, wooden tables, black chairs and all the shiny metal of the brewery’s innards. Once seated I immediately knew what I wanted, for what better way to start the day if not with a flight of beers for brunch!?
At only $12 for what is essentially 2 pints and 1/2 of various craft beers, Dryhop Brewers’ Flight of Beers is like a hopped up carousel of constantly rotating brews packed with value. The ability to sample a wide variety of beers with almost every visit, especially when poured directly from source is outstanding and a sneaky way of ensuring that you’ll be a returning customer. Mentioned below are my own notes on the subject, starting with from the top and going clockwise. Keep in mind that I’m a hobbyist at best and I’m still new at this. I don’t possess the palate of the Gods nor am I a hophound. 🙂
- Shark Meets Hipster American Wheat IPA [6.0% ABV] – Somewhat of a poster boy of the brewery, Shark Meets Hipster is the IPA recommended by most and I was definitely interested to see this “staple” on thelist of beers for the day. Pleasant dark amber, almost honey-like color with a thin head with noticeable retention. This is definitely a dry hopped creation, representing the citrus and passion fruit profile of its Galaxy Hops which are obvious in both the nose and the taste of this beer. Extremely refreshing, with a variety of subtle, fruity hints corresponding with its color (apricots, maybe grapefruit), with a definitely bitter start and finish. For an IPA, Shark Meets Hipster seemed to be a very well balanced beer with equal amount of hops and malts and overall I’d say that it is not only a great beer, but an even greater stepping stone for those attempting to train their palate as the Galaxy Hops are very well pronounced here. Compares incredibly well with the famous Three Floyds’ Gumballhead American Pale Wheat Ale [5.60% ABV], whose Amarillo Hops provide a slightly more citrus and earthiness to the flavor at the price of less of a “bite” at the end. This is the beer that I ended up ordering as a 16oz.-er to pair with The Burger.
- 91 American Pale Ale [5.5% ABV] – A great threeway between Red-X malts, Amarillo and Mosaic Hops, resulting in a very balanced, enjoyable blend of malt sweetness and citrus-laced hoppiness. Dark brown coloration, reminiscent of maple syrup. Balanced is the keyword here, especially in the flavor – the citrus notes from the hops are not as pronounced and mix well with the woody, almost roasted chestnut-like hints in the body of this APA. This is a nice way to transition from your first couple of hop-infused beers to something heavier or maltier, like a Belgian-style ale or even a glass of whiskey from Dryhops Brewers’ long list of libations.
- Fading Bliss Belgian Dubbel [7.0% ABV] – This amazing dubbel was released for St. Valentine’s Day and was easily my favorite from the bunch and comes in the beautiful, muddled brown and orange of dark amber, clouded by yeast and devoid of carbonation. There is something romantic about the sophisticated, bready warmth of Fading Bliss. Dark candy sugar, cloves and the strong hint and assorted dark fruits such as figs and plums eventually combine with the 7.00% ABV and create a very relaxing, warming sensation and it’s not hard at all to imagine enjoying this by the fireplace. The sweet, malty presence is everywhere, but does not overpower. Overall, an amazing creation. I’ll be sad when it is gone.
Death Rides a Horse Russian Imperial Stout [8.0% ABV] – Named after one of the most famous Russian Circles songs. Created in collaboration with Dryhop Brewers brewery and kitchen and the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild as the second wave of a three month long celebration called Metal Beers & Burgers, where burgers and beers are released monthly as a carefully crafted pairing. Pours a dark black with a light hint of brown with little to no head whatsoever. Both nose and taste meet an amazing balancing act of espresso and chocolate from start to finish without any lingering bitterness remaining from the coffee or its hop characteristic.The body of the beer is light and smooth even for a stout and not syrupy at all, and all of these components hide the “burn” of the 8.0% ABV extremely well with the first hints of alcohol only noticeable as the beer goes down the throat for a very pleasant, warm and “spicy” feeling. This could be my stout of choice until the day I die, but you know… it’s limited. Ended up going home with a growler full of the stuff, mainly to share with some of my friends.
- Bee-Side Vanilla Honey Milk Stout [5.5% ABV] – Some beers meet the expectations and some beers fail to meet the expectations… but some beers manage to do both at the same time. Brewed just once with the collaboration and for the commemoration of the BreakRoom Brewery, Bee-Side was initially the beer that I wanted to try the most and I came with my own, high expectations, anticiapting a very sweet, thick stout chock-full of the advertised honey and whole vanilla beans. What I got, however, was different. First and foremost, I failed to understand that Bee-Side was going to be primarily a stout and stouts, will.. well… stouts will be stouts. Bee-Side had a creamy, dark flavor with a fluffy nitro crown and a medium espresso-enriched body with well-balanced bitterness. None of the sweetness I had been craving for. Both the honey and vanilla were definitely in there, though. The vanilla beans are almost entirely in the nose and the warm honey gave Bee-Side a soft, flavorful finish which I actually enjoyed quite a bit. Definitely a surprise there, but that was my own fault. For what it is – a mild, sessionable milk stout. Not a small success there!
- Snuffleupagus Is Not a Muppet India Pale Saison/Farmhouse Ale [5.5% ABV] – A collaboration with the Haymarket Pub & Brewery, Snuffleupagus Is Not a Muppet was brewed with Gallaxy and Mosaic hops and its “evil twin” , Snuffleupagus Is a Muppet, was brewed with Amarillo and Centennial Hops, as part of a hilarious debate between brewers. Personally? I’m willing to side with the nay-sayers, even though I have yet to have the Haymarket equivalent of this beer. This “critter” beer features a hazy, straw yellow color reminiscent of the color of stereotypical champagne, and has a light, “skunky” aroma paired with lazy carbonation. The notes of citrus and passion fruit, as well as the entirety of the taste come pouring in all at once after the body of the beer. Very refreshing, full of pleasant hoppinness without bitterness and a great palate cleanser. If I hadn’t known, I’d label this as a Wheat IPA, maybe even for a Belgian ale. Third most favorite beer of the bunch.
After the round AND the buzz of beer, I order a Shark Meets Hipster and it was time to try the food.
Enter The Burger!
Before I could even begin to spazz over all the ingredients, take picture and eventually enjoy the taste of The Burger I was impressed by the smell of it. Perhaps “smitten” is a better word, though. In fact, I was able to smell the amazing promise of glorious feasting to be had from two tables away, with brisket and short rib beef patty just radiating a fantastic blend of two unmistakable aromas – that of BBQ ribs and that of pleasantly seared beef. At once. (Also, I’m not mentioning the fact that the scent of hickory smoked bacon was also entwined in there, just to spare you the envy..)
Sure, it wasn’t the largest patty, but in my book The Burger was already a winner before it even hit the table. Another quality that I was delighted to notice was the freshness of the ingredients. It’s always easy to notice and reflect on the negative aspects of food that is not the freshest, but as soon as I lifted the top bun of The Burger I immediately squee’d. The handful of arugula on my plate looked like it was picked from a garden specifically for my burger. The Belgian frites accompanying the meat were clearly just cut and prepared from fresh potatoes. Alison, the kind waitress who made me company while things were slow, was very helpful and suggest her preferred method of devouring The Burger by pouring the dragon sauce which came with the fries ON the burger, then following up with the garlic parmesan aioli. I chose to go with just the hot dragon sauce as The Burger seemed already complex enough and I didn’t want to mask the flavor of all the other top notch ingredients. Besides, I wanted to dip my fries in something. First thing I noticed with the first bite (and the second, and the third.. and so on!) was the clean, crisp crunch of the tender arugula. Seriously, why is this thing not on every burger ever? And because I’m a nerd, let me share with you the fact that while enjoying the arugula, its very name reminded me of a poem shared with me by a professor of Latin some 5 o r 6 years ago. It’s the one at the beginning of this article and you may choose your own translation. Anyway.. The clean flavor of the leafy green was then enriched with that of stringy pickled sweet onions, adding to the acidity of thin, melted creamy aged raw milk cheddar cheese. My own addition of Broadbent’s hickory smoked bacon was a) logical; b) mandatory, and I really enjoyed that as well. It was sliced to medium thickness, and cooked perfectly to a hardness which gently wilted over the brisket and short rib beef patty. And that was also amazing and incredibly juicy, in addition to the flavor of the ancho chile-tomato jam, which I couldn’t really single out due to the presence of the hot dragon sauce, but both really mixed and worked quite well together. Overall, The Burger disappeared quite fast and proved to be an interesting, sophisticated combination of ingredients which if deconstructed on a plate could pass for a fancy steak dinner. The Belgian frites – beef fat fried fries seasoned with hops salt were great. Like I mentioned before, they were super fresh and the garlic parmesan aioli just had to be completely eradicated. I wasn’t able to single out and identify any special nuances from the beef fat or the hops salt, but next time I’ll definitely be more alert and try to eat them as an appetizer, maybe even without dipping. They were just a tad too salty for me, but nothing that 16oz. of Shark Meets Hipster couldn’t ameliorate. My other choice for pairing with the Burger would have been the Snuffleupagus Is Not a Muppet, which similarly to the SMH would be have been a great, aromatic palate cleanser with a sufficient citrusy kick and just the right amount of lingering bitterness.
Well, I am kind of a.. bread pudding enthusiast-amateur, if you will, and as such I’m on a quest to find the best bread pudding out there, I guess. If a place has one on their dessert menu list I simply have to have it. Simple as that. Naturally, Dryhop Brewers’ Warm Maple Bacon Bread Pudding with Sweet Malt Glaze & Vanilla Ice Cream was the perfect fit and shortly after I was done with my burger and beer I ordered one. I actually think that it needs and deserves a catchier, quite possibly punny name, because the current title, while admirably detailed and specific.. is… too long. This was a neat, little treat and the perfect way to call it quits. Opting out of the usual chocolate drizzle and instead glazed with malt sauce, this dessert was not too sweet and brimming with warm, malty notes enriched by tiny bits of bacon and had quite a unique, savory kick to it, which surprised and won me with its creativity. One ingredient that is omitted in the name is the handful of white raisins. White raisins are sort of new to me given that I have more experience with the more common, dark ones, but I don’t think it makes that much of a difference, really. It’s not like I have a preference. I also appreciated the size of this dessert. The piece was neither too big, nor too little. I see all these places boasting these huge chunks of bread pudding which are often too much for me to handle! Are people forgetting that bread pudding is mostly bread? I like it when my food is of the right portion, so I’m not forcing myself to finish whatever it is that I’ve ordered, especially since I have this rule about always finishing what I order. Obviously the executive chef of Dryhop Brewers’ is aware that beer is basically “liquid bread” and that in addition to all the appetizers and crazy, decadent meals, a large piece of bread pudding would be absurd. It’s the little things in life.. you know? And if you’re adventurous and still have some space remaining in your gullet, why not pair this bread pudding with a Belgian dubbel, such as the brewery’s Fading Bliss?