DINER STYLE BRINED BURGER
- Wild arugula
- Whipped chevre goat cheese
- Two beef patties
- Olive mayonnaise
- Spicy mustard
- Sweet bread and butter pickles
- Pretzel bun
Walking down Randolph St. in Chicago’s West Loop area can very easily get your goat if you have agrizoophobia, with pubs and eateries such as Little Goat, Girl and the Goat, and Billy Goat Tavern (on Madison St.), with just the Lone Wolf Tavern in a diver bar’s clothing to watch the flock and justify the name of Randolp St.: it means “shield wolf” (Rannulfr in Old Norse) or “raven wolf” (Rannulf in Frankish) depending on which exit you take on Etymology highway.
Well, that probably bored you to death. Anyways, amongst all these damned animals is the Haymarket Pub & Brewery and it’s where I started my Chicago Craft Beer Week 2014 and ordered a delicious burger that I want to talk to you about!
While its name cannot compete with the colorful names of the Haymarket’s beers (e.g, Lady Bits, Ombibulous 5.0, Snuffleupagus Is A Muppet, Rainbow Sock Monkey…), the Diner Style Brined Burger makes up with its bold, rich flavor.
And when I say rich, I mean rich. The DSBB is a deceptively filling burger, which really surprised me by the time I was halfway done with it, and had me thinking “My gosh! I’ve only had one beer so far. Why am I struggling with this?!“. The DSBB combines three very interesting “condiments” to achieve a very balanced and creamy mouthfeel while also making the devouring of the two beef patties way easier than it should be. The whipped chèvre (just a sneaky French word for “goat”!) cheese is the first thing that surprised me. Super smooth, very spreadable and soft, it formed a nice foundation for the rest of the condiments and ingredients without being too salty, with the wild arugula substituting the usual watery lettuce staple. In addition, the arugula gave the chèvre cheese that distant herbed taste, while also adding some crunch to the mix. Best part of the burger, however, was the olive mayonnaise, which was very light, but full of that olive flavor and until the very end I actually felt like I was eating fresh, black olives. The olive mayo was definitely the dominant flavor here, with only the tangy aftertaste of the sweet pickles at the bottom of the burger. I really like sweet pickles, which always remind me of the jars of pickled turshiya vegetables we used to prepare for the winter. The flavor of pickled red peppers really gets in all the other vegetables, giving them a slightly candied and spicy taste. The spicy mustard just acts as a great finish to the DSBB, playing along with the slight spiciness of the pickles and blending with the mayo and cheese. Overall, the Diner Style Brined Burger was very good and definitely the type of bar food with just the right amounts of hotness, richness and greasiness that will have you quaffing beer after beer before, during and after the delicious ordeal of devouring it!
ALSO, if you are crazy (and I didn’t do it because I FORGOT to), you should totally add an over easy fried egg on top to make the burger sacrilegiously rich in flavor. DO IT.
I couldn’t find a beer that immediately sounded like a must-have pairing for the burger, so I decided to try some of the brewery’s beers on tap. Managed to sample only three kinds this time around, but I was pleasantly surprised by Haymarket’s willingness to do their own thing and experiment with the creation of new and interesting craft beers, which is how it should be!
- Rainbow Sock Monkey American Wheat Ale [5.00% ABV] – An incredibly light and, as foreshadowed by its description, pink beer brewed with pear and raspberry juice. Had a medium foamy head and raspberry was all that I could smell and taste, with the pear doing more of a balancing act with its neutral flavor. It was fabulous in its own way and extremely easy to drink. Tangy without being tart, again because of the pear. It’s not the hopocalyptic cold one that hopheads and other beer experts will enjoy too much, but it was awesome while it lasted. Beers like Rainbow Sock Monkey are just a great example of why beer will always trump wine in my book, simply because you will never get such an interesting profile and flavor from a bottle of wine, no matter what kind or where it is from.
- Passion House Coffee Porter Porter [6.20% ABV] – WOW! I’ve had plenty of porters and “coffee stouts”, but Haymarket’s Passion House Coffee Porter wins by far when it comes to the actual presence of coffee. Where many porters taste rather chocolatey, this porter immediately attacked the palate with the strong aroma and flavor of cold pressed Guatemala Puerta Verde. The combination of malts and beans gave this porter a very dark and slightly burnt character and every sip actually felt like going inside a coffee shop. Though the flavor of coffee was potent, the aftertaste was a bit milder with slight notes of passionfruit and other tropical fruits. Now, I am not a coffee snob, a coffee expert or even a regular coffee drinker, but the end of every sip really reminds me of Tres Santos Colombia by Chicago’s very own Intelligentsia Coffee, which has a significantly lighter body, but a similar citrus-infused aftertaste with hints of cherry and hibiscus. It’s almost like taking a big swig of black coffee and then chasing it with a hot cup of rose hip and hibiscus herbal tea. My 4oz. glass of this was more than enough for me, but I guess I just like my porters slightly less caffeinated. I think that as of right now the Passion House Coffee Porter is unavailable.
- Girl And The Goatee VI Belgian Farmhouse Ale [5.60% ABV] – MORE GOATS! This light colored, almost transparent ale is based on a collaboration with Little Goat‘s Chef Stephanie Izard’s “Rub Number 2” as its foundation, and as such it is seriously spiced with black pepper, Thai chillies, cumin, mustard seed, cardamom, star anise, cloves, and cinnamon, making this probably the most complex beer I’ve ever had. I believe that because of this staggering list of ingredients, this ale has a sort of “wildcard” effect on the palate, meaning that you’ll pick up the spices that you’re most familiar with. I identified the cloves, cinnamon, star anise and a faint hint of cumin in the mix, and my friend was really able to taste the cardamom. We both agreed that this smells and tastes rather festive-like, with an aftertaste reminiscent of those crumbly Christmas cookies dunked in rather spiced and boozy eggnog, though the Noely (get it?) of Christmas quickly faded away. In its place, the Girl and the Goatee VI boasted with a very balanced, light and sesionable beer. It does this weird thing where you can both taste the beer and the food you’re pairing it with simultaneously AND individually, and despite the richness of the DSBB it lingered on the palate enriching all the flavors of the food. I can see this ale pairing extremely well with all sorts of foods both savory and sweet. Even with desserts or as as a late breakfast beverage if you’re having pancakes with a generous amount of sausage links AND/OR bacon on the side. Additionally, it should go well with whatever goes well with mead or glogg – raisins, almonds, dried plums. Fruit compotes. BBQ. Also, it definitely trumps the Dogfish Head Brewery’s Piercing Pils Czech Pilsener [6.00% ABV] pairing I usually recommend with Kuma’s Corner’s Lair of the Minotaur burger since the cinnamon, star anise and cloves are so well pronounced. Bough a growler of this!
With a short, but varied list of appetizers and salads, the choice is yours, really. With how rich and creamy the DSBB is, I’d recommend one of the salads, especially the Pear Salad which seems light enough, or the Cured & Pickled appetizer plate with housemade charcuterie, local cheeses and housemade pickles if you want more of the same before you have this burger. Personally, I split a Smoked Poutine (smoked ham hock gravy, andouille, cheese curds, apples) with my friend. It was my first time having poutine, which was why I was eager to try it, and I gotta say that the andouille sausage AND apple bits were a nice touch and played very well together. Remind me to one day create my very own version of this, because the Vladimir Poutine needs to be a thing.. like… Right. Now.
Ordered my Diner Style Brined Burger with a small side of Mac&Cheese, which was good and I ate it like an additional appetizer. Nothing to write home about. Had a little kick to it? My friend ordered Grilled Broccolini because they were out of Charred Brussel Sprouts & Bacon, and to be honest both of those sound like a much better pairing with the DSBB.
While the Girl And The Goatee VI Belgian Farmhouse Ale [5.60% ABV] will do, as soon as I tasted the Diner Style Brined Burger I immediately knew what I wanted to pair it with – Anderson Valley Brewing Company Poleeko Pale Ale American Pale Ale [5.50% ABV] (this is the link for Poleeko Gold Ale – it has a slightly different label and is there is no information of it on the website, but the Poleeko Pale Ale that I had is not available on any other websites. Weird.) Pooleeko Pale Ale is an interesting malty, lager-like ale with citrus notes unique to the company’s own blend of hops with pineapple/grapefruit appearing and disappearing as you drink this beer. I’ll tell you one thing that I haven’t seen on any other review, though – the aftertaste of this beer has a very, very strong resemblance to black olives. In fact, the first time I had Poleeko Pale Ale I ran to the fridge and grabbed a handfull of black Turkish olives and snacked on them as I was quaffing the beer. It was perfect. As such, I can see this beer being the perfect partner in crime to the rich and flavorful DSBB. It will cut through the greasiness and the creamy cheese, it will add some refreshment and it will leave you with the dry aftertaste of olives: the perfect transition from bite to bite. The official website recommends to pair this with Caprese salad and feta cheese, but I’d take this to another level and upgrade to a simplified Greek salad, or to my favorite (in my totally not biased opinion) – Bulgarian Shopska salad with a generous Kalamata olives “garnish”.