It’s almost a shame to smoke it. It’s like killing a unicorn… with, like, a bomb.
– Saul, “Pineapple Express”
HIGH ON FIRE
- Grilled pineapple
- Mae Ploy Sweet Chili Paste
- Roasted red pepper
- Sriracha sauce
- 10oz. beef patty
- Pretzel bun
Talks about legalizing this and that are in vogue nowadays, but I sure am glad that my vice is legal, blazed to a medium rarity, and that is comes together with some heavy metal to boot, like the Kuma’s Corner High on Fire burger! Named after the Californian stoner metal band, the High on Fire burger is what I would call a sweet and sour beef on steroids, except without all the shrinkage. And it probably won’t be enough to fool the ladies into thinking that you lift, bro. I’ll start with what’s probably on everyone’s mind and say that, NO, the High on Fire burger is not actually going to set your tongue on fire as Apocalyptica is playing a a three cello cover of Emperor Nero’s famous fiddling. Taste buds and actual taste vary, but please don’t let the name and the over-hyped potency of Sriracha sauce stop you from enjoying this delicious burger. Believe it or not, the High on Fire comes with two thick slices of grilled pineapple for that sweet, and noticeably tart taste. The pineapple plays a very important, two-pronged role here by interacting with the rest of the ingredients in ways that you’ll definitely find familiar. Doused with a generous amount of flaky Mae Ploy Sweet Chili Paste in all of its sweet chili mildness, giving candied, caramelized qualities to the grilled pineapple, while the sauce’s vinegar keeps the taste buds alive and curious. This is then brought to a whole ‘nother level when you consider the whole red roasted pepper resting on top of the beef patty. The pepper kicks the sweetness up a notch, and together with the pineapple and the chili paste forms the main ingredients for that amazing sweet and sour sauce which makes all kinds of Chinese American deep fried meat so amazing. Just the right amount of spice, sweetness and fruity tartness, just enough to wow you. The red pepper is easily the most dominant flavor here, and its sweetness will be in every bite. And sure, some people might find it strange that pineapple is sitting at the very top of this burger, but pineapple has been a burger topping for quite some time.
Also, let’s not forget Hawaiian pizzas.. and the fact that burger meat is actually a pizza topping now.
And speaking of Hawaiian pizzas, the second familiar ingredient combo is just that – pineapple and proscuitto, where the Italian sweet cured ham substitutes Canadian bacon. And last, but not least – the Sriracha. There is just enough of the infamous “rooster sauce” to turn up the heat and add its own tangy-sweet flavor to the mix. Overall, this is a nice, sweet burger with bursts of tangy acidity quickly extinguishing the heat of the Sriracha.
Interestingly enough, the Sriracha has a funny interaction with the seeds of the Mae Ploy sauce and the roasted red pepper, and it psychosomatically tricks the body to react to a non-existent added spiciness because we are used to associate chili seeds with heat. So, if the roasted pepper feels like a poblano, don’t freak out. Don’t panic! It’s just your brain…. being high. 😉
The High on Fire burger’s sweet, but tangy flavors I decided to match with some pale ale goodness to cut through the potential heat and play along with the grilled pineapple. The night started with a Three Floyds Brewing Hyena! Belgian Pale Ale [6.00% ABV] to set the mood and enjoy a slightly rarer brew by the good folks from Three Floyds. Hyena! poured a nice amber, copper-like color and had a nutty notes reinforced by caramel maltiness, and the signature clove taste and aroma of Belgian yeast. There was some citrus notes as well, and the mouthfeel was sufficiently spicy, which really prepared me for the High on Fire. The actual burger I paired with Half Acre Beer Company Akari Shogun Americal Pale Wheat Ale [5.50% ABV] on tap, which had a beautiful golden color and a balanced malt vs. hop ratio, with a lingering citrus presence which reminded me of lemon zest and orange peel. The lemon scent comes first, followed by the orange, and there is a very distinct bitterness which follows each sip.
The balanced, slightly citric nature of Akari Shogun matched the sweet and sour flavors of the High on Fire without messing with the flavor situation of the burger. Top dog pairing, I dare say. Top dog.