“We need to remember what’s important in life. Friends, waffles, and work. Or waffles, friends, work. It doesn’t matter. But work is third.”
– Leslie Knope, “Parks and Recreation”
Burger of the Month at Kuma’s Schaumburg for January, 2016
- Belgian waffle strips
- Maple syrup drizzle
- Deep fried blackened chicken tender
- Applewood smoked bacon
- Sharp cheddar cheese
- Raspberry aioli
- 10oz. beef patty
- Pretzel bun
Welcome to 2016! It’s almost mid-January now, which means that your gyms are probably still crawling with resolutionists taking selfies and forgetting to put back their gear where it’s supposed to be. And I’m sorry for that, I really am. Not because I’m one of those guys (because I’m not), but because you could have been out there, exploring the culinary intricacies of Chicago’s burger scene with me, and hoo lawd do I believe that ’16 will be full of delicious red meat and libations!
Like the previous couple of years, the folks over at Kuma’s have once again decided to start with the Sourvein burger, named after the doom and sludge metalheads from North Carolina! And, as it usually goes with Burgers of the Month being released more than once, it’s definitely because the Sourvein kicks ass by being one of the most delicious and filling burgers in Kuma’s repertoire. After all, everyone loves to eat, but it is the thought of breakfast that conjures the most appetizing food-related thoughts, which in my case are also closely followed by the association of of vikings breaking the fast of a bunch of monks during Grace. Now that’s metal…. but that’s just me, I’m sure. 😉
The presence unfound comes to me now.
Endure, see this knowledge denied out of mind
To deny – Until I say – Feed us alive!
– Neurosis “Times of Grace”
It all sounds like those “secret menu” items that border on urban myths, like the McDonald’s “Land, Sea, and Air Burger” or Manbearpig, but it really does taste as good as it sounds. There’s the always perfectly prepared bacon, the actually tender on the inside, crispy on the outside chicken tender, and the patty itself – all joined together by a very generous amount of cheddar cheese. The savory meats are then closely followed by the lingering, sticky sweetness of all the syrup, much like the feedback-drenched songs by Sourvein, and they are slow to fade just like the burger is slow to devour. Then, the raspberry aioli comes in mild as well, balanced by the maple syrup, and it all just enhances the presence of the soft Belgian waffle strips which do such an amazing job at holding everything together.
The Sourvein was a delight to dig into and like lembas wafers was “a chewing exercise” (screw elves, though – Kuma’s policy has a thing or two to say about their hippie ways) with miraculous tummy-filling powers, which also make a mockery out of nonsensical verbiage such as breakfast, second breakfast, elevensies, luncheon, afternoon tea, dinner OR supper. With the Sourvein you’ll have no use for them, for you will eat once and be quite happy with your wise choice.
The Fried Japaleño Poppers appetizer, obviously. So good – Panko-breaded peppers stuffed with cream cheese AND chorizo offered with a spicy balsamic jalapeño raspberry jam dip! This should add to the whole raspberry deal that’s going on, AND adds some much needed heat! Pair this with a Marz Community Brewing Bourbon Barrel Aged Blueberry Bubbly Creek Berliner Weissbier [4.00% ABV] – more on that below.
There is a lot happening with the Sourvein, so pairing it with libations is both easy and challenging. It really depends on which parts of the burger one wants to enrich and enjoy. Two years ago, I “pre-gamed” with a glass of Four Roses Yellow bourbon on the rocks (available ON TAP!) as my twisted equivalent of an appetizer. Then enjoyed a glass Une Année Maya Belgian IPA [7.60% ABV] -sweet, slightly citrusy, dry-hopped Belgian Golden Ale, which was Kuma’s Too’s recommended beer for The Sourvein burger. While I did like this pairing, I thought it was too general an approach, so this time I decided to choose for myself and be more specific.
The Belgian waffle strips are certainly the most interesting and unique part of the Sourvein, and while pairing it with a beer that plays well with the raspberry aioli to give it that extra berry blast. 21st Amendment Brewery Toaster Pastry India-Style Red Ale [7.40% ABV] should work well here with plenty of hops to cut through the greasiness, and some strawberry and biscuit notes.
The Dark Horse Brewing Company Dark Horse Raspberry Ale Fruit Beer [5.50% ABV] is always available at most locations, though I would ideally go with the Dogfish Head Fort Fruit Beer [18.00% ABV], which is probably the strongest fruit beer ever, as well as the raspberriest one, brewed with over a ton of pureed raspberries. That’s a lot! It’s a bit unlikely that you’ll find it at Kuma’s because it’s a rare one, but GrubHub is a thing.
Waffles and raspberries are also a thing, but nothing says waffles like blueberries – the quintessential American pairing. Rather than add more raspberries to the fray, I decided to go for that “forest fruits mix” vibe in addition to the fact that blueberries just make more sense! I started with Marz Community Brewing Bourbon Barrel Aged Blueberry Bubbly Creek Berliner Weissbier [4.00% ABV], which is by far the longest name AND best description of a beer I’ve ever had the pleasure of trying. It’s just what the title says – incredibly bubbly, and full of the characteristic sourness paired with great blueberry flavor. This sour beer pours a beautiful grapefruit pink, and looks more like wine than anything else, and it’s a great way to start a session of drinking and eating. Can’t think of a better way to pucker up and cleanse the palate at the same time! For the actual burger, I finished my Berliner Weiss, an decided to continue with the blueberry trend, except this time I went for a Dark Horse Brewing Company Dark Horse Tres Blueberry Stout American Stout [7.50% ABV]. Style-wise this stout is Bubbly Creek’s polar opposite, though it still full of blueberry flavor. The transition, once you wrap your head around it, is seamless. GREAT smell, some chocolate, balanced malt up front, lots of blueberry in the nose, more blueberry sweetness lingering after the mocha nuances are gone. This stout has a beautiful velvety mouthfeel to it, and the blueberry just cuts through all the usual qualities of a stout which is great, because I’m no coffee lover. Overall both beers played very well with the maple syrup and raspberry aioli of the Sourvein burger, AND worked surprisingly well together.