“That’s right, there’s free beer in Irish paradise. Everyone’s jealous.”
– Kevin Hearne, “Hammered”, Iron Druid Chronicles
Burger of the Month at Kuma’s Schaumburg for March, 2016
- Fried Egg Sunny Side Up
- Smoked Gouda cheese
- Deep fried Brussels sprouts
- Bacon fat andouille banger
- Great Lakes Conway’s Irish Red Ale “Neurosis” mushroom gravy
- 10oz. beef patty
- Pretzel bun
The month of March has a lot of things in store for us Chicago/suburbanites – the death throes of winter, the pang of paying taxes, some kind of basketball madness, Shamrock Shakes, short shorts weather, and the Chicago River turning green for the massive St. Patrick’s festivities! Thus, it should come as no surprise that the lads from Kuma’s are also celebrating the Holy Patron Snakeslayer with a burger of their own – The Saxon, named after the British pillar of heavy metal.
Sure, it’s lacks the flair of the TOME burger‘s Irish breakfast fanfare, but it compensates with a heavy dose of bubble and squeak that will break your fast AND all those pesky, dirty Franks.
It’s certainly charming how most British food is basically our staple “pub grub”; it’s hard to resist because pub grub seems to be one of the (many) national weaknesses of the U.S, and no amount of Founding Fathers can save us from its influence. The Saxon burger wins out hearts with that perfectly cooked egg, and the ridiculously rich addition of a bacon fat andouille banger is like what you end up when you have Dr. Frankenstein starring on “Iron Chef America” with an entire friggin’ pig as the secret ingredient. The banger was my favorite part of the burger, and the ingredient that gave it that bite – not exactly a crunch, definitely not a crisp, just something to sink your teeth into. Garlicky, smokey and full of all the bacon, just a wonderful ingredient, on a wonderful burger. The Brussels sprouts were also outstanding, though they compromised the structure of the burger a bit by moving all over the place, and the Gouda cheese played along with their slight caramelization, as well as the umami of the “Neurosis” style sauteed mushroom gravy based on the Great Lakes Conway’s Irish Ale Irish Red Ale [6.50% ABV], which is full of bold, full-bodied and rich caramel and toffee notes that go hand in hand with the seriously shroomy gravy. Speaking of mushrooms and umami, Great Lakes Brewing Co. also recommends their Great Lakes Eliot Ness Amber Lager [6.10% ABV] in the preparation of fungus-based gravy, and the Eliot Ness Mushroom Gravy on their website seems like a promising example. Way more promising that Ness’ obsession with prohibition.
So, the Saxon? Verdict: ravishingly good. Still more partial to the TOME as far as Irish-related grub goes, but I cannot say no to a banger and the sprouts o’ Brussels!
As with most food that has some beer component in it, your safest bet is to actually go with that same form of libation on the side. So, the Great Lakes Conway’s Irish Ale Irish Red Ale [6.50% ABV] would be the logical brew to do, especially if you want to bring out more of the sauteed, caramelized tones of the mushroom gravy AND play along with the Gouda’s love for all things nutty and biscuity.
Personally, I went for a BuckleDown Brewing/Kuma’s Corner Mark of the Yeast American Pale Ale [5.30% ABV], which yeah, as the link suggest is a collab with our favorite bovine slayers. Less This is a pale ale brimming with Mosaic hop, which is a hop notorious for its pleasant aroma that really pretty much has all the notes. Berry, pine, tropical, herbal, you name it, the Mosaic hop’s got it, just like the name suggests. A beer brewed with this hop showcases all of its complexity, and because taste is mostly sense of smell, Mosaic beers are prone to a two-pronged flavor profile. Basically, thing of Mark of the Yeast flicking its double-tipped tongue at you as you’re enjoying the tropical notes. Initially, yeah, it’s just that – smooth tropical fruit notes, some pine entwined with the cold and refreshing beer. Then, as soon as you swallow, there’s what I call the “cutthroat wave” where all the aromatic notes become intensified, stop the lingering of the first wave and return to the nose. The “cutthroat wave” is herbal, has a more pronounced pine, and citrus shows out of nowhere and then lingers on its own. Obviously, this profile is probably not the ideal pairing for the Saxon – The Mosaic hop is pretty selfish and kind of a scene-hogger, but only because it’s sooooo goood. Once in a while.
But why no 6.66% ABV, Kuma’s Corner?