We’re a nation obsessed with burgers. We want ’em bigger, badder and burgerier. The biggest was made at Mallie’s Sports Bar in Southgate, MI, weighing in at 185 pounds, the same as the average American male. The most expensive appears on the menu at Burger Shoppe in NYC for $175 because Kobe beef, black truffles, foie gras and mayo made with gold leaf don’t come cheap. But the best? Too subjective. Besides, just like there’s always a killer pint out there waiting to be discovered, we all keep searching for the most amazing… burger… ever.
Having said that, here are a few tips for where to start searching. My old friend Chockie Tom, who’s quite the foodie/beerie in NYC, says to start with DuMont Burger (314 Bedford Ave., Brooklyn) in Williamsburg. It’s the result of New Yorkers clamoring for a place they can get this namesake sandwich even when they’re not near the original DuMont restaurant. Condiments from tomato slices to shaved red onions are served on the side to apply to your liking. DuMont’s got a huge beer selection and they serve fried pickles!
Down in Philly, my man Bryan Kolesar who writes and lives for beer, likes to splurge. At Village Whiskey (118 S. 20th St.), the Whiskey King is a must: bacon, Rogue Bleu cheese and even foie gras, but be prepared for a $26 bill and that’s before your beer is added to the tab. While whiskey is the focus, the beer list aims high. Shoot for the Bitto Honey IPA on cask from Prism Brewing in nearby North Wales.
When your beer travels take you to or through Ypsilanti, MI, GQ once tipped me off to the Sidetrack Bar & Grill (56 E. Cross St.), believers in hand-rolling and grinding their beef for their Our Famous Handcrafted Burger. Of equal appeal is their list of handcrafted beers on draft mostly from the Wolverine State, such as Arbor, Short’s, Founder’s, Dark Horse and the town brewery, Frog Island.
Having relocated to Portland, OR, I’ve been on a mad tear around Beervana searching for places that offer the best of both worlds. Beer started flowing just this year at Burnside Brewing (701 E. Burnside), and they offer a Kobe burger seared in duck fat and held by a hop-studded bun. In case their Sweet Heat wheat beer with apricots and scotch bonnet peppers overpowers the divine flavors of the burger, try the Oatmeal Pale Ale.
But perhaps none can top something that your memory will forever recall as perfect, and for me that’s the Angus Burger at Stoudt’s Black Angus (Route 272, 2800 North Reading Road, Adamstown, PA), which is a part of and predates Stoudt’s Brewery. Ed Stoudt hand-cuts the meat daily. His wife Carol Stoudt started the brewery that conjures up authentic German styles and more, so pair the burger with a pint of pils (or go big with the imperial schwarzbier if it’s on). And all of their seven kids are involved―who do you think makes the bread, including the buns, as well as the cheese?―and you can pick your favorite of five to top the burger. As with all these places, it’s well worth the drive.
The newest kid on the burgers’n'beer block is Bull City Burger and Brewery which opened in Durham, NC, in the spring of 2011 by former Goose Island Beer Co. brewer Seth Gross.