PulseBREW: Burgers and beers

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Where can I go to get a great burger and a great beer? This has got to be the question I get asked most often. Here are the five places I chose to answer this question. To be honest, for this article, I ate at five more – for science, of course – but these five stood out. Each delivers its own unique experience. Cheers!

Armsby Abbey
144 Main St., Worcester
Adams Farm Burger/Hill Farmstead Harlan IPA

One thing I like about eating here is that Armsby offers a beer suggestion with each of its food items. I usually go rogue and order a cheese plate and assorted appetizers with whatever beer catches my eye, but not today. Today, I ordered the Adams Farm Burger, which is described as, “House ground Adams Farm grass-fed beef chuck, heart & bone marrow with Prairie Breeze Cheddar, house pickles, caramelized onions, Dijon aioli on a fresh baked sesame-ale roll.” The beer recommendation was Hill Farmstead Harlan, an American IPA. This is one of the simplest, yet most complex, burgers I have ever had. The fresh roll came from the sister bakery next door, Crust. The custom ground beef blend from Adams Farm was full of wonderful rich beef goodness. The cheese was melted perfectly, filling in the nooks and crannies of the hand-formed patty. The fries were great; the honest potatoes, cooked and seasoned perfectly, added to the total experience. Harlan was an excellent choice to accompany this burger. The sharp, piney citrus notes from the beer countered the richness of the burger perfectly. As the beer warmed, some aromas of fruit shined through just as the burger disappeared. I have never been disappointed by a recommendation either from the menu or the educated staff, and this was no different. A complete burger and beer experience.

The Boynton
117 Highland St., Worcester
Bleu Monday/Stone Ruination Triple IPA

I sat at the bar the night I went. I ordered the Bleu Monday because it promised homemade blue cheese dressing and Canadian bacon. I know that blue cheese and bacon go well with broccoli, and now I know it works with burgers, too. Chunks of blue cheese were prevalent in the dressing, and the Canadian bacon was a welcome change of pace. The burger was all of the half-pound it was supposed to be and was a filling meal all on its own. I chose the Stone Ruination Triple IPA because I knew this was a hop bomb, and previous experience tells me that hops help cut through rich food. Strong pine and tropical fruit notes from the hops shined through in the aroma and the taste. The orange color and warmth from the alcohol let you know that this beer, like all of Stone’s IPAs, means business.

Brew City
104 Shrewsbury St., Worcester
Money Burger/Dark Horse Double Crooked Tree

I have a thing for fried eggs on my burger and could not pass up the Money Burger. It is listed as a “Kobe burger topped with prosciutto, havarti cheese, a fried egg, on a toasted brioche bun.” I gave the top of the burger a firm squeeze to release the yolk, and it did not disappoint. There is a lot of delicious fat in this burger, and I knew I needed a special beer to cut through that slippery goodness. Double Crooked Tree is a Double IPA, clocking in at 12% ABV. The alcohol warmth is strong, as are the earthy undertones, which complemented the richness of the burger nicely. This was quite a filling pair, and I needed a walk afterwards. Shrewsbury Street is an excellent place for an after dinner stroll. On a side note, this is a near perfect place for a first date. It’s easy to find and park; there’s something for everyone; and the people watching here is epic.

BT’s Smokehouse
392 Main St., Sturbridge
Local Burger of the Week/Treehouse Julius

BT’s changes its burger offering often. I have enjoyed many of them, but this was a special experience. I was on my way back from Treehouse Brewing in Monson, having just picked up some Julius IPA, and decided to stop in at BT’s, as this is a BYOB establishment. “Walnut Lane Farm grass fed beef with Robinson Farm cheese and a peach and zucchini compote from Carlson Orchards and Overlook Farm” was the description of the current burger. I’ve had the Walnut Farm beef, and it is divine. It’s evident that the patty was hand-formed. The cheese completely covered the burger. The compote was not too sweet and not too savory. It contrasted nicely with the beef. Julius from Treehouse is one of the best IPAs around, with tastes of orange zest and bright citrus. It has a hazy appearance, yet it’s light and drinks so well. It pairs perfectly with rich comfort foods like this burger.

Parkway Diner
148 Shrewsbury St., Worcester
Italian Burger/Sam Adams Rebel IPA

I knew going in that this was going to be difficult for me. I thoroughly enjoy the meatballs here. So much so, that every time I have eaten here, I order something with a meatball. I was tempted to order a meatball sandwich until I saw the Italian Burger. This is a burger with marinara sauce and provolone cheese. Simple execution, but wow. The flavors coming from the sauce melded perfectly with the patty and provolone cheese. I will definitely order this again. The Rebel IPA was a stark contrast to the burger. Pine and grapefruit tones sliced right through the Italian flavors coming from the sauce. There was a game on the televisions while I was there. This is the perfect size for a sports bar – far enough away from people so you have some privacy, quiet enough that you can have a conversation, yet close enough so the the game becomes a group experience.

By Kerry Cyganiewicz