Cary, N.C. — What two tastes make the greatest combo? No, it’s not peanut butter and chocolate—though that’s close. It’s burgers and beer, of course. That’s why The Straight Beef teamed up with their hoppy counterparts the NC Beer Guys for an outing, to see what burgio-beeric magic we might conjure up.
We wound up at Brewster’s Pub in Cary – a new sports bar at the corner of Lake Pine Drive and 64 – and while the fare was just fair, the joint buzzed with burger and beer wisdom aplenty. Keep your ears out for the next Straight Beef podcast for more on that. For now, we’ll give our review of the Brewster’s burgers, then hand the mic to the beer experts…
The Straight Beef
Michael, of course, went with the nuttiest burger on the menu: the “Brewster Bomb,” with bacon, grilled onions, mushrooms, and “drizzled with Monterey jack queso.” Though the burger wasn’t spectacular, Michael could tell that the kitchen knew a little something about burger magic. The patty had a nice char on the outside, without the too-often-predictable overcooked middle, and while the unorthodox use of what’s essentially a cheese sauce might have worked against it, the combination of toppings came together nicely. Michael’s review? Solid overall. A 3.5 out of 5.0.
Scott went with the straightforward and aptly named “Hamburger,” with traditional veggies and condiments (if you subscribe to the school of thought that considers mayo traditional). Liberally throwing around words like backyard and serviceable and respectable, Scott landed close to Michael’s view: Brewster’s serves up a decent open-grill burger that isn’t quite stand-out, but offers hints of burger magic to come. Scott review? A 3.25 out of 5.0.
The beer selection, on the other hand, left a lot to be desired. For a discussion of that, we’ll turn things over to the beer experts.
NC Beer Guys
Beer expectations run pretty high when we enter a place that has named itself both “brewsters” and “pub.” The beer-pairing selections we had for our burgers at Brewster’s Pub left those expectations dashed. It’s especially disappointing for guys that work promoting North Carolina craft beer to see so few NC-produced options on the menu! Especially with all the local breweries located within a few miles of the pub that would love to have their tasty craft beer on tap.
Anyway, they did have four good NC-produced beers in the Carolina Blonde, Caroline Strawberry Blonde, the Cottonwood Endo IPA from Foothills, and the Sweet Josie out of Lonerider. Good, if limited, options, but how were they paired with burgers?
Dave chose the “Brewster Bomb,” but with all those toppings, what beer do you pair it with that won’t be overwhelmed by the burger? Dave’s first choice was Sweet Josie. You got the beef, bacon, onions, and mushrooms to contend with, and a brown ale is a wonderful complement. You have roasted malt flavors of caramel and chocolate, which match up great with all those toppings. A burger like this would kick a wheat or fruit beer to the side. Even with Glenn selecting a burger with cheddar cheese, Sweet Josie handled it with ease. These are big burgers, so it took two beers to finish them off. Do you want the same, or is there something else on the menu that can handle the challenge?
Cottonwood Endo IPA to the rescue! India pale ales are really good at putting a bite on flavor—and also cleaning up on the end. This particular IPA has a lot of citrus flavor and a nice hop bitterness. It easily handled and paired well with all the flavors it was up against.
What NC craft beer do you like to pair with your summer burgers?
Dave Tollefsen and Glenn Cutler are regular guys living in central North Carolina with their families who share a love for craft beer and homebrewing. They work together as the NCBeerGuys, reviewing North Carolina craft beer, providing information about the folks who produce local beer and writing about and promoting beer adventures, activities and events across North Carolina.
Michael Marino and Scott Blumenthal are part of The Straight Beef, a group of professional burgiatrists who review, rate and rank Triangle-area burgers on their award-winning blog. You can read more about The Straight Beef, including their education and scholarship, ratings system, and burger categorization method here