Beer & Sear is a special feature brought to you monthly by Bill’s Bar & Burger in Downtown Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Craft Beer Network. Each month, we take a burger appearing on Bill’s menu and pair it with a local Pittsburgh beer to discover how well they work together. Your mission, should you choose to accept it (and you damn well should): Get to Bill’s pronto and test out the pairing for yourself!
Beer. Burgers. Football. There’s nothing more glorious than this holy trinity of awesomeness aligning when the calendar strikes September. Whether it’s getting the last of your Summer grilling sessions in or pulling up a stool at your favorite destination in town, grabbing a quality beer + a delicious burger makes Steelers season that much more enjoyable.
It’s only fitting that as I sit down to prepare this month’s Beer & Sear feature, the Steelers are literally kicking off their 2016 campaign on a quest for championship number seven. Plenty of questions linger as they prepare to do battle against the Washington Redskins: Can DeAngelo Williams step up and replicate his 2015 performance in the absence of Le’Veon Bell until Week 4? Can young Jesse James succeed Heath Miller as the multi-purpose tight end and Ben Roethlisberger’s security blanket? Who will rise to fill the void left by suspended Martavis Bryant opposite the unstoppable Antonio Brown? Can the defense rebound with a young secondary to capture days of Steel Curtain glory past? 16 games ahead will tell the story.
To capture the spirit that is Steelers season, Bill’s Bar & Burger teamed up with Steelers radio personalities Tunch Ilkin and Craig Wolfley. Ilkin does color commentary along side Bill Hillgrove and Wolfley serves as the Steelers sideline reporter on radio broadcasts heard on 102.5 WDVE. Ilkin’s “Call the travel agent, we’re goin’ to Denver!” line during the Steelers’ epic upset of the Indianapolis Colts en route to Super Bowl XL in 2005 will live in Pittsburgh broadcasting infamy.
In addition, Tunch and Wolf host the Pregame Meal Podcast on the Pittsburgh Podcast Network. Check out last week’s episode featuring Chefs Michael and Clare from Bill’s as they talk Steelers AND this month’s Burger of the Month: The aptly-named Tunch & Wolf Burger. To keep the local flair in tact, we paired this bad boy with Helltown Brewing’s infamous Mischievous Brown Ale, an offering that pairs with pretty much anything your server puts in front of you.
Let’s tee things up and take a look at both in this football-fueled edition of Beer & Sear!
September’s Pairing Feature
THE BURGER: The Tunch & Wolf Burger
THE BEER: Helltown Brewing’s Mischievous Brown Ale
Bill’s Bar & Burger in Pittsburgh is one of five locations in the Bill’s family and has been part of our community for just over a year. They also have destinations in Downtown New York, New York’s Meatpacking District, Rockefeller Center, and Atlantic City, as well as a high-end steakhouse in Las Vegas. The theme behind Bill’s is to present approachable, yet elevated food items with burgers leading the charge combined with a laid-back, “every-man’s” approach to adult libations. With over 1.9 million burgers sold, Bill’s is dedicated to consistently creating memorable experiences for their guests while offering the best our local beer scene has to offer. They source locally as much as possible and feature an extensive lineup of local beers and spirits for your enjoyment.
About Helltown Brewing
Helltown Brewing was started in 2011 when a small group of home brewers decided to take a weekend hobby and push it to the next level. Like most craft breweries, they brew with passion, dedication, and attention to detail. The result is a great product for you and I to enjoy, with a a wide range of styles all made with the freshest ingredients.
The name ‘Helltown Brewing’ was born from the historical roots tied to its birthplace. In the late 1700s, the area that would later become Mount Pleasant was a hotbed for whiskey production and distribution. As bootlegging and lawlessness spread through the area, this quiet little community was given the handle “Helltown.” To add to its hellish lore, Mount Pleasant’s zip code is 15666.
The Tunch & Wolf Burger is the creation of Bill’s creative chefs in collaboration with Ilkin and Wolfley, mentioned above. It consists of two 4oz. beef patties, smoked gouda, bacon, caramelized onions, tomato, horseradish mayo, ketchup, and mustard, all found between a Martin’s Potato Roll.
About the Beer
One of the top brown ales available in Pittsburgh is Helltown Brewing’s Mischievous Brown Ale. Helltown produces some of the best IPAs in town (I’ll take Idle Hands for the win, Wink), but Mischievous is actually their highest-selling beer. Countless craft beer destinations across Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and parts of Ohio have jumped on the Helltown train and feature this solid Brown Ale from the Mount Pleasant brewery. The diversity Mischievous brings to the table in regards to being a bold, flavorful, easy-drinking beer combined with its innate ability to pair with just about any food on the menu has made it a staple offering in the Helltown portfolio.
Why You Need This In Your Mouth
Oh baby, do the flavors jump out with this bad boy! Almost instantly, the smokiness contributed by the gouda finds a home in your mouth and meshes beautifully with the saltiness of the bacon and burger patties. The caramelized onion offers a sweet compliment to the burger’s flavor profile and balances things out in delicious fashion. Of the three condiments, the horseradish mayo stood out the most for me. But, I’ve been a full-blown mayo-ketchup combo fan since the very first day I discovered it and that love affair continues on with each bite of this burger. To ensure you get some vegetables in your diet, the tomato is an added bonus to a burger with lots going on. The potato roll is delicious. It’s so soft, it practically melts in your mouth…but it holds up well against the stack of ingredients it’s been tasked with showcasing.
Sitting right next to my Tunch & Wolf is a pint of Mischievous Brown and, as I mentioned before, this beer is the perfect pairing companion for just about any food. In the past, I’ve had it with steak, chicken, even cupcakes, and not once has it disappointed. The trend continues as Mischievous serves as an excellent palate cleanser, washing away the lingering smokiness and saltiness with each sweet, malt-forward sip. There’s a reason Mischievous leads the charge in Helltown’s portfolio and putting it next to a burger with several flavors taking center stage and having it work so well proves why.
If beer isn’t your jam, you can pair The Tunch & Wolf Burger with a delicious, old school Vanilla Malt Shake!
The game just ended. Steelers 38, Redskins 16. With one game in the books, here are the answers to the Steelers questions I asked in the intro: Yes, Yes-ish, Just keep throwing to AB, Yes. One game doesn’t tell the whole story, but you can’t help but get excited after that performance. We may be staring down the barrel at a very successful season. I’ll raise a pint and a burger to that.
Week 2 is an early-season showdown with division-rival Cincinnati. You know, the guys from last year’s Wild Card game with the orange helmets and the cheap shots. Be sure to include The Tunch & Wolf and a Mischievous Brown in your Steelers plans for this coming Sunday’s home opener.
Here We Go!