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!
This month’s Beer & Sear keeps the focus on the Black & Gold while giving me an opportunity to try something different from a pairing perspective.
I guess you can consider me a “cider novice.” I’ve drank them, I’ve enjoyed them, I’ve come back for seconds. But I don’t consider myself any sort of cider connoisseur and I’ve never dabbled with food and cider pairings. So when my friends at Bill’s Bar & Burger asked me to pair Jack’s Original Hard Cider with one of their staple gourmet burgers, I happily accepted the challenge.
Last month was all about the Steelers as Tunch Ilkin and Craig Wolfley got in the game and helped the chefs at Bill’s create The Tunch & Wolf Burger, a delicious two-patty burger bomb that Bill’s featured as their Burger of the Month and its creators consumed on their podcast “The Pregame Meal,” heard exclusively on the Pittsburgh Podcast Network. It was definitely a mouthful and yet another excellent one-time offering from Bill’s.
We are now at the midpoint of October and it’s undeniably a good time to be a sports fan in Pittsburgh. The aforementioned Steelers are off to a hot 4-1 start (perhaps The Tunch & Wolf Burger generated some good juju?) and this month’s Beer & Sear debuts on the same day our defending Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins raise the championship banner at PPG Paints Arena and drop the puck to kick off their 2016-2017 title defense.
It’s only fitting that the Black ‘N Gold Burger take center stage. Here we go!
October’s Pairing Feature
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.
Jack’s Hard Cider is produced and canned by Hauser Estate Winery just eight miles west of Historic Gettysburg, PA. Featuring farm fresh flavor, never from concentrate, Jack’s Hard Cider is a major part of the growing craft cider revolution in the Western PA region and beyond. They use apples native to Adams County, Pennsylvania and offer their Original and Helen’s Blends year-round, in addition to a steady rotation of seasonal blends as well.
About The Burger
The Black ‘N Gold Burger consists of a thick black pepper crusted burger patty, cheddar cheese, worcestershire-shallot jam, dijonaise, lettuce and tomato, built on a pretzel bun.
About The Cider
Jack’s Original Cider offers a dry, crisp and refreshing taste. They describe your first sip as “like biting into the perfect apple,” and that couldn’t be a more accurate statement. Their suggested food pairings are blackened fish, citrus salad, BBQ, spicy salsa, and pumpkin pie. No mention of a burger, leaving me to ponder how well this pairing will work. Let’s dig in and find out.
Why You Need This In Your Mouth
First off, the burger. We live in a world where culinary creativity rules the realm and, often times, that means our burger is loaded up with all sorts of special items. Bacon, onions, avocados, fries, slaw, etc. Trust me, in no way, shape, or form is that a complaint and it never ceases to amaze me how many combinations truly work. But, having said that, it’s nice when the burger patty itself is the shining star and that’s exactly what’s happening with the Black ‘N Gold Burger.
The beef patty is a 1/2 pound of deliciousness consisting of Bill’s custom blend of chuck, brisket, and short rib, all black pepper crusted. The cheddar cheese is the perfect choice to top this patty, adding that smooth, velvety touch to each and every bite. Again, there’s not a lot of toppings involved with the Black ‘N Gold, so your senses stay focused on how excellent the meat works. The worcestershire-shallot jam and dijonaise combination are absolutely delicious and the addition of lettuce and tomato give the Black ‘N Gold that classic burger characteristic we’ve all come to know and appreciate.
Now, the cider. It’s tasty. As I mentioned before, Jack’s describes drinking this offering as “biting into the perfect apple” and I can vouch for that. It’s light and makes for a cool, refreshing beverage option. I could see myself cozying up with this on the patio during sessions in the summer time. And, to completely obliterate my skepticism, the combination works! Now, I’m a beer guy through and through, so I’ll always return to my hoppy, malty master. But the cider served as an exceptional palate cleanser in between bites of the Black ‘N Gold. The light, crisp, and sweeter-than-most-beer profile of Jack’s Original Cider mixed beautifully with the rich, bold flavors of the burger.
October truly is a black and gold month. Chants of “Here We Go, Steelers” and “Lets Go Pens” will soon be all you’ll hear walking through the streets of the City of Champions. Enhance your experience for all things Pittsburgh by taking a trip to Bill’s and sinking your teeth into this fantastic combination!