Hey, you know what an advert on a bus told me the other day? That Burgers and Bud are the original power couple. Ignoring the ridiculousness (and gossip-obsessed grossness) of the term “power couple”, can I just say that I disagree? While having a burger and a bud at some bar showing lots of sports on large TVs for a price that implies at least one of the two items can’t be of excellent quality doesn’t sound that bad to a lot of the population, we can, in fact, do much better. Bud (or America or whatever the hell it’s being called) does pair with some food. That’s the thing about beer; unless the beer is flawed or otherwise undrinkable, there is some food pairing that will work well. In the example above, though, surely the pairing is less about gastronomical elevation, and more about the fact that Bud is generally cold and fizzy and will get you drunk. It “pairs” with a burger insofar as when you eat a burger, you might want a drink. And a Bud is a drink.
But despite 180 words to the contrary, I’m not actually here to tear down what is surely a very very expensive partnership/marketing campaign (think, more than the yearly budget of a number of Toronto-based breweries combined). But rather, to help you actually pair different burgers with fitting local beers.
Burger’s Priest/Left Field
Widely accepted as the best burger in Toronto, Burger’s Priest is the top of this list on purpose. With options ranging from just-a-burger to a 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse, I would never suggest you just stick to one burger, but the gold standard is a bacon double cheese burger. Grab one of those from the original Beach location, then head up to Left Field Brewery, grab a seat in their taproom (outside food is allowed/encouraged), and get yourself a glass of Sunlight Park Saison. Burger’s Priest cooks their fresh-ground beef on a proper flat-top (griddle) and with the bacon and cheese, you’re going to have a a lot of rich fatty goodness on your hands, and the bright citrusy saison will cut right through it, and the spices from the saison yeast will add complexity to the beef and bacon.
Holy Chuck/Amsterdam Brewing
Holy Chuck also serves up basic burgers and epic towering creations, all built around fresh-ground never-frozen beef patties. So hit up one of their locations (the Woodbridge shop has a drive-through!) and take your burger to go. Get yourself their The Mooogats Burger (two patties with parmigiano, spicy sopressatta, and homemade peperoncini in oil), head home, load up something cool on Netflix (or geeky math videos on Youtube if you’re me), and pour yourself an Amsterdam Fracture IIPA. The big hoppy Imperial IPA will keep up with the heat in the burger, and will compliment the complex parmesan cheese.
Lansdowne Brewery/Lansdowne Brewery
Still with that new-brewery-smell Jeremy, Darrin and their crew are quickly establishing Lansdowne Brewery as a killer spot to stop in Brockton for beer and food. Their burger is a classic house-ground burger with white cheddar and optional bacon (and is available in kid’s size too, which pairs well with their homemade draught sodas). As they are just ramping up their production not all their beers are always available, but if you can lay your hands on their Buck10 Imperial Amber Ale you won’t be disappointed. Great balance of sweet malts and big bittering hops in this fantastic beer will work well with the cheddar, and will bring out some of the complexities in the top-quality beef. You may find you fancy a second beer for dessert.
Toma Burger Addiction/Bellwoods Brewery
Sporting an array of burger-based awards, Toma Burger Addiction serves burgers to the ever-hip masses of Trintiy-Bellwoods. A short walk from Bellwoods Brewery, grab yourself a bottle of their Farmhouse Classic, walk over to Toma and score a “The Wild Life” burger, and have a little picnic of deliciousness in the park. The burger features swiss cheese, cremini mushrooms, truffle mayo, arugula, double smoked bacon, balsamic glaze, and truffle oil. The bright, slightly vinous and funky Farmhouse Classic saison will juxtapose a lot of the earthiness of the toppings with it’s spicy phenolic yeast characteristics, and the touches of funk from the brettanomyces will compliment the compexity of the fungus.
The Stockyards Smokehouse and Larder/Rainhard Brewing
While they’re known for their epic smoked pork variants and amazing fried chicken, The Stockyards also makes a mean burger. Grab yourself a Beast Style with two mustard seared patties, secret sauce, caramelized onions, lettuce, american cheese, and pickles, and pop over to Rainhard Brewing for some Kapow! IPA on tap. Like Left Field, Rainhard encourages people to support local restaurants and bring in food, though they also offer daily meat and cheese boards. The huge, fruity Kapow! IPA will stand up to the mustard seared patty, and will compliment the sweet caramelly onions nicely.
Your BBQ/Muddy York Brewing
Yeah, I know the actual best burger in the city is the one you make yourself. Hand-formed patties made from beef your butcher ground for you from a combination of cuts. Seared to perfect medium-rare (food safety be damned!) over natural hardwood charcoal. Topped with your homemade BBQ sauce and onions you caramelized in a century-old cast iron pan on the grill. I hear you. And I’ve got your back, Jack. Swing by Muddy York, and grab bottles of their incredible porter. The chocolatey porter with touches of burnt sugar and slight smokiness is maybe the ultimate in BBQ beer styles. All those flavours draw out the wonderful charred meat and smoke in the burger. Added bonus: it is also fantastic with the marshmallows you can toast over the coals after you’re done your burger.
Bonus Round: The Wren
In addition to two pretty solid burgers on their standard menu, The Wren also boasts daily specials that are often burgers. Add to that their amazing selection of beers and highly knowledgeable staff, and The Wren could well be one of the best bets for delicious burger and beer pairing. Follow their Insta @TheWrenDanforth, for seriously hunger-inducing pics.