Last weekend, the lounge area of Vic & Anthony's downtown was packed with beer nerds and burger lovers. Brock Wagner, the founder of Saint Arnold, stopped by too. When Chef and "Burger Friday" master Carlos Rodriguez first tweeted about Vic & Anthony's pulling out three rare Saint Arnold beers to be paired with two varities of lucious, decadent burgers and crunchy sea salt fries, I knew I was in.
Even with a price tag of $35, the massive burger, mound of fries, and 4 ounces each of Bishop's Barrel No.1, No. 2, and Divine Reserve 13 (all sell-outs and never-to-be-released again) certainly justified the price tag for me. Plus, "Burger Fridays" usually aren't something I can swing, since I don't work near downtown. But when I saw that the promotion would run all weekend, I decided to have a casual dinner in the lounge, also a rare occasion, as the steakhouse is normally a get-gussied-up dining destination.
My companion and I ordered both burgers and split them so we could try each. First up was the "Holy Cow"- 10 ounces of perfectly cooked ground beef topped with chimichurri skirt steak, aged provolone, chimichurri sauce, and a fried egg. Melted, gooey cheese brilliantly combined with rich egg yolk, while the bright, acidic chimichurri sauce cut through the decadence. And who can say no to a little extra skirt steak?
My personal favorite was the "Bone Marrow and Bacon," a burger topped with bone marrow custard, house-made bacon, smoked gouda, pickled shallots, and Thai chili. The thick-cut, juicy bacon combined with the smoky cheese, while the acidity from the pickled shallots and the fatty goodness of the bone marrow custard brought the burger to new heights.
Of course, the beer flight added an extra layer of flavor that complemented the burgers each in their own way. I started my flight with the least alcoholic of the bunch, Bishop's Barrel No. 2, an old ale aged in Chardonnay barrels with cherries. The slight funk from the cherries and blending in of lactobacillus and brettanomyces before bottling is something I've wanted to see come out of Saint Arnold for the longest time. The funk, mixed with the maltiness of an old ale and the oak character from the barrel, made for an approachable funky beer.
Next up was the recently released Divine Reserve 13, a Belgian Quadrupel. This beer was distinctly Belgian in aroma and taste, with caramel, dark fruits, and chocolate notes finishing slightly boozy and dry.
I saved for last the Bishop's Barrel No. 1, a Bourbon-barrel-aged Russian Imperial Stout that was the biggest in body and highest in alcohol. This beer was fantastic when it first came out and will get better with even more age on it. It might just be my favorite Saint Arnold beer, but don't tell Divine Reserve 10.
I asked sous chef Michael O'Connor if V&A had plans to repeat the burger and beer special. He didn't say they'd do another pairing with burgers, but he did add that there are plans for some of the other rare beers in their cellar. With the great response the special received, I wouldn't be surprised if we see another event soon. Maybe there will be another V&A beer dinner like the ones they've hosted in the upstairs private dining area. A girl can dream.