“Sean, I found a beer sampling in the city and,” I didn’t have to say anything more.
The Growler Station is a Mecca for beer. Stocking over 600 types in one location, it was difficult to avoid whiplash as we explored and pointed one another to all of our finds, curiosities, and rare favorites from times past. As part of the tasting, Samuel Adams and Ommegang were there with samples. For $25 we we able to taste different beers from each brewery and received a growler (of our choosing) to take home. Of course, there were giveaways and other fun things.
We knew about Samuel Adams’ involvement when we purchased the tickets, but Ommegang’s appearance was a complete (and pleasant) surprise. Having lived in the Central New York Region and only a half hour from the Ommegang Brewery for a few years, I was certainly no stranger to them or their beers. I had even taken Angel there so she could enjoy a tour herself. Needless to say, their presence only made the night that much more enjoyable for us.
The ‘show’ began with a speech from the Growler Station describing the origins and the method they use to fill their growlers before the floor was passed to Ommegang and finally to Samuel Adams as they each described their companies, an overview of their beer crafting processes, and a description of the suds available for sample.
The next hour was spent tasting the various offerings, further exploring the brews available for sale, and nabbing as much swag as possible (bottle openers, glasses, and the like). Then, the real fun started as they began reading off names for a raffle.
Samuel Adams Utopias® is a rare and unusual, bourbon cask aged beer that we have seen sell for as much at $600 a bottle and, while they weren’t giving out bottles, I won a taste!
Thanks to much begging, pleading and Angel’s kind and generous spirit, I was able to secure a brief sip of the spirit myself and, while I would never spend the money on a bottle of my own, I could easily taste why others would. With deep and distinct layers of flavors, the aged and incredibly strong beer (27% ABV) has a sweet and slightly fruity flavor that was somewhat reminiscent of a brandy.
Not to be outdone by their Samuel Adams counterparts, Ommegang brought with them a bottle of their own beer that is not, nor will it ever be, available for purchase… and, as luck would have it, a friend of ours won a taste and allowed Angel and I the honor of sampling it. Unlike the Utopias, this had a distinct rich beer flavor that all but completely hid how incredibly strong it was.
Amazed that we were lucky enough to sample each of the specialty beers, we decided it was time to pack up our growlers, promotional gifts, and purchases and head out for some food.
Even though there was a place just a few blocks away that has been on our “must haves” list, the Joy Burger Bar peaked my curiosity, admittedly, based on their closer location and their website.
Any questions I had regarding Angel’s burger choice for the week quickly vanished when we arrived. Everything from using playing cards instead of order numbers, to the 50’s style microphone they used when food was ready, added to their fun blend of retro and hip styling.
One look, and the choose ‘your-own-adventure’ style menu had me at a loss on what to order. It’s bad enough when there are 10 options, but it always trips me up when they make you pick each layer of your order. I always have a fear that the toppings won’t go together as well as I imagine they will.
Taking it one step at a time, I ordered:
Step 1-THE BURGERS – How hungry are you? Are you really thinking about turkey? HELLS NO!
- MUNCH 3 Oz.
- MIDI 5 Oz.
- MAXI 8 Oz.
Step 2- SAUCES – Cheese was next, but the sauce is the flavor so I decided to start here….
- GARLIC MAYO
- SPICY MAYO
- DIJON MUSTARD,
- SPICY MANGO CHUTNEY
- HONEY MUSTARD
- SWEET CHILI
Step 3- THE CHEESE – Now what goes with…
- FRESH MOZZARELLA
Step 4- FREE TOPPING – Easy place to make a rookie mistake and order something odd just because it’s free.
- SAUTEED ONION
Step 5- EXTRA $ TOPPINGS – These are all great sounding, but ‘cha-ching, cha-ching’ for each one your order. So, choose wisely….
- PORTOBELLO MUSHROOM
- ROASTED PEPPERS
- SUN-DRIED TOMATOES
I ended up ordering a 5 oz “Midi” with pesto, fresh mozzarella, lettuce, tomato and portabello mushroom and a side of batatas (sweet potatoes sliced into thick chips with maple syrup on the side). Perfect!
The bun was a bit soft and squishy, but the pesto had the strong basil flavor I was yearning for and the patty was cooked as ordered with just the right amount of char on the outside and juicy pinkness on the in.
The batatas, were a Must Have!!!
For myself, I ordered a Maxi with chimichuri, Swiss cheese, and sauteed onions. Like Angel’s, the meat was cooked wonderfully and, while we both enjoyed the strong basil flavor of her pesto better, the chumichuri sauce was another delightful change from the standard toppings.
There are numerous signs state saying, “the sauces make the difference” and our experience only solidified that statement. I’d love to return to try them all.
We often find ourselves in top rated places wondering how they received such high marks. This was the complete opposite. Joy Burger Bar was found based on it’s location and Angel decided to go there because of their website. How this place isn’t more well known or on top burger lists is beyond me. While not perfect, it was a mighty fine burger that deserves some high praise and recognition.