SUMMERLICIOUS 2019: Big, beefy burger @ Batch

Now, I’m no stranger to paying 38 bucks for a burger, so when I saw that Batch was serving up its signature Batch burger, plus two other courses, for just 23 dollars, I was all over that like beef on a bun, bro! Their Summerlicious menu starts off with apps like salad, tomato soup, peas on toast…or these fishy flavour nuggets in Flavourtown, fried squid:

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This I-can’t-believe-it’s-not-calamari comes served on a bed of basil and a smoked tartar sauce, and the breading’s got a bit of a kick. They were quite tasty, but aren’t calamari supposed to be round?

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Now, me and this burger are a match made in Flavourtown Heaven, aka Austin, Texas. Patty is nice and thick, cooked to not-quite medium, and topped with swiss cheese, pickles and a bit of lettuce — the meat to veggie ratio on this bun is just the way I like it. And then you’ve got a great big pile of some of the thickest fries I’ve even seen — these are like three-bite French fries, bro!!!

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Now, you know the first rule of Summerlicious is “Always save room for dessert,” and I’m definitely gonna go with the most chocolatey thing on the menu:

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This chocolate tart was packed with dark-chocolate richness and some hazelnut crunch, but I don’t really get the frozen orange stuff on top. (Mine was a little pulpy.) Still, I gotta say, it totally satisfied my sweet tooth!!!

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Of course, because Batch is a craft brewpub, you KNOW I’m not gonna order a Coors Light, bro! This Creemore Springs Boundless IPA was a nice balance of hops and citrus, with just a little bit of sweetness at the end. Maybe they couldda poured some of this on that chocolate tart instead…

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3 meats, 1 bun @ Black Hog BBQ

Now, I don’t always go looking for BBQ — sometimes, BBQ just finds me. We’re hanging out in downtown Frederick at Black Hog BBQ, this local chain with three locations in Maryland. This place has been serving up all kinds of smoked meat since 2007, but I’m only gonna eat here once, so I gotta make sure to get as many as I can shove down my piehole, bro!!!

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So, we’re starting off with an order of BBQ pork fries — these are like cheese fries gone wild in Flavourtown! They take fresh-cut potatoes, smother ’em in cheddar, and then pile bacon and pulled pork on top??? Shut the front, back and side doors, bro!!!

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But now it’s time for the main event. They call this sammy the Triple Meat Mofo, and it’s a baaaad muthafucka! You’ve got beef brisket, pulled pork, country ham, swiss cheese, grilled onions and BBQ mayo, all stuffed between two buns. The beef was nice and tender, the pork was fall-aparty…but that country ham is what makes it, with the thickness to break up this flavour volcano!All this and a side of ooey, gooey mac and cheese for just $12.50!? Don’t tase me, bro!!!

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Of course, when you’re in Frederick, you’re in Flying Dog Country, so I had to check out this little feel-good hit of the summer, Numero Uno Mexican Lager. This light, easy-drinking beer is brewed with agave and lime zest, so it’s packing a lot more flavour than a Corona. And believe it or not, but after the pork fries, the three-story sammy, mac ‘n cheese and a couple of these, I actually did NOT have room for dessert!!!!!!!

Word to ye Olde Mother! (Olde Mother Brewing Co)

So, we’re hanging out at Olde Mother Brewing Co, this funky¬† little craft brewery in Frederick, Maryland. You won’t find any crabs and/or Old Bay here, but they are coming up with some pretty funky flavours, like a steam beer, fruited wheat beer and a sour double IPA. Then there’s this Mexican fiesta de cerveza, which they call La Bamba:

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Now this beer is pretty funkalicious. It’s brewed with lime juice, so you don’t need a lime wedge, but then there’s the secret ingredient that makes it — poblano peppers. No, it’s not spicy, but you definitely get the flavour of the peppers in there, which is pretty redonkadonk. Corona ain’t got nothing on La Bamba, chica!!!

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But if you thought that last beer was ridiculous, this one is even more crazy — a strawberries and cream wheat beer. You’ve got the taste of fresh strawberries, and it’s brewed with lactose, so it’s almost like a milkshake IPA, but less hoppy, more fruity. And it’s not even red or anything… Shut the back door!!!

Craft beer ‘n crab cakes @ Brewer’s Alley

So we’re hanging out at Brewer’s Alley, the first-ever gastropub in Frederick, Maryland, where they’ve been serving up their own beers, combined with killer cuisine, since 1996. Everybody in town knows this is the place to be, and it ain’t one of those “craft beer bars” that’s serving up a bunch of beers from local breweries — they’ve actually got their own brewhouse, bro!

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So, we’re starting off with the Hefeweizen, a light, German-style wheat beer with a fruity aftertaste. This beer literally tastes like bananas — and bananas is good!!!

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We’re pairing that with a big ol’ Maryland crab cake, which you can get with veggies for 19 dollars or on a sandwich for 18. Dude, anytime I can pay less and not eat vegetables is a win-win in Flavourtown, bro! This crab is broiled in Old Bay butter — cuz you gotta get the Old Bay in there — and smothered in a creole remoulade sauce. Man, you could put that on a flip-flop, and it would still taste good!!!

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Now, that crab cake sammy was slamtastic, but it ain’t the only renegade of funk in this funky joint — say hello to ma lil’ friend, pork taco pizza. They take pulled pork, lettuce, pico de gallo, diced jalapenos and drizzle it all with crema, erved up on a nice, fluffy crust — shut the back door, bro!!!

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Now, for dessert, we’re chugging down some Two Loves, this crazy unfiltered chocolate ale with liquefied cocoa. Dude, if Guinness is liquid breakfast, then this beer is liquid dessert. There’s so much cocoa here that it’s making me cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs!!!

 

“We can’t stop here, this is beer country!” — a tour of Flying Dog Brewery

So, we’re hanging out at Flying Dog Brewery down in Frederick, Maryland, about an hour north of Baltimore. These guys are known for their labels, designed by Hunter Thompson’s main main Ralph Steadman, and for brews with names like Doggie Style and Raging Bitch. Now, I’m no stranger to Doggie Style — I chugged a few last time I was in Bodymore — so when they offered to give me the grand tour, I was all over that like queso on Guy Fieri’s mustache, bro!!!

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Now, this is where the magic happens — they take the hops, water and barley, and they mix it all up! They gave us some barley to taste, and while it doesn’t taste like much on its own, once it’s run through the lauter tun, it starts to get the job done…

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99 barrels of beer on the wall, 99 barrels of beer…

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Fun fact: when they make beer, it creates a whole buncha CO2, which they have to funnel out into a bucket. You couldn’t triple-dog dare me to chug that bucket, bro!!!

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Behind this door is the quality assurance lab — man, how do I get that job???

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This here is their bottling machine — what, you thought they did it by hand? Actually, the reason Flying Dog moved to Frederick from Colorado is because the old owners of the brewery left this baby behind!

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Of course, the best thing about the tour is the beer. Not only do they give you a few samples along the way, but at the end, there’s a Choose Your Own Beerventure flight waiting for you at the bar. For my four beers, I went with:

  • Ain’t Nothing But a G Thang hazy pale ale (5.7%)
  • Brut Reynolds brut IPA (5.7%)
  • Woody Creek White (4.7%)
  • Dead Rise Old Bay Gose (5.7%)

Dunno why, but they like to end their beers in .7%. While they were all quite tasty, the major highlight was the Old Bay Gose:

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Now, Old Bay is pretty much the chicken base and garlic salt of Maryland. They put that shit on everything — crabs, fries, crab dip, crab fries, chicken wings… you name it! And while I don’t actually see any of it floating in my beer, you can totally taste the Old Bay. Cuz what better way to wash down some Old Bay than with even more Old Bay, bro????

Too much meat on this pizza, bro?

So, we’re hanging out at Valens Restaurant, this funky little joint in Baldwin Village, where they’re serving up Italian food and other comfort classics. This place has got a lucky 13 different kinda of pizza on the menu, but when I saw the Carnivoro, I knew it was a match made in Flavourtown Heaven:

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Do NOT adjust your screen settings, cuz we’ve got not one, not two, not three, but four different kinds of meat on that slice, son! First off, there’s chicken, and then you’ve got the holy trinity of pork — pepperoni, sausage AND bacon!!?? Shut the front, back and side doors!!!

Plus there’s a bit of kick from the onions, a little red pepper, and some super-stringy mozza cheese. At $17.95, it’s a little pricier than their other pies, but they definitely don’t shortchange ya on the toppings!

Beer & brats @ Steam Whistle Biergarten

Man, nothing beats an ice-cold beer and a hot, greasy sausage on a summer day! We’re hanging out at the Steam Whistle Biergarten, this funky little food hall inside the Steam Whistle Brewery, just a Vladdy Jr. moonshot away from where the Blue Jays play. And this place is serving up all kinds of German classics, like ham hocks, chicken schnitzel and not one, not two, but three kinds of sausage — along with this classic soft pretzel:

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Now, I was kinda hoping with a supersized pretzel twice as big as my head, like the one I had at Blake Shelton’s bar in Nashville. This was not nearly as huge. But it’s still warm and salty, and the Steam Whistle beer cheese is what makes it! (Not really a fan of the spicy mustard, though…)

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I don’t think you’ll find these German fries anywhere in Munich, but they were still pretty legit, You’ve got deep-fried potater discs, topped with thick chucks of bacon, green onion, and drizzled with donkey sauce — I would eat that any day of the week!!!

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It wouldn’t be a sausage party without bratwurst, bro! This German wiener is coming in hot, topped with a ton of onion flakes(!), arugula(!!) and a mango relish(!!!) on a nice, grilled bun. I could probably pound two or three of these…

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Of course, it wouldn’t be a beer hall without the cerveza. This Von Bugle Munich Lager is brewed using German techniques for that perfect balance between malty and bitter. It even upholds the Bavarian Purity Act…even though it’s brewed in Etobicoke!!!

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Now, I probably shouldn’t go to the Steam Whistle Biergarten and not drink a Steam Whistle. This is their unfiltered pilsner, which tastes a little richer and maltier than the one you get at The Beer Store. I think I like it a bit better…although it’s pretty much still the same beer.