Burgers & Beer 2015 by LA Weekly
On Saturday, August 8, 2015, LA Weekly held its first Burgers & Beer event at the LA Memorial Coliseum. 40+ restaurants and 30+ breweries were represented. I tried a little over a dozen burgers, mostly in sliders form, and around a dozen beer samples, poured into a shot glass-sized plastic beer mug.
For being an inaugural event, I thought it was run very well. Free waters were provided by Icelandic Glacial, with soft drinks by Jarritos. And of course attendees also quenched their thirst with beer. While the event didn’t sell out, it had healthy attendance, and lines for drinks were light. Since restaurants were cooking their burgers onsite, the food lines waxed and waned depending on whether a fresh batch of burgers were being prepped or just served.
The longest lines at the event were for Animal‘s Boner Burger, with a heady mixture of ground beef and marrow for the patty, and Myke’s Cafe‘s Snicker Burger, with—you guessed it—Snickers bars stuffed inside their hamburger patties. I really liked Animal’s, though parts of the outside of mine were a little too charred. The Snicker Burger was undoubtedly gimmicky, but it actually wasn’t too weird, with mostly a mildly sweet peanut flavor coming through.
Animal's Boner Burger, ground beef and marrow, jack cheese, marble rye, caramelized onions, poblano chili, 420 sauce. #bonerburger #bonemarrow #marrow #burger #animalrestaurant @jonathanwhitener @animalvinny @jonshook @jonandvinnydelivery #burgersandbeer #laburgers #laweekly @lacoliseum @laweekly #theoffalo #offaloburgersbeer
Myke's Cafe's Snicker Burger: Snickers and bacon inside hamburger patty, topped w/cheddar, sliced green apple, lettuce, more bacon, honey habanero. #snickerburger #snickersburger #snickers #bacon #mykescafe @mykescafe #burgersandbeer #laburgers #laweekly @lacoliseum @laweekly #theoffalo #offaloburgersbeer
On the drink front, while I’m not the biggest fan of hoppy beer, I found that in small sample sizes, I can tolerate them much better. Still, you would not find an IPA among my favorite beers of the event, which included Ommegang‘s Rare Vos, an amber ale, and Phantom Carriage‘s Broadacres, a wild Berliner weisse. Honorable mention goes to Lagunitas Sucks, which was indeed hoppy, though perhaps I just liked it for its name.
Back to burgers, people kept asking me on Instagram what my favorite one was. Having thought about it the rest of the weekend, I’m still not sure, but my top three were Vaka Burger‘s Truffle Burger, Barrel & Ashes‘ Barrel Burger Slider, and Plan Check‘s Mini Chef’s Favorite Burger.
Plan Check's Mini Chef's Favorite Burger, bacon, cheese, cheddar crisp, fried quail egg, ketchup leather. #chefsfavorite #slider #bacon #cheese #cheddarcrisp #friedquailegg #friedegg #quailegg #ketchupleather #plancheck @plancheck #burgersandbeer #laburgers #laweekly @lacoliseum @laweekly #theoffalo #offaloburgersbeer
Signs describing a particular restaurant’s dish were sporadic, one of my pet peeves, with some stands having descriptive signage, and others having none. Also, I don’t think a directory was handed out, unlike at Tacolandia. While the number of participants were not as unwieldy as that LA Weekly event, I couldn’t find a few participants, like Local Table, which I know was there because I saw Instagram posts of their offerings, and The Independence, which I didn’t see any posts about, so I’m not sure if they were there or not. Hamburguesas Punta Cabras had a stall, but it sat empty as that restaurant recently shuttered (Tacos Punta Cabras is still alive and well, and now open 7 days a week).
One thing I found strange for an event that cost anywhere from $65 for a pre-sale GA ticket to $100 for a VIP ticket at the door was that the three dessert vendors, Artesana Pops, CVT Soft Serve, and Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, were charging for their items. This was also the case at Tacolandia. It felt a bit incongruous when all the other food and drink were all-inclusive, but perhaps they have a different arrangement with LA Weekly that require them to charge.
All in all, I really enjoyed the event. The scale was approachable, the crowds were manageable, the variety of beer was fantastic. The only real issue I had was the lack of variety on the food end. No, I wouldn’t expect tacos or fried chicken at a burger festival, but there’s only so many beef sliders on brioche with caramelized onions that I could eat before one burger blends into another other. Aside from Badmaash‘s lamb burger, and El Cristalazo‘s shrimp burger, the protein options were nearly all beef, or combinations of beef and pork. I do not recall seeing a single turkey burger or any vegetarian options, like portobello mushrooms or veggie burgers. If they do this event again, I hope LA Weekly encourages the participants to vary their offerings a bit more next year.