THE EDITOR’S DESK :: Harv’s Burger Bucket List, two Scottish Ales, AND an Imperial IPA!

by Harvey Gold - Dave Daugherty on July 20, 2012

The other day, while thinking I was heading toward some sort of pictorial on local hookers , titled I believe “Akron’s Queens of the Devil Strip”, I found myself, sans such an article, on a site called Akronlife.com.

To my delight, the first thing I spied was a piece on Great Burgers in the area. Akron already sports some old, time tested favorites, like Louie’s, the great North Hill neighborhood blue collar bar and grill off Tallmadge Avenue, and the ever present John Hughes car-hop jernts, Sky-Way and Swensons (once named the best burger in America by Forbes FYI), but this list was all about big, spectacularly fat, juicy, creative, high quality sillyburgers such as what have been whipped up for me by Jimmy Morris at The Lockview … I printed out the article and put it on the fridge..

With cohort Dave in town, we decided this afternoon would be the first step in eliminating one of these burgers on my bucket list, and while at it, we’d have a bit of a session, trying some brews we hadn’t, as of yet, had the chance to sip.

So following nothing in the belly but two cups of coffee, we headed to what was the first on  Akron Life’s blogger, Aaron Fowler’s list,  The Rail on (Travelers Alert) Rte. 18 or W. Market Street at Summit Mall, just a mile east of the I-77 Fairlawn Exit. Noted for using fresh, local ingredients and crazy person burger combos, they also carry a nice commited craft beer list in bottle and on tap. Recently YBN’s pal, brewer Garen Wright, of Buckeye Brewing did a beer clinic at The Rail.

So we started out what was effectively breakfast with Rampant Lion, a nicely balanced Scottish Ale from Little Mountain Brewing Company, located in Kirtland, a small town in N.E. Ohio, up till now most famous for being early headquarters for the Church of Latter Day Saints. At 7%, most definitely an American Craft version of the species, the weight perfect to stand up to what we were about to eat.

CROUCHING BURGER, HIDDEN BACON:

First off, a great bun and a slammin’ big, fresh, juicy, medium rare (as I ordered it) burger, topped with thick sliced local bacon, some pulled pork shoulder, a crispy wonton, and Rail Sauce. Sweet and savory, and sloppy (3 napkins destroyed and a wet nap at the end) and drippy and juicy and awesome, the first bite was the best. I got the great texture of the burger, salty bacon, the contrasting texture of the pork shoulder, a bit of crunch from the wonton and then a sweetness, which came from the Rail Sauce, a red BBQ base with soy, teryaki, if I recall properly, hoisin. Very tasty. As we went forward the various elements of the burger delighted , whether in a uniform bite or as bits and pieces fell out of this giant challenge onto the plate. The wonton got soaked, obviously, but little crisp edge pieces would escape, just as *pilettes of pork shoulder (only a textural contributor to the burger) would drop onto the plate, getting a tasty solo spot in the meal.

I’m accustomed to cheese with my burgers, and yes, it dawned on me a couple bites in that this wasn’t the case here, and while that was a bit awkward for my poor brainpan to filter, this was so overwhelmingly meaty, it was no issue whatsoever. Besides, had I asked them to throw on or in anything additional, they wouldn’t have blinked.

A dill pickle spear and a side of thin, salty fries and we were golden.

But we needed to wash it down. The Rampant Lion was very much the malty, caramely Scottish Ale we would expect, showing a certain sweetness to it, once we started in on the burger, the balance in the sandwich won by the sweetness of the Rail Sauce, the bitter on the back end of the Ale saved the day by offering just enough of an edge. The whole meal was big and brown and lovely.

After a brief break –there aren’t enough hours in the afternoon to completely digest and move on from such a lunch – we dove into a couple brews from some really interesting folks brewing out of Estacada, Oregon. Introduced by the lovely Bennett to her guy, Brave Viking Brewmaster Ken Johnson via his charming YouTube piece, we’ve been looking forward to trying his Fearless brews, hoping he’d give us a YBN related reason to one day come experience the stunning countryside seen in the video, where the Johnsons live and brew and raid small coastal towns in the name of Odin.

Having just received a lovely swag package and a couple 16 oz. cans (yes another fiscally smart and environmentaly aware brewer distributing in cans) a couple days ago, giving the beer a minute to get used to Ohio, we dove in.

First popped was Fearless Mjolnir Imperial IPA. For those familiar with comics, movies, or… duh… actual Norse Mythology, you know Mjolnir is THE Hammer of Thor. It poured with a dense white head, proving a beer with excellent lacing.

Upon drinking, Dave’s first thought, second thought, and third was BITTER and BITTER only, which, if in an IPA, he can be totally satisfied with. This big guy coming with 98 IBUs then, made it extra fine for him, Dave claiming he could taste the bitter all the way down his esophagus.

I tasted citrus, but not the standard issue lemon or grapefruit. My twisted senses ID’d it as an orange suggesting St. Joseph Aspirin for Children, a pretty popular essence and flavor with many, as I recall, and from maybe my second sip on (the first catching nothing but the bitter, just as Dave did) a sweetness that stayed with it throughout… and lingered. This IPA stuck to the tongue with much body. The website claims it, on tap, at 7.7%, Beer Advocate had the can pictured and tabbed it at 8% and our can read 6.9%. In any event, the mouthfeel was big, weighty, sweet, orangy and viscuous enough to really linger on the tongue.

At the end, I was enthralled by the nose coming from the can. While Dave thought it was the classic smell of a working brewery, I detected what my brain interpreted as spice & orange. So Dave liked it because it was uncomplicated, hammering home the fundamental responsibility of any self respecting IPA… bitterness. And I, in contrast, found it to be really interesting. We hope to try it again.

Next up, Fearless Scottish Ale. At 5.3% this was going to be a test. So many craft beers we drink are at a high ABV, but this Scotttish Ale is truer to the way pretty much everyone in the UK drinks. Planning on, at the very least, a few brews, the Brits keep the alcohol level down, usually under 5%, sometimes even under 4%. I’ll be writing more on this when I finish my report on our tour of Europe, England and Scotland the last leg.

Not to digress, the test I refered to, when accustomed to drinking big American craft beer, is to be able to catch and define all the flavor notes in a brew that lacks much of the size alcohol brings to the table. To be sure, a higher alcohol content, I learned on this trip, brings much more to a beer than just the bang for the buck, often amplifying everything the brew has to say. To the end of honing some subtlety  into my tasting skills, I felt pretty good about what I could get from this, Fearless Brewing’s Flagship beer.

It poured a nice creamy head. Dave observed the cloudy rust color. At first sip I observed a nice creamy yet quenching quality. Given the expected malty sweetness, I was a little surprised as the first sip, and first sip only (so that might have been just me), displayed a bit of a sourness on the back of the tongue.

Dave also felt what he thought to be a carbonation a little on the high end, something he finds attractive. I found the vapors coming from the bottom of the can to be heavenly, melted sweet caramel. I can simply see walking into a pub in Edinburgh and ordering up a Fearless Scottish Ale and enjoying it thoroughly, almost as much as my beloved Caledonian 80/ which says, for my part, a great deal.

So yeah, there’s more than just the great air, water, fishing, mountain biking, kayaking, etc. out there in and near Estacada, and we hope to get there to enjoy and tell the story further one day.

* Yes! We at YBN created a new word… pilettes n. petite piles.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Sarah Yates July 21, 2012 at 12:23 am

Little Mountain Brewing Company in Kirtland, Ohio is a must stop if you are traveling East of Cleveland on Hwy 90, it is just a short distance and worth the stop for a quick one. We found Bob on his Web Site.
Sarah from Illinois

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Sarah Yates July 21, 2012 at 12:26 am

Little Mountain Brewing Co. in Kirtland, Ohio Great Place, we found Bob on the WEB site
Sarah from IL.

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k evans July 21, 2012 at 2:59 pm

nice word.

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