Last week, Smashburger hosted a burger and beer pairing dinner to celebrate both the recent opening of their Manhattan location (right next to the Empire State Building) and the start of National Burger Month. Founder Tom Ryan, craft beer consultant Chris Spradley, and filmmaker/ burger aficionado George Motz were on hand to share their knowledge alongside several of Smashbuger’s local specialties paired with beers from their region.
“100 years ago, balls of beef were smashed onto a grill, and there’s your smash burger,” explained Motz. “It gives a consistent flavor, and goes great with a beer!” Ryan spoke of the beauty of “one burger for one beer,” and underlined Smashburger’s commitment to reflecting local flavors in both their food and craft beer selection. Added Spradley: “Craft beer with craft food is all about letting the flavors bring out the best qualities in both, whether they complement or contrast with each other."
After the brief speeches, we were taken to burger heaven. First up was the New Yorker burger, featuring cheddar cheese, fresh spinach, and a tasty peppercorn garlic aioli paired with Sixpoint’s Sweet Action. The bitterness from the hops and spinach worked well together, leaving the cheddar, brioche bun, meat and sweet maltiness of the beer to work together and make you just want more. Other standouts from the seven courses included the Colorado burger with green chilies baked into the bun and pepper jack cheese accentuated by New Belgium’s Ranger IPA (a rare treat for us New Yorkers), and the Windy City burger (pictured), its rich mix of spicy mustard, pretzel bun, cheddar, onion rings, and burger taking Goose Island’s Honkers Ale to new levels of tastiness. It’s worth noting that throughout the dinner, there was no need for ketchup. These burgers stand on their own. To top it all off, Oreo milkshakes were served for dessert.
The tasting was a great intro to what Smashburger is all about. While slightly disappointed that all these local favorites aren’t on the regular New York menu, we were excited to find out that they could be available on Smashburgers “secret menu,” which had us intriguerd. Either way, the menu is top notch in its own right, and with local beers like Kelso and Captain Lawrence on draft, Smashburger is definitely worth a visit. Locations in Times Square and South Street Seaport are opening soon, with others to follow.