Beer and Burgers have been perfect companions for all of human’s culinary history (at least, the history worth remembering). Whether you’re at the ballpark or a friend’s BBQ, it is a no-brainer pairing. I couldn’t tell you how these two consumables—both great on their own—so effectively tap into our epicurean delights when combined. It is a union humankind has loved since the first mug of fermented barley washed down a platter of grilled chuck. Our genetics state that we are predisposed to crave such indulgences. Let loose and indulge! Feast! Feast!
Wait! Better idea – abstain. Save the pleasure for the right moment and really make it count. Hold out at least until this Friday, April 5, when CHUBurger, the fourth restaurant in the Oskar Blues Brewery family, opens to the public in Longmont. Believe me, once you cram one of these burgers in your gullet and follow it with a premium craft beer you’ll be glad you waited.
Like the other Oskar Blues restaurants the focus of CHUBurger is on fresh, locally-sourced food. Most of which comes from the Hops & Heifers farm (just 8 miles from CHUBurger) or one of its sister farms around the state. These are cows and pigs that live a natural, healthy life and, completing the burger/beer circle, are fed spent grains. They live a happy life right until they’re turned to meat. And then they make our lives happy.
The restaurant features four headlining burgers: CHUBurger, BUFFburger made with fresh bison meat, OMEGAburger made with sustainable wild Coho salmon, and BERKburger made with Hops & Heifers heritage Berkshire pigs. When I attended the media event, I had the BERKburger with a side of Mile High Fries and a Märzen—a porkalicious but filling combination. As I sat down and dug into my meal I noticed an odd behavior in my media colleagues; every other journalist at the event was circling their food with an artist’s eye, positioning every fry, framing their food with their cameras—doing everything except eat their food! C’mon, people! I know this is your career but you’re at a restaurant owned by a brewery; if you’re not eating and drinking then you’re missing the point. Maybe they were bashful or maybe they thought eating on the job was beneath them but I’ll tell you this much: I write for Denver off the Wagon and if don’t experience it then I don’t write about it. Go ahead and search for that perfect shot while your food gets cold (which is just wasteful and insulting to the chef, by the way), I’ll be over here, buns-deep in a pork sandwich.
In terms of beer selection, there are draft and bottle/can options and even though this is an Oskar Blues restaurant, other breweries are represented as well. There will always be one tap devoted to a small, local microbrewery (it was Bootstrap Brewing when I visited). The representatives at Oskar Blues said they could remember years ago when they were the obscure start-up brewery and they wanted to provide a leg-up for breweries currently in that position.
In keeping with the sustainable nature of CHUBurger, the interior is decorated with wood from an old Wyoming snow fence, the front of the bar is clad in metal from an old freight train, and the top of the bar is from the floor of that freight train. If you’ve come down with a sudden case of Pac-Man fever, there’s also an old school arcade in the corner. All in all, CHUBurger is a “craft casual” joint where beer geeks can sip some suds, meet up with some friends, and watch the game in a welcoming atmosphere.
Oskar Blues doesn’t want to open a restaurant that is a significant distance from their brewery since the spent grains are an integral part of their livestock’s diet. However, now that there’s a brewing facility in Brevard, North Carolina, East Coast beer geeks may see something like CHUBurger in their neck of the woods in a few years.
If you’re looking for a higher quality incarnation of the beer/burger combination head to 1225 Ken Pratt Boulevard in Longmont this Friday. The beer is craft, the burger is raised locally, and the times to be had are good. Eat up and drink up, my friends.