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Beer & Burgers: Ellicottville Brewing Company

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Fall Festival Lager Complements Lamb Burger

By The Usual Gang of Idiots

This week you’ll hear from another voice from the Usual Gang of Idiots, the Aviator. Yes, he actually knows  how to fly a plane … and a helicopter.

This past weekend the Aviator and I (Cranky Pants) escaped from our significant others and headed to Ellicottville for some well-deserved guy time. This time our destination was Ellicottville Brewing Company.

Every time I go to EBC, I try to order a beer that I’ve never had before. I admit that it’s getting more difficult — what with my frequent trips over to Ellicottville and the availability of EBC’s fine brew at my local supermarket — but this time it was easy.

They have a new brew out just in time for Fall Festival called, strangely enough, Fall Festival. I hope they decide to brew this for an extended period. It’s an extremely drinkable, well-balanced lager. It starts crisp with a malty finish. It’s the sort of beer that I could see enjoying with my friends as we hang out by the pool in the late summer, early fall days. So much so, I purchased a six-pack on our way out!

The beer I chose to have with my burger was Black Hops, a dark IPA. It has all the hops bitterness that a hophead would love, but the dark roasted malt smooths it out. It’s like a more polite version of their fine Stainless Steel Obsession.

To complement the Black Hops, I ordered the English Pub Burger, a juicy beef patty topped with caramelized onions, bacon and cheddar cheese with a horseradish bleu cheese sauce on the side. It was great! It came with a side of fries that just might be the best in Ellicottville. The combination was more than enough to satisfy even my copious appetite. The Aviator and I had a very enjoyable lunch — and I thought that we were very well behaved considering that we’re very rarely allowed out by ourselves.

As the Aviator, I have a firm rule: Never fly to EBC, because I’m never quite sure if I’m stopping in for some food and adding a beer or stopping in for some beer and adding some food. Regardless, I enjoy both every time. And there’s nothing better than a grilled beef burger … or is there?

The traditional beef burger menu has been supplemented by newcomers like the veggie burger and turkey burger. And at EBC, we have the lamb burger. Like most burgers, it comes with the usual accoutrements, but the meat is a blend of lamb and beef. The pure beef burger lover might not be impressed. But if you like lamb, I think you will find the blend a nice alternative to the routine flavor of a regular burger.

I ordered mine medium and it was tasty, but I think if I ordered another I would get it medium rare, which is really the best way to enjoy any burger (or any meat for that matter).

The real treat was the fries that came with it. Sprinkled with salt and garlic, they were the perhaps the best fries I’ve ever had. I normally enjoy ketchup on my fries, but there was no ketchup on the table — and I didn’t ask for any. These fries would have been spoiled by adding anything.

And what about the beer? I also went with the Fall Festival. I had two! Normally, if I were having two beers I would sample two different ones. But I had never had the Fall Festival and I wanted to see how a second tasted. Some beers taste better and better as you go and others have a flavor that seems to get old or mundane after the first one. But this is nicely balanced beer that would probably suit any palette. No robust or harsh flavor, yet not too light or bland either. The first and second tasted great. I think even a person who was not a frequent beer drinker would enjoy this one.

All in all, a very enjoyable lunch, especially considering I was in the company of Mr. Cranky Pants.

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