Burger and Beer Night Returns
By Marc Donadieu
Glacier City Gazette
Wednesday evenings just got more exciting now that Jack Sprat has begun Burger and Beer Night again. In addition to the regular restaurant menu, the popular, special burger menu is available every Wednesday through the end of February.
The four-burger menu features select dishes to pair with Sprat-poured beers, a combination bringing out complimentary as well as contrasting flavors that enhance the tasting experience. On this evening, No Woman No Cryo IPA by Girdwood Brewing Company (GBC) was pleasantly paired with the Jammin Jerk Burger.
My wife and I were seated at the 5-person bar near the front door where we could watch the careful choreography of the kitchen unfold while sipping our drinks and greeting acquaintances. Seated at the table beside us was GBC Brewer Rory Morenco, his wife and their two young children.
As his family prepared to leave the restaurant, Morenco graciously granted the Gazette a brief interview to describe No Woman No Cryo. The IPA has a unique flavor that reveals an intriguing aspect of the style while appealing to a broad range of tastes. My wife, who typically dislikes the more assertive characteristics of IPA, enjoys No Woman No Cryo.
“This is our take on a New England style IPA,” Marenco said. “The difference between this and a more classic West Coast style, or our house IPAK; we do some mineral additions to the brewing process. That adds mouth feel and creaminess. It makes it super smooth and clean. A whole bunch of hops are added to the brewing process, but they’re all added later. Instead of that upfront, lingering bitterness with your classic IPA, it’s like a juicy, tropical hop punch. It leaves your mouth watering wanting more.”
No Woman No Cryo took People’s Choice Award at the Kenai Beer Fest last month, showing the appeal of this brew. The beer is 7% ABV, but alcohol is barely perceptible in the fascinating flavors mix. The recipe was fine tuned on the second batch brewed.
“This is the third batch,” Morenco said. “It’s basically an exact replica of the second. For the first batch, we enlisted the help of a homebrewer friend from town, Brian Hall. He experimented with this style for years and had it down.”
No Woman No Cryo is an interesting mix of flavors. The fresh, juicy hops taste like a mix of citrus without being too aggressive. The beer is smooth, creamy and balanced, making it very drinkable on its own or with a variety of foods, even a Caesar salad.
Jack Sprat burgers are regularly served with fries unless one chooses a reasonably priced upgrade to yam fries, soup or one of the salads.
My wife and I chose the Caesar salad. The rich, creamy dressing is balanced, with no sharp edges. The croutons add a lightly seasoned, flavorful crunch. Hand shaved strips of lightly nutty Parmigiano-Reggiano top the salad.
The Jammin Jerk Burger makes for a fine pairing with this beer. The Jamaican jerk sauce is an interesting twist that is slathered on the top bun. The slightly sweet sauce is mild and savory with hints of allspice. Surprisingly, no chili pepper could be detected, and it would have been a pleasant feature given the sauce’s traditional reputation for having a peppery bite. A fun alternative could be the offer of mildly spicy sauces.
When biting into the burger, the jerk sauce takes to the palate in a lovely way. The burger is also topped with two slices of grilled pineapple, poblano pepper strips and a roasted garlic mascarpone cheese. There is a wonderful mix of blending flavors with every bite.
Then there is the Mountain Mushroom Burger, which is topped with gruyere, bacon strips, sautéed mushrooms and grilled onions. The ingredients work well together, and small bursts of fresh thyme and rosemary peek through.
Jack Sprat uses all-natural Misty Isles Beef, which is from Washington state and is the same purveyor of the restaurant’s ribeye steaks. The ½-pound beef patty has a clean, fresh flavor that is complimented by char-grilling and quick oven finish.
The trick is to make sure the items added to the burger compliment the taste of seared beef without overwhelming its flavor. The burgers we ate exhibited that quality. Though the Classic Burger was not tasted, the patty topped with cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, red onion and jalapeno aioli is sure to deliver fresh, familiar toppings with a slightly new approach.
The Vegan Black Bean Burger is a ½-pound bean patty with vegan cheese sauce, lettuce, tomato, red onion and sprouts. The Gazette heard reports that the bean burger was fantastic with jerk sauce.
Then a table beside the bar front turned over to a new family and an interesting event occurred.
Rather than sit on the wooden bench and face their parents, a boy and girl, around age five, sat on their knees watching the gourmet ballet in the kitchen. They were silent and utterly enchanted by the swirl of action that was creating dinner before their eyes.
It is certainly fun to watch, and even better to taste.
Starting Fri., Sept 29th, Jack Sprat has Friday Night Flights. Chef Andrew Brown will create a three-course menu paired with fun wines. The Flight will be available with or without the 3-course dinner. Friday Night Flights will be very creative, said owner Frans Weits.
165 Olympic Mountain Loop
Reservations recommended, to go orders welcome