It's Smashburger and I helped!

I love when I get the opportunity to taste things before the rest of the world - why? Because then I get to give you the sneak peek of what to get when you go! I want to take the guesswork out of your dining experience and this time - I give you a sneak peek and behind-the-scenes look at Smashburger

On hand was Smashburger founder Tom Ryan - which, come on, is pretty cool to learn about a business from the man that started it! Tom said that he wanted to make a restaurant that had the best burgers and the best beers. 

So in each market - they select craft brewers to serve and pair with. Tom actually lived in Cincinnati  previously and he knew his choice would be Christian Moerlein. This tasting was to announce a special pairing menu of Moerlein beer & and Smashburgers. On hand from Moerlein was Richard Dube, the brewmaster for Christian Moerlein.

And then - the food started a comin'! We started out with their signature Smashfries and sweet potato fries...I've had both of these many times before - so I really didn't indulge much - I knew I had a load of food coming - so I made sure to pace myself.

There were quite a few bloggers (and spouses) at the event - which was really fun to mingle with! Tom & Richard were up front - explaining more and more about what they're doing and what we were eating and drinking! 

Next up were vegetable frites and haystack onions. I liked both of these better than the regular fries - the vegetables are flash fried - and served with some mighty fine ranch!

Each burger was paired with a Moerlein beer and Tom & Richard shared multiple times how "rough" an afternoon that pairing meeting was and I can imagine. I want that meeting on my calendar: 2pm drink & eat for a few hours!

Also - something I didn't know what that the Moerlein Lager House offers tours of their brewery for $10 - which does include 2 beer tokens.

But let's get started with those burgers...first up was the Classic Smashburger with American cheese, SMASH sauce, ketchup, lettuce, tomato, pickle and onion on an egg bun. And just fyi - the egg bun - HAS NO EGG! (who knew?) This was paired with the Lager House Helles. The Helles is a fairly light beer with a slightly toasted flavor and was by far my favorite.

The burger was great - it was great to start with their Classic. Larry had a hard time stopping at just 1/4 of the sandwich! I kept saying - PACE YOURSELF!

Next up was the Mushroom & Swiss - sauteed baby portabella mushrooms, mayo and aged swiss on an egg bun. This was paired with the Barbarossa Dark Lager. Not surprisingly, the darkness of the beef and mushrooms was a good pair for the dark lager.

I wasn't a fan of the beer but it turned out to be Larry's favorite - shockingly - the burger was his favorite as well! Why so shocking? Um he hates mushrooms! There were a few people that said the same thing, "We don't like mushrooms but we love this burger!" I loved it too - but I'm a mushroomaholic.

Next up, the BBQ, Bacon and Cheddar Burger combined with the OTR Ale. The burger has bbq sauce, applewood-smoked bacon, cheddar and haystack onions. The beer was a good match because of the hopiness of the OTR.

For me the OTR is too bitter - but I could see the pairing. Interesting fact too is that they customize the sauces depending on markets. So for OH/KY, we get a mix of a Kansas and Texas sauce.

More of that customization was up next with the Buckeye Burger! This comes with fried pepper rings, haystack onions, American cheese, lettuce, tomato and onion. This was paired with the Exposition Vienna Lager with a rich malt flavor to go with the rich meatiness of the burger.

Interesting here too with Smashburger is that they have a different specialty burger in each market: Chicago has something with a pretzel bun, Minneapolis an onion bun, etc...

I think of all the burgers - I was boring and loved the Classic Smash - it's traditional for them but it's very tasty. Next up we had some of their cow alternatives.

The Spicy Baja Black Bean burger was up next. It was really interesting because rather than using some pre-made black bean burger from a food vendor - they make their own! They serve this with jalapenos, guacamole, pepper jack, lettuce, tomato, onion and chipotle mayo on a spicy chipotle bun. They paired this with the Northern Liberties IPA. This bitter beer stands up to all the spicy that is being thrown at you from the burger.

And let me say - if you like spicy - GET THIS BURGER. While it's not a traditional burger - this sucker will kick your butt with all that spicy! It was too much for me.

And then we moved onto the chicken - they have the same smash on their chicken as they do their burgers. Very thin and very juicy - that's what we were in for.

First up was the Classic Chicken paired again with the Barbarossa - which I thought was odd to have a dark beer with chicken - but it went well with it. I liked it more paired with this chicken.

The Classic Chicken is served with lettuce, tomato, pickle, red onion and mayo on a multi-grain bun. This chicken is extremely juicy! I couldn't believe a piece of chicken this thin could still have flavor?! Good stuff!

Lastly - was the Avocado Club Chicken paired with the OTR Ale. This was the chicken topped with fresh avocado, applewood smoked bacon, lettuce, tomato, ranch and mayo on a mutli-grain bun. I really liked this as well - but duh - bacon, avocado and ranch - what's not to like?!

And after all of that food - what more could there be? Oh...just wait! 

How about a shake sample? Sure! They gave us a sample of the strawberry and I have to say - this was the best shake I've had in a LONG time. I will DEFINITELY 100% be getting this next time I go! (Ya hear that Raybuck - best shake! - My coworker loves him some shakes.) They also have vanilla, chocolate, Oreo, Nutter Butter and Butterfinger.

Then for the really exciting part and what I was most looking forward to...

Tom was going to teach US how to make a Smashburger!!!!

Their "smash" technique allows them to cook chicken and burgers in half the time - which helps them serve you faster without sacrificing taste or quality! 

They even have these fun forged metal smashers to make the burgers and chicken - want one for yourself? Um - they're $300+ go for it!

While teaching us the magic, I was reading up on Tom and turns out he is the man that came up great food marketing ideas like Stuffed Crust Pizza, the Dollar Menu, Fruit & Yogurt Parfait and - WAIT FOR IT - MCGRIDDLES!!! Seriously - he deserves a medal of honor. Tom - I am in your debt forever.

So after being taught by the master, I got to try my hand at making my own Smashburger and...

I rocked that sh!t! Seriously - I made a great Smashburger...the guys on the line even offered me a job should I choose to leave the glamour of advertising ;-)

All in all - it was a really fun night - hanging out with bloggers, eating burgers, drinking some new beers and shakes and learning how to make my own Smashburger! Be sure to stop soon and try the new Moerlein pairings!

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