By the end of the weekend, I found that Miami – or at least South Beach – was largely a beer desert. I futilely tried to stock up before a Saturday morning fishing trip, and the bars only served the usual suspects, aside from the Dominican Presidente pilsener which we don’t get in Texas. A Whole Foods in Coral Cables had been suggested, but we were in town for a bachelor party, so we didn’t stray too far from the Collins Ave. strip, and weren’t going to go traipsing all over town in search of beer. But in researching spots for the trip, I had come across Zane Lamprey’s Drinking Made Easy episode in Miami in which they visited the Burger & Beer Joint. I love places with straightforward names.
It was a beautiful afternoon by the time our whole crew had assembled, so the packed patio would have been appealing, but after a longer than anticipated walk, we were happy to sit in the AC. The Burger & Beer Joint offers just what it says it does, an array of gourmet burgers and an impressive beer selection. It was getting late in the afternoon, and we were pretty hungry, so we put in an order of mini corndogs and perused the beer list. They only had a few draft options, but close to 100 bottled beers. I was on a mission to try beer I couldn’t get back home, so I went straight for the local Cigar City Brewing out of Tampa, and their Jai Alai IPA. It poured a nice copper color, with an immediate aroma and taste of citrusy hop bitterness. It finished relatively smooth though, and at 7.5% ABV, it’s very nearly a Double IPA. The Hebrew National mini franks in their cornmeal batter with a mustard blend dipping sauce whet our appetites for the burgers to come.
There are a number of chef-created options on the burger menu, which makes ordering easy. Like the popular Thunder Road, an Angus beef burger topped with pork belly bacon, or, if you aren’t susceptible to sticker shock, the Stairway to Heaven, featuring wagyu beef topped with pan-seared foie gras and a black truffle demi glace. I was tempted to get the Sympathy for the Devil, with buffalo chili, sharp cheddar, and habanero sauce – if only I could have ordered Karbach’s Sympathy for the Lager to go with it. In the end, perhaps counter-intuitively, because I couldn’t decide, I ended up building my own. Angus beef topped with smoked gouda on a bed of arugula (I’m addicted) with cilantro-cucumber on an onion roll, and a side of tempura-battered onion rings. Sticking with IPA, I also ordered a 2X IPA from Southern Tier, another east coast brewery from western New York. At a strong 8.2% ABV, this was another excellent, grapefruity, hop forward Double IPA that I can’t get in Texas. The burger was cooked to a juicy pink medium-rare, seasoned deftly, and the toasted onion roll was crispy enough on the face to stand up to the juices while remaining soft throughout. The peppery arugula added a nice touch, if I do say so myself, and the hefty onion rings were thick and crunchy, savory on the outside with the mildly sweet onion inside. The only thing I eyed with envy on my companions plates were the duck fat fries that had been just begging to be ordered. A couple of purloined potatoes proved to be soft on the inside with a rich, fatty yet crispy exterior that was pure indulgence.
After a late lunch of this magnitude, we really weren’t all that hungry by the time our reservation at the Dutch, inside the W Hotel, rolled around. Serendipitously, the restaurant specializes in seafood, so we were able to keep it light. I was glad to have found the Burger & Beer Joint, and if you ever find yourself in South Beach looking for some good craft beer, this is your spot.