Jan. 23 2014 07:40 PM

Bacon burgers and beer or bust

The Flamin’ Hot burger and a Hess Brewing Venator
Photo by Ian Cheesman

I remember when I first heard about Slater's 50/50. It was at a time when the Internet was riding the bacon hype-train as only the Internet can. Gone were the days of relegating the cured meat to the periphery of the breakfast plate; bacon was now positioned as both the filler and crust of choice in all culinary walks of life. It made the notion of a hamburger patty that was 50-percent bacon by volume seem more inevitable than revolutionary. It would likely be delicious, as well, but still inevitable. I was positive that Slater's 50/50 was just a passing fad, as sure as Apple's imminent demise and America's enduring embrace of Mel Gibson.

Smash-cut to present, these purveyors of a meat orgy betwixt brioche buns continue to thrive (with plans to add a location in San Marcos in late spring), and I've retained my crown as the world's shittiest futurist. Still, despite my naysaying, they kindly invited me to their Liberty Station location (2750 Dewey Road, Suite 193, in Point Loma).

I made my way past the reception desk and headed into the bar. Or rather, I tried to, but there was a massive, shimmering burger statue in my way. It occurred to me that while many eateries may tout their passion for burgers, Slater's 50/50 was willing to flout the Second Commandment to drive the point home. I appreciate that kind of gusto.

Side-stepping the gilded burger god, I came upon the altar that mattered most to me: a bar boasting about 100 beer taps. Even across the room, I could see it was awash with options from Avery, Stone, Bear Republic and Hess, illustrating a strong gravity to craft brew from all over creation. Closer inspection revealed a comprehensive selection of styles with solid representatives within each. To me, there are few sweeter feelings than staring at a tap list and feeling honestly conflicted over what I want.

Having an absurd number of taps is a good indicator of how serious Slater's 50/50 is about its beer, but it's not the only one. All staff who deal with the taps are Cicerone-certified beer servers, assuring some fluency in beer styles and quality control. They've even been certified for delivering the "perfect pint" of Guinness, an elaborate pour specifying the angle of delivery, the optimal settling time, etc. Even if it's just marketing gloss, I appreciate any bar giving a beer ritual due consideration.

The burgers are a wonderland unto themselves, more varied and grandiose than I expected. Combine that with the catalog of taps and you've got yourself a food-pairing playground. For example, the Peanut Butter & Jellousy [sic] burger craves something to cut through the fat without a jarring bitterness, suggesting a smoky porter or a boozy stout of some sort. On the flipside, The Flamin' Hot burger requires a beer that pairs thoughtfully with magma, so I'd put it up against a hoppy imperial red. 

Slater's 50/50's eclectic burgers and dizzying list of beers may intimidate, but be bold. Even the shoddiest pairing attempt will still result in the delivery of a beer and a bacon-burger. That can't ever really go wrong.

Write to ianc@sdcitybeat.com and editor@sdcitybeat.com. Ian blogs at iancheesman.wordpress.com and you can follow him on Twitter @iancheesman.


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