On the Burger Trail: The Draft Burger at Bier & Burger
In this series, we'll be hiking the burger trail to find the latest, greatest and most delicious burgers in Milwaukee. Click here for an explanation of the criteria used to rate each burger. Where have we been? Check out the complete catalog of burger reviews here.
Bier & Burger
5171 S. 108th St., Hales Corners
Sometimes a restaurant's name makes it a clear candidate for the Burger Trail. Such is the case with Bier & Burger, a new Hales Corners bar and restaurant that opened its doors last November. Its name is a salute to both Milwaukee's German beer barons and half-pound smashed prime Angus steak patties. And when you visit, you'll find both craft beer and imports, along with a menu filled with appetizers, sandwiches, salads, burgers and numerous dishes that give a nod to German classics (think pretzels, schnitzel and wursts).
The dining room is bright and modern with rustic wooden paneling and a combination of modern booths and low-top tables. On the walls hang multiple televisions and full color photos of ... you guessed it: beer and burgers. The bar area features a large oblong bar and additional seating, along with a colorful mural and beer signs.
The burger menu showcases around 15 options. I went with the most basic: the Draft Burger, which comes as basic as can be. It's a half-pound patty on brioche with lettuce. I added American cheese and bier onions, an ingredient that seemed apropos and appears on a variety of other burgers. The Draft Burger with cheese came out to $9.25 ($8.75 with an upcharge of $0.50 for onions).
The Draft Burger was delivered in a red plastic paper-lined basket with a huge serving of fries. The lid of the bun was propped and secured with a branded wooden skewer, showcasing the burger beneath, which was covered with golden onions and a generous portion of melted cheese.
The brioche bun had a lovely glossy exterior with a pillowy soft texture and a nice heft, giving it the perfect weight to hold up to a juicy burger and toppings. It came beautifully toasted, offering a bit of texture along with extra protection against any moisture.
This is the second venue I've encountered that offered the choice of "pink" or "not pink" in terms of the burger's level of doneness. Without hesitation, I opted for "pink," which our server indicated would result in a medium burger. Upon arrival, the burger was closer to medium-well, with only the vaguest pink hue in the center. It was well seasoned on the exterior, but fairly heavily charred. Its texture was quite firm (and occasionally a bit gristly), and it was more dry than juicy, making it a burger that desperately needed the redemption that toppings often bring.
I always like to give the benefit of a doubt. So, for good measure, I also tried my dining companion's burger to ensure my burger's preparation wasn't an anomaly. Unfortunately, it was nearly identical.
The toppings were basic, but well prepared. The bier onions were golden and sweet with a very nice beer-forward flavor; even better, there were just enough to offer flavor and moisture. The cheese was beautifully melted and plentiful; and, in the end, its umami and fat was a saving grace for the burger patty.
A burger under $10 is a great find, especially when it's served up with a mound of fries. Unfortunately, the quality of the burger itself took the value quotient of this burger down a few notches. Had it only been juicy and more flavorful, I would have felt far more comfortable giving it closer to an 8.
The burgers at Bier & Burger are imaginative and well-presented; but they're not the sort of burgers I'd seek out sans bun and toppings.
Bier & Burger is open daily from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
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