Merced County Times Newspaper
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TIMES PHOTOS BY GWEN HAGAMAN

‘Burgers & Brews’ draws hundreds to downtown Merced

If you followed your nose last Saturday evening, you’d likely have found yourself at Bob Hart Square where local chefs sent the fragrance of barbecue grills, spicy seasonings and juicy burgers wafting into the downtown air. The rainy weather was no deterrent to a fabulous evening as the Greater Merced Chamber of Commerce’s (GMCC) second “Burgers & Brews” event sold out at 470 tickets.

Chef Rafa of Caribbean Fusion chose to make slider-sized burgers. “It’s easy to eat small bite gourmet burgers,” he said. “I cook with unique flavors from American and Caribbean flavors. Everything is fresh from scratch.” My description? Tasty!

“Burgers & Brews is by far one of the best events downtown,” said one local Rotarian who asked to be named as the International Man of Mystery. “I’m a big fan of the chamber and their efforts to bring good event to Merced.” His vote for “Best Burger” went to Grubb for their Blue Cheese Burgers.

Zach Avila of Drake’s Brew from San Leandro was happy to be part of GMCC’s Burgers & Brews. “It’s a great showing with lots of options for beer and burgers. And aside from the rain, people turned it into a really good night,” he said.

“The sweet potato fries at the Merced Main Street Association (MMSA) booth are delicious,” smiled Leticia Ramirez. She also recommended the Orange Ave. Wit from Coronado Brewing Company.

Those sweet potato fries were carefully prepared by 30-year cooking veteran Nana Sanavongsay. She volunteered to help at the MMSA booth but she’s a star chef on the YouTube channel “Cooking with Nana.” This wonderful lady has 57,000 subscribers!

I enjoy darker brews and was fond of Wether, a German Weizenbock made by The Bruery. According to their Merced Beer Specialist Adam Gripenstraw, you may purchase their products at SaveMart and Raley’s or enjoy them on draft at five.ten.bistro.

Burgermeisters from six local restaurants participated and served hundreds of well grilled delights. They were Merced College Fresh Seasons Café, Five Ten Bistro, Chef Rafa’s Caribbean Fusion, the Tri-Tipery, UC Merced Café and the winner by taster vote GRUB.

Nine breweries shared their craft beers. The are The Bruery, Santa Maria Brewing Co., Tap It Brewing Co., Drake’s Brewing Co., Firestone Walker Brewing Co., Dust Bowl Brewery, Coronado Brewing Co., Track 7 Brewing Co., and the winner by taster vote Blaker Brewing Co.

Guests also got a look at the new “Merced Yacht Club” designs by Sara and Aaron Hill’s The Greatest Valley line of local pride apparel.

GMCC credits their sponsors for allowing them to bring fun events into Merced. They are platinum sponsors Dignity Health Mercy Medical Center and Golden Valley Health Centers; event sponsor Fluetsch & Busby Insurance; entertainment sponsor the Abbate Family; and DMC Construction, Maxwell Homes, Leap Carpenter Kemps Insurance, Bob Craig CPA, Fluetsch & Busby Rentals, Rabobank, MERCO, Anderson Tree Service, Berliner Cohen, F&M Bank, McAuley Motors, Mason & Stephanie Brawley, CoreHR, Service Masters and Hoffman Security.

For more information about GMCC events visit online: mercedchamber.com, or call 384-7092.

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