Iron Hill Brewery regional manager Warren Sewell has a meaty claim to fame: He once ate 31 burgers in 31 days.
These were big burgers, too — not thin puny patties from some fast food chain. Fat, thick, juicy half-pounders, and he finished every single bite. Why? To win a bet, of course.
Funny thing is, Sewell, now 30, doesn’t even like red meat. “I’m a lean chicken and ground turkey guy,” he said. But what the Norristown native and former college football star does love is competition. And back in May 2013, when a bartender at the Maple Shade location called him out with a dare to eat every single variation on the brewpub’s annual menu for National Burger Month, he couldn’t resist the challenge.
It wasn’t just the meat Sewell had to consume daily to win, either. The deal was to clean the plate — fries, coleslaw, pickle and the burger with all the toppings, no substitutions. Similar to this year’s list, there were some crazy combinations, like the Jammin’ Marley Burger, with jerk spice, Maui onion jam and pineapple (a favorite), and the London Pub Burger, a double patty smothered with meatloaf gravy and topped with melted cheddar.
Things started out fine, Sewell said, with him ordering (and paying for, out of his own pocket) the first week’s worth of burgers his usual medium-rare. But by the end of the month, he recalled, “I was like, please cook them well done.”
Also by the end of the month, the person he was dating had noticed he’d put on a couple pounds, even though he’d been doing “a lot more” cardio at the gym to compensate for his daily splurge. He was so dedicated to the effort that he even spent his entire Memorial Day weekend driving, heading back and forth from a shore house in Avalon each day so he could finish what he’d started.
In the years since winning the bet, he’s offered the challenge to several other Iron Hill employees, even saying he’d pay for all the burgers, but none have agreed to join in. He’ll be the GM in charge of the new outpost coming to Center City, which is slated to open next year — “Just in time for burger month!” — so he’s hopeful he’ll find a new staff member to take up the challenge.
“There could be worse things,” he said, noting that even though it was a burger every day, he never got bored because they’re all so different. “And hey,” he added, “it didn’t kill me. I’m still kicking!”
Iron Hill Burger Month Menu, 2017
May 1 – Frickle Burger with fried bread-and-butter pickles, bacon, cheddar, 1,000 island dressing, lettuce and tomato, paired with White Iron Wit
May 2 – Three Little Pigs Burger with tomato-bacon jam, Applewood smoked bacon, bacon aioli and smoked gouda, paired with Pig Iron Porter
May 3 – Asian Elvis Burger with spicy peanut sauce, Applewood smoked bacon, pickled vegetables, cucumber and sriracha mayo, paired with Light Lager
May 4 – Kiss the Cook Burger with sweet roasted garlic spread, mushrooms, spinach, gorgonzola and bacon, paired with Pig Iron Porter
May 5 – El Fuego Hamburguesa with fried jalapeños, pepper jack, pico de gallo and habanero aioli, paired with Ore House IPA
May 6 – Kentucky Derby Burger with applewood smoked bacon, pimento cheese, tomato and bourbon-barbeque glaze, paired with Vienna Lager
May 7 – Hangover Burger with fried egg, bacon, sharp cheddar, sriracha aioli and crispy onion strings, paired with Ore House IPA
May 8 – Alpine Burger with fried onion rings, bacon, Swiss cheese and horseradish sauce, paired with Pig Iron Porter
May 9 – Rhythm and Blues Burger with blue cheese, applewood smoked bacon, caramelized onions, 1,000 island dressing and arugula, paired with Vienna Red Lager
May 10 – El Caballero Burger with pickled jalapeños, bacon, red onion jam, chipotle 1,000 island dressing and smoked gouda, paired with Ore House IPA
May 11 – The Big Cheeseowski with balsamic onions, chipotle ketchup, lettuce tomato, white sharp cheddar and provolone, paired with Pig Iron Porter
May 12 – Smokestack Lightning Burger with applewood smoked bacon, smoked gouda, barbecue onions, lettuce and tomato, paired with Mahalo, Apollo!
May 13 – Louisiana Voodoo Burger with grilled Andouille sausage, tri-colored peppers and onions, smoked gouda and spicy voodoo barbecue sauce, paired with Vienna Red Lager
May 14 – Mama’s Brunch Burger with sunny side-up egg, garlic and herb cream cheese, prosciutto and exotic mushroom relish, paired with White Iron Wit
May 15 – Ode to Jerry Garcia Burger with ‘shrooms, Monterey jack, caramelized onions and roasted garlic aioli, paired with Ore House IPA
May 16 – Sweet Caroline Burger with Vienna Red Lager-braised pulled pork, mustard sauce, griddled sweet onions and coleslaw, paired with Vienna Red Lager
May 17 – Steakhouse Burger with smoky bacon-onion marmalade, mushrooms, Swiss and creamy steak sauce, paired with Pig Iron Porter
May 18 – Black Forest Burger with roasted exotic mushrooms, Swiss and horseradish sauce, paired with Light Lager
May 19 – The Big Haas with mashed avocado, Monterey Jack, sriracha aioli, grilled red onions and ale-pickled peppers, paired with Mahalo, Apollo!
May 20 – Armed Forces Tribute Burger with bacon, American cheese, onion rings, bread-and-butter pickles and barbecue sauce, paired with Light Lager
May 21 – Upscale Diner Burger with sunny side-up egg, Swiss, herb-roasted exotic mushrooms, bacon and black pepper-shallot aioli, paired with Mahalo, Apollo!
May 22 – Chicago Beef Burger with spicy giardiniera, sweet roasted peppers, garlic aioli and provolone, paired with Light Lager
May 23 – Tombstone Burger with a fried onion stack, smoked bacon, cheddar and barbecue sauce, paired with Ore House IPA
May 24 – The Brewben Burger with Vienna Red Lager-bacon kraut, gruyere, 1,000 island dressing and crispy fried onion strings, paired with Pig Iron Porter
May 25 – The Big Barn Burger with Vienna Red Lager-braised pulled pork, sunny side-up egg, applewood smoked bacon, shallot aioli, barbecue sauce and cheddar, paired with Vienna Red Lager
May 26 – The Belgian Burger with Brussels sprout slaw, applewood smoked bacon, tomato, pommes frites and Abbey Dubbel gravy, paired with Mahalo, Apollo!
May 27 – Fire on the Mountain Burger with chili con carne, fried habanero rings, chipotle aioli, pepper jack cheese, lettuce and tomato, paired with Ore House IPA
May 28 – Good Day, Sunshine Burger with sunny side-up egg, American cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato and maple mayo, paired with Light Lager
May 29 – Yogi’s Pic-a-nic Burger with bacon, American cheese, bread-and-butter pickles, lettuce, tomato and special sauce, served with a side of potato salad and paired with White Iron Wit
May 30 – Brewmaster’s Burger with beer-braised onions, bacon, Swiss, cheddar and roasted garlic aioli, paired with Ore House IPA
May 31 – The Drunk Monk Burger with exotic mushrooms, Abbey Dubbel-braised onions, brie, truffle mayo and arugula, paired with White Iron Wit