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No meat, no problem! Our verdict on new pub burger

By Simon Penfold | Dining out | Published:

It's supposed to be the closest you can get to a 'real' burger, without being one.

Wolverhampton beer and pubs giant Marston's has swung its impressive weight behind the B12 Burger, a newly launched all-veg version of the traditional beefy treat.

And I have to say, it's not bad at all. It feels right in the mouth, quite juicy and tasty, rather than the dry hockey pucks that are often served up as veggie burgers.

It was certainly better than a lot of the meat burgers I've eaten over the years.

My mind shies away from thinking too deeply about what offcuts, bits and pieces might have found their way into those mysterious items.

At least I knew what went into the B12 Burger.

The company behind it, called Moving Mountains, says it contains oyster mushrooms, pea protein, wheat and soy proteins, coconut oil, oats and beetroot juice to provide "a juicy, ‘bleed’ at the centre of the patty".

The name comes from vitamin B12, traditionally associated with red meats, which has been added so that the Moving Mountains burger contains the recommended daily allowance.

It is the result of three years of development work by scientists, chefs and farmers, and it has taken over 200 test recipes to create the final product.

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Not everyone is impressed. One of my colleagues could barely contain his disgust and insisted that if people wanted to eat a burger, they should eat a proper meaty burger.

But Marston's, the home of Banks's ales, has thrown its backing behind the B12 Burger by launching it at hundreds of its pubs nationwide. The price will vary from pub to pub, but will probably be the same as any other burger meal.

Staff at the company's Chapel Ash headquarters were certainly keen when they were offered a free B12 Burger as part of its launch. They queued all the way back through the main doors from the burger van set up in the car park – a good 50 yards, to make sure they got one of the 200 burgers on offer.

Certainly no-one was throwing their burger away after the first mouthful.

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Leigh Barton is part of the food development team at Marston's, and said: "I think some people are a bit sceptical at first – I know I was – but it's really tasty. It's got the right 'mouth feel', as well as a good flavour, and the sizzle that gives it that brown crust on the outside like a beer burger.

"We've even had one of our draymen trying it and enjoying it, which is a big plus for us."

No-one is pretending the burger is going to persuade meat-eaters to give up their beef, but the Marston's team believes it will give newly converted vegetarians and vegans the fast-food treat they may crave.

The biggest market, however, are the 'flexitarians", which is Millennial-speak for people who decide to eat less meat for health or even ecological reasons – concerned about deforestation in places like South America to make way for more pasture to raise beef cattle.

It's also healthier - with far less saturated fat and no cholesterol. Sian Hazlehurst, Marston's marketing manager, said: "A lot of women will like the fact that it has a lot less calories."

Having just packed one away, she added: "I was sceptical, but it's lovely. It's moist and there's none of the gristle you get in some burgers. It tastes really good."

I have to admit I was a bit iffy about the business of the 'bleeding' beetroot juice.

Any burger afficionado will tell you that a good medium-rare burger doesn't bleed if its been properly rested for a few minutes after cooking. But, in the event, my burger didn't produce any dodgy beetroot juice, it was just pink in the middle.

Most of us will have been served up a rock solid beefburger in our time - proper beef, but dense and overcooked. Instead, the B12 burger is succulent and moist with a nice texture, light rather than heavy.

The mock shredded pork topping – made of jackfruit – was tasty too. It all made for that proper burger experience but without the grease. Not that I have anything against grease in its place.

Am I going to stop eating beefburgers? No. I love good, juicy, meaty burger with all the trimmings. But I'd be more than happy to tuck into one of these veggie alternatives if it was offered up. It's as close to the real thing as I've come across so far.

Simon Penfold

By Simon Penfold
Business Editor - @SPenfold_star

Business Editor based at the Express & Star's head office in Wolverhampton, looking for stories big & small.

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