Event Recap | Bacon & Beer Festival 2015
If bacon is good and more bacon is better, then even more bacon with lots of incredible craft beer is the absolute best. The Bacon and Beer Festival returned to Denver on Sunday, October 8… and it was glorious. Bacon is an extremely versatile ingredient and this festival was a platform for some of Denver’s top chefs to show us its versatility. It was also a great opportunity for local breweries to show how their beers can pair with diverse swine dishes. Like last year, proceeds from the event benefited Metro CareRing and Project Angel Heart.
With more than 30 Colorado breweries and dishes from 25 local restaurants, this festival would seem like a gluttonous gathering of unlimited beer and bacon, but in reality, it was almost the exact opposite. The food was intricately thought out and prepared with precision. The beer was carefully crafted and hand-selected for this event. This year, the festival moved to RiNo’s Glitterdome, home of the Denver Roller Girls. The new location offered a more open setting, making it easier to coast through the crowd and partake in more pork. In addition to the increased accessibility, the event center offered a more relaxed environment and the exciting (but disappointing for most Denver fans) Broncos and Colts game,
4 Noses Brewing, ACGolden Brewing, Boulder Beer Company, Breckenridge Brewery, Call to Arms Brewing, Colorado Cider Company, City Star Brewing, Crazy Mountain Brewery, Crooked Stave, Denver Beer Co, Elevation Beer Company, Epic Brewing, Fiction Beer Company, Fort Collins Brewery, Fort Collins Brewery, Great Divide Brewing Company, Grimm Brothers Brewhouse,Left Hand Brewing, Mockery Brewing, Oskar Blues Brewery, Prost Brewing Co, Ratio Beerworks, Renegade Brewing, River North Brewery, Spangalang Brewery, Stem Ciders, Storm Peak Brewing, Strange Craft, The Post Brewing Company, Wit’s End Brewing Company, Wynkoop Brewing Co.
Argyll Whisky Beer, Bacon Social House, Blackbird Public House, Block & Larder, Brazen Neighborhood Eatery, bubu Lowry, Butcher’s Bistro, Euclid Hall, Glazed and Confused Donuts, Hopdoddy, Ignite, Interstate, Jax Fish House glendale, Kachina Southwestern Grill, Kevin Taylor Restaurant Group, Lena, MAX’s Wine Dive, Next Door Union Station, range, Rebel Restaurant, Second Home Kitchen + Bar, Stoney’s Bar and Grill, Telegraph, The Corner Office, The Lobby
Our Favorite Beers and Bacons
The top food winner was also my favorite savory treat: Hopdoddy Burger Bar’s Death By Bacon Burger. It is everything a bacon and/or beer enthusiast could dream of. All ingredients were infused with either bacon or beer: Bacon-infused beef patty, pork belly, Prost Dunkel beer cheese, beer braised onions, and the bacon pretzel bun. With each bite, there was not a doubt that the deliciousness was dripping with porky goodness. The samples were all large sliders and the line to get them stayed steadily long throughout the festival, but it was worth the wait.
My favorite sweet bacony goodness was Precocious Piggy Pie from Stoney’s Bar and Grill. It included Ricotta Mouse (think cheesecake in pudding consistency), spiced graham cracker crumbles, graham cracker porter reduction and bacon brittle. Each of the flavors was distinct and identifiable, but the combination of all of them made for an incredible unique sweet treat.
The new restaurant rebel hit a homerun with their Japanese-style curry katsu pork belly with a crispy shrimp chip. The deep fried pork belly practically melted in my mouth. The plating included some spicy sauce and soothing slaw.
Butcher’s Bistro took attendees on to a culinary extreme with their bistro bacon wrapped hogs head with a chili apple jam and pumpkin pie caramel. The meat was incredibly smoky, which countered the spice and sweetness from the apple jam and caramel.
Kevin Taylor’s at the Opera House brought a heavily-flavored light dish with their Bacon and Egg Custard with Ale pickled mustard seeds, broccolini pesto and a puffed cheddar crisp. This delicate dish was a welcome and delectable contrast to the heavier options around. Bacon was in the flavor spotlight, but the supporting cast really made it shine.
The last of my top picks for food has to be from Bubu Lowry. They offered a butternut squash ravioli with ginger and pecan smoked pork belly topped with asian pear slaw, apple soy sauce and pork crackling. This dish did a great job of mixing salty flavors (pork, soy, etc.) with the earthy sweetness of the ravioli and the liveliness of the slaw.
Wit’s End Brewing really got into the spirit of Bacon and Beer Festival with their Pork Soda, a mild beer brewed with maple syrup, black peppercorns and 2 pounds of bacon. The maple flavor stood out but the salty undertone from the bacon was present and welcomed.
Renegade Brewing brought their Maple Porter, which paired well with pretty much every bacon item I ate. The strong maple flavor really accentuated the bacon no matter if the dish was sweet or savory.
There were some great sour beers available that acted as palate cleansers between bites. Those included Ketil from River North Brewery, Wild Sage Brett Saison and St. Bretta Citrus Wildbier from Crooked Stave, Call To Arms’ Charlatan (which won the festival’s best beer), and Spangalang’s Gose.
Bacon and Beer are amazing things on their own and even more incredible when they combine their magical powers. Even the shocking defeat of the Broncos by my Indianapolis Colts playing on the big screen couldn’t dim the high spirits from the event.
Were you at the Bacon and Beer Festival too? Were there any to-die-for beers or dishes that I missed? Let us know in the comments below.