Bacon and Beer Tasting

My friend J-Po and I recently attended a bacon and beer tasting.  We’re both big fans of the separate components, so pairing them in a complementary way seemed like the best thing since snowplows.  Once we found out about it, we knew we had to go.  Sadly, months elapsed before we managed to snag a reservation for a time we could both attend, affording me plenty of time to nurture some high, yet still realistic, expectations.  These expectations were slaughtered, like pigs for bacon.

I am a bit OCD; it’s sort of one of my hobbies.  The tasting was supposed to start at 7, and since I was running a bit behind, I took a cab instead of the bus.  It turned out that I could have walked since we spent 6:55-7:50 admiring our clean plates and empty glasses.  In fairness, we could have had full glasses – we were regularly asked if we wanted to order any additional food or beer off the menu while we waited.  We didn’t, we were there for some paired-up bacons and beers.  The employees were nice, but service was slow:  It was a fifty minute delay for a scheduled event where everyone has the same thing: five sides of bacon with mini pours (~6oz) of five pre-determined beers.  I worked in the restaurant industry and am pretty confident that if I’d pulled that sort of delay my head would have been the following night’s special.  Seriously, they could have crocked the bacon while we waited.  While waiting, we looked at their food menu and it looks like they do a good job of incorporating their bacons into their meals.  I appreciate that if I had really enjoyed a bacon, I could have ordered it as part of a meal – e.g. a BLT with a pound of bacon.

J-Po and I had the foresight to sit at the bar, mostly because we know where the extra beer gets poured (we got “topped up” on three of the five offerings) but also because the tables had four chairs and the idea of making random new friends didn’t exactly thrill us.  The beers were pretty good, although not all of them were the sort I personally like drinking; there was one I would definitely buy at the store and a second I would enjoy ordering out on occasion.  They were all legitimate beers – American/Imported craft, unique from each other – so it wasn’t like they tried to sneak some MGD in there or anything.  It just turns out that I will not be branching out into milk stouts.  That’s part of a tasting though: trying new things to find out what I do and do not care for.  

The bacon.  We’re pretty sure that the bacon was ready around 6pm, because it was tepid at best.  Something new I learned is how dramatically the temperature-flexibility range of bacon varies.  Bacon glazed with maple syrup or brown sugar?  That bad boy needs to be hot and fresh.  Pancetta is much more flexible.  The bacon portions were the typical “side” size most restaurants offer, which is never enough, but was what we expected.  It was a tasting, not a dinner.   We tried Danish bacon, which neither of us had eaten before; I think I would like best hot and at breakfast. 

I don’t go to a ton of consumable educational events or tastings, but I’ve gone to a few. Based on my (admittedly limited) experience, I’ve grown to expect that I’m going to be told something about what I’m eating and drinking and why.  Not here.  In addition to doing the bacon and beer thing, the bar was also open for regular business and has a niche crowd of rugby fans.  J-Po and I sort of looked at our glasses and plates after their first filling, then looked at each other, shrugged, and dug in.  Our only guide was a small sheet of paper with the offerings and order on it, but without any supplemental information.  The graphic of a pig at the top takes up more space than any of the descriptions.      

The tasting wasn’t bad, per se; it just could have been SO MUCH BETTER.  Its nose was smoky, salty, and hastily thrown together.  Obviously my expectations – Hello! Beer! Bacon! – were high, but given the glorious combination, it would have been sacrilege to have denied them.  We don’t regret that we went, we just won’t go back.  This did inspire me to create my own bacon and beer shenanigans (Baconalia!) and honestly?  If I don’t disappoint myself, the cost of the professional tasting was probably worth the inspiration.


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