Baconalia! Review: Straight-Up Bacon with Brooklyn Brown

Straight-Up Bacon with Brooklyn Brown Ale: The Standards.

Amidst chocolate coating, fresh asparagus, cute little melon balls, petite sandwiches, and freshly cracked pepper, it’s easy to lose sight about what Baconalia! is truly about – the bacon.  When creating the menu, I didn’t think “Hmm…What should I dip into this melted chocolate – oh, bacon!”  No, I thought, “Hmm…Into what should I dip some delicious bacon?”  Similarly, the beer menu was selected after the bacon-based menu was complete.  The last couple of reviews have crossed international borders, but this week I want to bring things back home and back to basics.  Back to bacon: plain, honest bacon.

When I’m at my childhood home, I like to buy my bacon at the local butcher shop.  Alas, my current residence doesn’t have such a place and my lifestyle doesn’t really support adding another stop to my weekly errands.  Luckily, Hormel Black Label bacon (HBLB) exists.  It’s consistent, delicious, and readily available at a couple of my regular stops.  Even more luckily, the week prior to Baconalia!, it was on sale in a major way – buy one, get one free.  I bought three and got three for free.  (Aside: Try saying “Three For Free” several times in a row, at speed.  Yeah, not SO easy.  The Boo and I have been reading Fox in Sox quite regularly and I am getting rather good at tongue twisters.)  Anyway, since I like it and know it to be a quality meat, I used HBLB in a lot of the recipes that called for straight-up ‘bacon’ and also offered it on its own.  While delicious with accompaniments, HBLB is good enough to stand on its own…rendered fat legs?

The best way to describe HBLB is to say that it looks, tastes, and smells like good bacon.  Unfortunately, given the context that I am reviewing multiple bacons, that is not a very good description.  I settled on it as my out-in-the-world bacon for a couple of reasons.  First off, it’s consistent.  When I buy it, I know what I am getting and I like what I am getting.  It’s nice and salty, I’m always able to find a pack that is not excessively fatty, the strips are thick enough to work with, and the cost is reasonable – even when it is not BOGO.  I only ever buy the original and center cut versions of HBLB, and it has always stood up to whatever shenanigans I put it through.

To provide more depth to this review, I paid a visit to Hormel’s website.  Apparently this is also the bacon of AMERICA, as Hormel has been “curing and caring for over 100 years” and their meat comes from the farmers of the HEARTLAND.  Well, shucks!  100 years is longer than my paternal ancestors have even been in this country.  This was my favorite bit from Hormel’s website: Hormel® bacon provides the high quality and versatility to make any meal taste better.  Quality and versatility: Isn’t that what America should be about? 

America’s bacon deserves an American beer, preferably one near a major and historical immigration entrance point.  Thus, I paired it with Brooklyn Brewery’s Brown Ale, which is an American brown ale.  I opted to match this somewhat nonchalant beer with straight-up bacon, as I did not want the bacon to be overshadowed.  I wanted the emphasis of this pairing to be naked bacon (nakon?), and the take-away to be that despite all that I had done to bacon, bacon didn’t need any of it to be delicious. 

This beer is a rich color, which is kind of a trick, as it goes down light and smooth.  It washes the bacon down, versus away.  The American browns tend to have a bit more going on than the English ones, which was true here – a bit hoppy, while still being roasty-malt warm.  Fortunately, HBLB is a solid bacon and could stand up to an American (craft) beer.  We all expected that outcome.

This is the bacon that I used in all of my recipes for Baconalia!.  I don’t want to ruin any surprises, but let’s just say Hormel’s claim of “quality and versatility” is put to the test.


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