Hello there. Take my hand, we’re going places.
If you can’t tell from the slightly deranged look in my eye, we’re on a delicious, unusual mission to locate delicious unusual beers that are entertaining as well as intriguing. Our quest will send us to beers that are polarizing, gaining an adoring following from one crowd and alienating another. That’s a grim fact of the creative process. If everyone likes you, you’re doing something wrong.
There is one food item which everyone seems to love, nay, adore, and pairing this food item with beer is not only genious but kind of obvious. Yes, bacon. Bacon beer is not only a thing, but gaining popularity in the US and to craft brewers around the world. (Though mostly the US. We’re freaks over here for bacon, it’s embarrassing). And it makes sense…with its salty sweetness and smoky flavor, it’s a natural accompaniment to a rich dark beer.
Different varieties of beer have undergone a bacon transformation (like Uncommon Brewer’s Bacon Brown Ale) but have been unsuccessful with delighting the intended audience. And the reason is because brown ales are like a kiss on the cheek when it comes to flavor. Pleasant, can’t really argue with it, and lukewarm. But don’t you want a passionate, french-kissing-in-the-moonlight amount of flavor? Yeah, you know you do. That’s why porters and stouts are better compliments to the richness of the bacon. Porters and stouts have intense flavors of smoke, burnt sugar, coffee, chocolate, and hoppy bitterness that compliment and contrast perfectly with the famous flavors of bacon.
Allow me to wax poetic and reminisce for a minute. I was in Asheville, North Carolina, a town famous for bars with over 200 craft beers on tap. My heart fluttered seeing the Bacon Stout. The bartender poured the beer into the glass, and either I was viewing things in slow motion, or the beer was so thick and dark that it was lazy and languid in its journey to the glass.
And my first sip was like fireworks. Sexy fireworks. (Fun fact: A bacon stout is very, very sexy.) Because the flavor was so intense, this was a beer to sip slowly. Chugging beer is out. Enjoying the creativity of the beer is IN.
There are many other bacon beers to sip. For as intense an experience as can be, look for Imperial Bacon Stouts, like The Belly of the Beast, from Rockingham Brewing Company. This variety was rated ‘outstanding’ on Beeradvocate.com, and called “smoky”, “amazing”, and “excellent” by tasters. Ooh, baby.
Unsurprisingly, brewers have pushed the proverbial envelope (the envelope is made of bacon and filled with beer, handle with care) and taken the bacon flavor even further. Maple Bacon Stout is also an option for those adventurous enthusiasts who like french kiss-worthy flavor. It was only a matter of time until this pairing was sold to an excited public. Brewers know that piling similar flavors together creates a boring beer, but intermingling intriguing contrasts creates the opposite. Chocolatey sweetness in stout compliments the sweetness of maple, and both contrast with saltiness in bacon and bitterness in hops and coffee…all flavors in these beer varieties. The Funky Buddha’s Maple Bacon Coffee Porter is a wonderful example of this beer variety done well.
If you’re thinking that all this talk of maple and bacon and coffee sounds a lot like breakfast, you’re not wrong. Another beer variety is a Breakfast Stout, which I at first completely misunderstood to be a meal replacement, which is a great idea in theory, but in the long run, is disastrous to a professional goals. Let’s all lose our jobs! Cheers! In reality, though, a breakfast stout is a stout with heavy flavors of coffee. Founders Brewing Company makes an excellent Imperial Stout with Coffee Beans and Maple Bacon, the true breakfast of champions, one that may not guarantee professional success but at least your day will be good.
There are more Bacon Beers than you or I will ever be able to drink. Blueberry Bourbon Bacon Stout (I just fainted), Bacon Milk Stout, and Bacon and Eggs Porter (I’m trying to figure out if there were actual eggs used in the brewing process) are all OUT THERE, waiting for us to enjoy them.
The best thing about creativity is enjoying it. These bacon beers are all about that. *Mwah!*