There are two types of people in this world: those who like bacon and those who do not know what they are missing. The latter should not attend the Beer, Bourbon, & BBQ Festival unless they are willing to open their eyes (and mouths) and enjoy the various types of bacon (alongside other types of meat) that the culinary world has to offer. Luckily, for those of us who like not only bacon but also beer and bourbon, this festival exists. Each year, this festival is broken into two parts. 2014’s festival had The Bacon Bash Session (which we attended) from noon to 4PM. The trick is to get here early and wait in line until they let everyone in all at once. If you show up right at 12, you’re bound to miss out on a lot of great food and some drinks.
This festival is huge! There is not an empty spot in the place. Oh, you just had some bourbon? Well, there is some beer at the next table for you to try! As someone who enjoys whiskey, I had to try the Dickel Rye Whiskey that was being offered. This whiskey had a very smooth taste and the employee serving it made sure to explain what makes their whiskeys different. They even offer a clear whiskey if you want to put some hair on your chest. Greenport Harbor was the first beer I tried at the festival. Their IPA was very tasty and went down smooth. reBar was there serving the most amazing polenta that I have ever tasted. It was creamy and had the perfect taste. What made their polenta even better was the bacon they put right on top. I had at least 5 of these. One station was serving a sandwich by the name of “Vegas Elvis”. House made BBQ peanut butter, bourbon bacon, and beer onion jam. How good does that sound?! It really was THAT good.
Heavy Seas Brewery also made a visit to the festival. I really enjoyed their station simply because not only were they serving great beer, they also were giving out eye patches. I made sure to put one on and take a photo because even though I am of legal age to drink alcohol, I’m still a kid at heart. As we made our way into the other room, we discovered Cabin Fever Maple Moonshine. This will easily get you tipsy. It tastes like pure maple syrup. It’s also 80 proof, so be careful! Is your blood sugar not high enough just yet? Right across the way was the Wood’s Vermont Maple Syrup Company. This is actual maple syrup that just so happens to have bourbon included. You definitely taste the bourbon but you also imagine having this poured on top of some pancake and/or waffles on a weekend morning. Another thing I enjoy is hot sauce, the hotter the better! Torchbearer Sauces made an appearance and knocked out all of my taste buds for a good few minutes. JD Gourmet was there to repair your taste buds with their barrel-aged balsamic vinegar blends. I personally enjoyed the pear vinegar, however, my friends enjoyed the chocolate one more.
You had some beer, some bourbon, and a few hot and sweet things but you need that BBQ again! Luckily, Brother Jimmy’s BBQ was there to dish out some ribs. The ribs were meaty and tasty and a nice way to break up everything else we were shoveling into our mouths. I also tried a Guinness cupcake because I’m a baker and I like getting new ideas. These cupcakes were simply amazing. The frosting (which I never like) was light and fluffy. The cupcake itself was delicious. Beast of Bourbon Brooklyn (kudos to you if you get the reference) was also in the house, serving up some of their tasty bourbon. They also gave out coins that are good for a free drink the next time you visit them. Samuel Adams (a personal favorite) also had their own station, they were serving up their newest seasonal ale Cold Snap. I had been meaning to try this so you best believe I ran over to their station. Not only did they serve delicious beer, they also gave out snap bracelets (hello, fellow 90s kids!) and keychain bottle openers. The Traveler Beer Company was present and giving out stick-on mustaches. Hey, you never know when you need to disguise yourself. Narragansett had a station, where they were serving refreshing beer right from Rhode Island. Magic Hat made sure to promote safe sex by giving out condoms. Virgil’s BBQ had the messiest chicken wings I have ever tasted, yet they were yummy and meaty (they also gave out wet naps, which always help at events like this).
The real treat of the night was the sit-down seminar. In front of us were 8 different beverages to try (some bourbon, some beer). They also gave us a full dinner to eat! I couldn’t finish any of my food at the seminar simply because I had been eating all day at the event. My favorite part of the meal was actually the beets from The Barmatchless Group. These beets were pickled and delicious. Mike Rodriguez from Tres Carnes gave us some brisket to try. I have to admit, I am not the biggest brisket fan but it went nice with the salsa verde on the side. Pulled pork was courtesy of Handsome Devil, LLC. The baked bourbon beans from Kloby’s Smokehouse were out of this world! Blacksauce Kitchen made sure to bring in the soul food favorites by providing biscuits and mac & cheese. Dessert was chocolate dipped bacon courtesy of Baconery. Each drink we were served went well with everything we ate. They had speakers explaining Texas BBQ to us while also explaining what makes each drink special. I was especially excited to try Pappy Van Wickle Family Reserve 23 year. A bottle of this typically goes for around $2,700. Yes, I drank all of it. The Heavy Seas Loose Cannon was also very good and smooth. Heavy Seas Powder Monkey was made to go along with the bacon since it has a chocolate taste to it. Oh, have you ever wanted to learn the difference between Boston Butt and Picnic Shoulder and how to differentiate on a freshly carved pig? Meat Hook from Brooklyn was on hand to give a demonstration!
This was one of the best festivals that I have ever attended. Make sure to go hungry, and thirsty, and grab your glass on the way in. They also sell glass holders to go around your neck so you can eat and drink at the same time! I have to give credit to my friend Phil for making pretzel necklaces for us to snack on in-between beers, bourbons, and food. You are most definitely missing out if you do not attend this festival next year.
Article by: Kristy Rody (www.quinngoldie.wordpress.com)