In a surprise to no one, the third annual Boston Bacon and Beer Festival—which brings together bacon dishes and craft beers from over 40 local restaurants and breweries—is one of the hardest beer fest tickets to get in town.
The first year, the tickets sold out in a month. The second year, they went in two minutes. This year, the pre-sale tickets sold out in 10 minutes (and would have gone faster if not for site issues) and the rest released the next day were sold in less than a minute.
That’s what happens when you combine the appeal of bacon and beer into one event—the annual Bacon and Beer Fest, put on by food event entrepreneur Aaron Cohen of Eat Boston. But as the sold-out festival proved, the people wanted more bacon and more beer (also a surprise to no one), so Eat Boston is rolling out a whole Bacon and Beer Week, which kicks off April 29 and includes restaurant bacon and beer pairings, a bacon and beer karaoke harbor cruise, and a bacon and beer art show.
“I couldn’t imagine doing any of this stuff three years ago, let alone a karaoke and harbor cruise,” said Cohen.
There’s no shortage of beer events around the city, and bacon-themed events aren’t uncommon either, but they had never before been combined into one event.
“This is a beer event like other ones in the city—but it also has all the food and it’s also a little bit cheaper. It brings a lot more people into the food and beer community than would normally be into it.”
While there are plentiful pairings (see below for a few), two breweries on the edge of the bacon and beer frontier, took it a step further and brewed their own bacon beer.
Watch City Brewing made a basic Rauchbier—a German smoked beer that often tastes meaty and bacony—and developed a special technique to extract the flavor from the bacon fat that they infused the beer with. When they made a bacon beer last year, they went so far as to put it in 16 casks, each one with different flavor infusions, like concentrated green tea, jalapeno pepper mash, and roasted fig and dates.
For this year’s art show, they are releasing their one-year-old aged Rauchbier with bacon essence. It’s smokier, has more caramel notes and subtle bacon flavor, said Watch City brewmaster Aaron Mateychuk.
At Smuttynose Brewery in Portsmouth, Charlie Ireland (whose official title is Brewer/Wood-Aging Funkdafier) created a Bacon Brown Dog Ale for the festival—that’s their famous brown ale infused with bacon, primed with maple syrup and cask conditioned.
“From what I remember, it tasted exactly like bacon,” said Smuttynose Minister of Propaganda JT Thompson, who worked at the fest in 2010. He described it as caramel-y and not bitter at all, and imagines it would pair well with an onion and cheese omelet.
Don’t underestimate the power of this bacon beer. Thompson said he asked one woman at the festival what she thought of it. Her response?
“I’ve been a vegetarian for three or four years, but this? Totally worth it.”
Left out of the frying pan? The restaurants will be offerings special-priced pairings all week.
Homemade bacon, beer, and cheddar bratwurst, paired with a Miller High Life for $12.
TRINA’S STARLITE LOUNGE
BLT Sliders paired with a pint of Mayflower Spring Hop for $12
UPSTAIRS ON THE SQUARE
Almond-stuffed, bacon-wrapped medjool dates paired with an IPA for $10