Blog: Beer, Bacon & Bourbon 2016
In its seventh banner year, the traveling roadshow of mouthwatering gluttony known as the Beer, Bourbon & BBQ Festival returned to New York City on Saturday with two jam packed sessions inside spacious Chelsea venue The Tunnel. Over the course of 9.5 glorious hours, hundreds upon hundreds of thirsty revelers would crowd the sprawling venue with their glasses outstretched and their faces glistening from a seemingly endless supply of delicious pork. With the afternoon’s “Bacon Bash Session” completely sold out, we joined a sea of hungry swine-lovers for the evening’s “Whole Hog Pig Pickin’” session where- you guessed it- a full size pig would be the celebrated guest of honor.
Participating restaurants and vendors like Handsome Devil (“Sausage Fatty”), Kloby’s Smokehouse “Bread Pudding”), Bar Matchless (“Savory Bacon Jam with Jalapeno Corn Bread”) and Butcher Bar(“Double Smoked Beef Burnt Ends”) would be among those relentless in their day long prep of trays of tasty strips of various bacon, hunks of tender brisket, Mac and Cheese and even bacon wrapped meatballs. The smells and tastes emanating from inside the event space can hardly be described by mere words. The salty and succulent flavors involved being washed down by some of the sixty beers and forty bourbons selected specifically for the 2016 festivities left an overall sentiment of complete satisfaction for those of us inside.
Armed with a nicely sized commemorative tasting glass, we began with an array of different beers from from breweries outside of our local area. Pours of the Belgian “Delirium Red” from Brouwerij Huyghe nicely kicked off the evening as the ripe fruit nose and malted berry beer taste allowed us to forget about the chilly conditions outside and focus on the clean carbonated finish with each sip. Digging into more fruity styles, Abita Brewing Co.’s “Grapefruit Harvest IPA” was a completely approachable foray into the hops-fueled genre for drinkers that might typically eschew the style. It’s heavy on the zest and citrus flavors, but overall is undeniably refreshing for an IPA- so long as you can tolerate the grapefruit flavor.
Other standouts included some crisp ciders from Downeast Cider, Angry Orchard and Magners, but beer fans were undoubtedly pleased to re-fill their glasses with familiar pours from Sixpoint, The Bronx Brewery, Blue Point Brewing and Narragansett, quality local breweries which produce downright delicious craft product. Fittingly there were plenty of darker, heavier beers from which to choose, given the cold winter evening that awaited us outside. Sierra Nevada for instance poured a particularly delicious “Blizzicane Bock,” a rich and sweet brown beer that yielded a nicely strong finish. Distinctively, Long Trail Brewing Co. whipped out their pitch black “Unearthed,” a stout that packs 7.9% alcohol, but drinks much smoother than that might imply. With a dark chocolate and banana nose, there’s a nice earthiness that takes this specific beer to a far superior level.
The litany of bourbons being offered ran the gamut from Bulleit to Evan Williams, Widow Jane to Four Roses, and Firefly Apple Pie Moonshine and we saved those tastings to close out our time inside of the event. The evening slowly and steadily began to get a bit fuzzy as we donned our requisite mustaches courtesy of The Traveler Beer Co. and we quickly grabbed repeat pours of their “Illusive Traveler Grapefruit Ale.” This sweet beer managed to avoid the bitter flavor normally associated with grapefruit and poured a nice golden color- one that proved perfect for photographs and Instagram (instagram.com/localbozo). What the beer wasn’t exactly ideal for though was pairing with the piping hot hunk of freshly plucked pig, plopped on our plate straight from the ‘belly of the beast.’ A crowd quickly formed surrounding the body of a sliced open hog that lay near the entrance of the building and with forks in hand, we collectively dug into each juicy meat-filled morsel, salivating with each passing bite.
Our bellies now full and our balance a bit woozy, it was time to waive the white flag on 2016′s “Beer, Bourbon & BBQ Festival.” Though saying goodbye to one of January’s finest events is always tough year after year, we know it’s time to share with nine other cities throughout the country as the year progresses. And if we find ourselves in Charlotte in May, Atlanta in June or Virginia Beach in August, we’ll make sure to experience it all over again later this year.
- Dave Gendelson