Beer and bacon overload at Craft Cellars

DSC00489When I bought tickets to ‘Beer and Bacon’ at Craft Cellars, I wasn’t unsure what to expect. Apparently I also wasn’t even sure where I was going, as my tweet to CRAFT Beer Market about it was met with polite clarification that they were indeed not the event hosts. I suppose I was blinded by the combined awesomeness of beer and bacon being featured in a single event and was sold without requiring any further details!

We arrived at Craft Cellars a bit early and had a chance to take a stroll around the store which I had not been to before. They have a pretty extensive selection of beer, wines and spirits; prices on some of my favorite beers were lower than most other stores which was a bonus! Personally, the store is a bit out of the way for me, but I would definitely recommend anyone in the area to stop by and check it out. Their website is still in the making as the store has only been open for about a month, but it was easy to find, located just along 32 Ave NE.

The event itself was held around a large u-shaped granite bar where approximately 20 guests perched comfortably on bar stools. In front of us were four pre-poured light beers and a plate of bacon, prepared seven ways, and a little cup of hickory sauce to make the eighth.

The bacon selection, from left to right; pancetta, apple wood smoked bacon, salt and pepper pork belly, maple glazed pancetta, salted caramel chocolate bacon with cayenne, brown sugar pork belly and prosciutto both plain and with a hickory barbeque sauce.
The bacon selection, from left to right; pancetta, apple wood smoked bacon, salt and pepper pork belly, maple glazed pancetta (I cant even describe how good this one was), salted caramel chocolate bacon with cayenne, brown sugar pork belly and prosciutto both plain and with a hickory barbeque sauce.

Our host for the evening was Steve Trickett (@trickyhophead). He was clearly very passionate about beers and excited to share his bacon creations with us. He seemed knowledgeable on the topic, quite personable and eventually more or less joined in the tasting which improved on the interactive aspect. We tasted each meat with all four beers before moving onto the next, not the format I would have chosen but very interesting nonetheless. It was neat to see the difference each beer made to the meat or vice versa, sometimes improving it, sometimes not. Though in some cases the vote was split, the group generally agreed which of the light beers; a west coast pale ale, lager, pilsner and weissbier went best with each variation of bacon.

The first four! Carlsberg Lager, Erdinger Weissbier, Pilsner Urquell and Black Market Aftermath Pale Ale.
The first four! Carlsberg Lager, Erdinger Weissbier, Pilsner Urquell and Black Market Aftermath Pale Ale.

The second round of four were on the darker side and went better with each meat variation. We started with an IPA, then a dubbel, dopplebock and finally a very smoky rauchbier. Though I understood the concept of the smoke with the bacon, the latter was my least favorite, I just can’t bring myself to like super smoky beers! The dubbel and dopplebock were the winning tickets for me – they both went great with the sweeter bacon and were flavorful without being overpowering with the saltier varieties.

The dark side! Black Market Liberation IPA, Ommegang Dubbel, Schneider Weisse Aventinus Doppelbock and Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier-Marzen
The dark side! Black Market Liberation IPA, Ommegang Dubbel, Schneider Weisse Aventinus Doppelbock and Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier-Marzen

Two “secret beers” were brought out at the end, a peaty but sweet Norwegian beer by Nogne and a Rogue Chocolate Stout. I was glad I had mostly saved my chocolate bacon for last, as paired with the chocolate stout, it was such a treat.

Lemon sorbet
Lemon sorbet “Apricotopus” float

As if drinking an incredible stout while munching caramel, chocolate bacon goodness wasn’t enough, they had one more surprise in store that wasn’t listed on the menu. As a palate cleanser for the end of the night, there was a little lemon sorbet float with, my current favorite summer beer, Parallel 49 Apricotopus. As the name suggests this is an apricot beer, a sour saison to be precise, and it is just a complete burst of flavor. Combined with the sorbet – I was in fruit beer heaven and I will definitely be doing this at home!

For their inaugural event I think Craft Cellars did a really good job with this tasting and it was definitely excellent value for money! I would have liked to have had the tasting element more refined, however, and leave out trying the bacon with the beers that did not work with it at all. I actually think if we tasted the first four light beers with the first four bacon types and then the next four with the dark beers, that would have been perfect! My palate was just a little confused trying that many things in one sitting; luckily they did have little melon balls set out for a refresh when you got too many flavors going.

I had such a fun evening regardless, and I am excited to see what they might have in store for upcoming events! I also will be on a mission to recreate that maple-glazed prosciutto…it’s deliciousness haunts my dreams…

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