Bacon and Brew Pairings

One of the things that we love about bacon is that it’s a very egalitarian kind of food product. People from all walks of life, cultures, and foodie persuasions appreciate bacon's reputation for being a delicious, hearty food for people on a budget, easy to cook, and gives a wonderful, deep flavor for many simple dishes. Bacon’s full flavor, means that a little can go a long way, and that even straightforward food can be elevated by bacon’s deliciousness.

But bacon’s versatility means that it isn’t just relegated to the plates of beginner chefs and tailgate parties. With very little effort, bacon can be a downright sophisticated ingredient. Bacon actually has a lot in common with beer in this way: both are affordable, delicious, and have a reputation for their simplicity and straightforwardness. But as any fan of craft beer will tell you, beer can be just as hoity-toity as wine any day.

In celebration of bacon’s simplicity and sophistication, I thought I would look at some of the ways that bacon and beer can be paired together for a truly civilized tasting experience!

Choosing the Right Beer
It’s generally recommended that you choose a lighter beer to pair with bacon. Very heavy beers, like dark ales and stouts, can be too much, when paired with the smokiness of bacon. Some moderately dark beers, like porters or chocolaty stouts, however, can be very nice, if paired with sweeter bacon, such as bacon that has been cured with maple syrup, or candied with brown sugar.

Generally, a light beer with a strong flavor is the way to go, as these beers cut through the saltiness and delicious fattiness of the bacon quite well. Pale lagers are a particularly excellent choice, such as a pilsner or a Kölsch. These beers have bright flavors and a distinct, slightly bitter hoppiness to them that brings out the natural sweetness of bacon just perfectly.

Choosing the Right Bacon
For any beer and bacon tasting party, I recommend choosing a thick-cut bacon, so that the flavor of the meat can be fully appreciated. It should be cooked so that the fat is crispy but not at all burnt, so that the harsh, carbon taste won’t interfere with the pairing. Heavily or artificially flavored bacon might not be the best choice, as this can also interfere with the more natural tasting. Bacon that is lightly and naturally smoked with hickory or applewood would be an excellent choice, however, so would bacon seasoned with peppercorns. It can be fun to experiment with different cuts of bacon as well, such as Irish bacon and Canadian bacon.

Go throw a beer and bacon tasting party, and let us know how it goes. Happy pairing!