The Denver Bacon and Beer Festival is back for its fourth iteration this year, but fans of swine and ale can get a jump on the festival crowd by attending the Bacon and Beer Brewers’ Dinner the night before. The dinner – now in its third year – pairs five chefs and five breweries for a hog filled evening at The Lobby from 6 to 9 p.m. on Saturday, November 7.
“Attendees can look forward to an excellent paired meal,” said Imbibe Events organizer, Alexandra Weissner. “We have some of the top restaurants and breweries participating in this dinner.”
Unlike trying to find a match for, say, an asparagus, unlocking the mysteries of a good bacon and beer pairing was an undertaking most involved were more than willing to undertake.
“Bacon is just something that chefs like to play with,” said The Lobby’s operating partner, Christian Batizy. “It’s a party pleaser. It’s easy to work with and it’s hot right now.”
The Lobby’s dish takes the traditional food and drink pairing one step further, incorporating actual ingredients from the Spangalang-brewed barleywine into the recipe. The end result from sous chef, Steve Doniher, is a hop-cured pork belly confit.
“It’s basically pork two ways,” explained Batizy. “[Doniher] fries the fat portion of the belly and pulls the meat portion and puts it on top.”
The dish will be accompanied by beer-sautéed kale, mashed potatoes, Brussels sprout leaves and “liquid gold,” the Lobby’s take on a traditional Carolina mustard-based barbecue sauce.
Bacon – while the obvious headliner of the dinner and festival – was not the ingredient Batizy focused on when working with Spangalang on the ideal pairing.
“Depending on what you put it in, bacon is usually an underlying flavor and is not necessarily the entire palate,” he said. “I tend to pair something with the sauce.”
The Lobby dish will serve as the fourth course of this pork-forward evening. Diners will begin the evening with a welcome beer from Denver stalwart and next-door neighbor, Great Divide, who will be pouring their Fresh Hop Pale Ale.
Second Home Kitchen & Bar will serve up crispy razor clam “chowder” with semolina crusted razor clams, braised Tender Belly bacon, poached potatoes, celery, clam and bacon broth for the third course matched with Colorado Wild Sage from Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project.
Fourth up is the aforementioned Lobby and Spangalang pairing. MAX’s Wine Dive and Call to Arms Brewing Company will wrap things up with a vanilla porter pound cake with peanut butter and banana gelato with candied bacon paired with Oats and Hose, an oatmeal porter.
Beyond the mouthwatering food and beer combinations, diners will also have the opportunity to chat with the creators of each course.
“Each brewery will have a representative present to talk about their beers and discuss how they pair with the dish,” explained Weissner. “One nice thing is that this dinner is very intimate and they will also be able to engage with the breweries during the welcome beer and post-dessert.”