One of the things that we love about bacon is that it’s a very egalitarian kind of food product. Bacon is not usually the first thing that leaps to mind when you think about fancy meals. People from all walks of life, many cultures, and of all levels of income. Bacon has a reputation for being a delicious, hearty food for people on a budget, and gives a wonderful, deep flavour for many simple dishes. Bacon’s reasonable price, and full flavour, means that a little can go a long way, and that even striaghtforward food can be elevated by bacon’s deliciousness.
Bacon can also be successfully prepared by just about everyone, regardless of culinary skill. One of the first things that college students tend to master when they’re on their own for the first time (aside from macaroni and cheese) is bacon. Even someone who burns toast can crisp some bacon and fry eggs in a pan.
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 a lot in common with beer in this way: both are cheap, delicious, and have a reputation for their simplicity and straightforwardness. But as any fan of microbrews will tell you, beer can be just as hoity-toity as wine any day.
In celebration of bacon’s simplicity and sophistication, we thought we 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, however, can be very nice if paired with sweeter bacon, like bacon that has been cured with maple syrup or candied with brown sugar.
Generally, a light beer with a strong flavour is the way to go, as these beers cut through the saltiness and delicious fattiness of the bacon very well. Pale lagers are a particularly excellent choice, such as a pilsner or a Kölsch. These beers have bright flavours 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, we recommend choosing a thick-cut bacon, so that the flavour of the meat an 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 flavoured 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, as would bacon seasoned with peppercorns. It mean be fun to experiment with different cuts of bacon as well, such as Irish bacon and Canadian bacon.
Why don’t you throw and beer and bacon tasting party, and let us know how it goes? Happy pairing!