I started my day out walking into Victory Field. Upon entry, I was handed a miniature ceramic red solo cup for beer tasting. With a rumble in my stomach and a thirst for exceptional brew, I quickly noticed how long the lines were for near-the-entrance-proximity vendors and decided to dive deeper into the heart of the Indianapolis Bacon and Beer Classic.
The first 3 samples I had were… beer. I mean, I was more thirsty than hungry and how can you go wrong with Ram’s 71 Pale Ale followed by Dogfish Head’s 90 Minute Imperial IPA and sealed with Tow Yard’s Horse Power Double IPA? My face was starting to get red but my stomach was pale, so I decided to start waiting in long lines for BACON!
My first bite of the day was Brockway Public House’s Mashed Potatoes & Gravy with Bacon Wrapped Sausage. Delicious!
Then, onto Fermenti Artisan’s candied Smoking Goose Bacon with Caprini Creamery Hard Grated Goat Cheese. I was excited to try it based on the description, but the slaw underneath was a bit too vinegary and the bacon wasn’t even detected on my pork-loving pallet.
I turned around to the next long awaited long line and quickly claimed my spot to try Oakley’s Bistro’s Waffle-Crusted Candied Bacon with Maple Pomegranate Glaze. Strip by strip, they hung by clothesline pins as patrons cautiously selected their hot bacon strip of choosing. I was blown away, and then I was quickly asked to move away because the flavor in my mouth at that moment had stopped me in my tracks, and I had consequently stopped the flow of bacon traffic. A horrible offense, but I was quickly forgiven.
I savored the bacon for a good 30-45 seconds and then I thought, “I need a beer.” I stopped over at Tinman Brewery’s for an Apricot Sour. Now, I usually don’t like sours, but I’ve been extremely impressed in the past, so I decided to give it a taste. I didn’t like it as much as I hoped. I went over to grab Fountain Square’s Soul Ride IPA and I was back in IPA mode.
I made my way around the field and skipped all the sweet concoctions because I felt like I had to eat more bacon before I ate bacon desserts. That’s just how I was raised.
I meandered over to Latitude 360’s tent to grab a bacon cheeseburger slider. Not only were people getting what I would award “The Largest Sample” at B & B Classic, but also spinning the wheel of freebies – free bowling, comedy tickets, arcade cards, movie tickets and more.
I kept moving and found myself noshing on yet another strip of bacon, but this time it was The Pint Room’s beer bacon. I asked, “What makes this ‘beer’ bacon?” To which I received the explanation that it was simply bacon with a BBQ rub spice and no beer in the recipe. I looked puzzled and the man running the booth told me that The Pint Room has a lot of beer… this is bacon…. this is beer bacon. So, bacon that goes with your beer.
Moving on, I found myself chewing on a bacon chocolate marshmallow from The Melting Pot because I thought it was time to surrender to my sweet tooth. I wasn’t too impressed by the Kraft marshmallows dipped in milk chocolate fondue with bacon bits. This one gets my “Kidz Choice” award.
As I made my way back to the front of Victory Field I came across The District Tap’s samples of Jamaican Bacon Kabobs. They used extremely thick chunks of center cut bacon to accompany cubed pineapple, red and green bell peppers, and onions. They also seemed to have something of a tangy jerk glaze rubbed on top. My faith in bacon was restored.
Right next to The District Tap was The Exchange Pub & Kitchen. They were divvying out what they entitled Baby’s Bacon Peach Cobbler. It was the perfect brunch dessert. So good, I made sure to get two samples.
At this point lines were starting to dwindle, so I had another three beer samples from Ram Restaurant & Brewery. Two more 71 Pale Ales down the hatch and a White IPA for the road. I was starting to feel it.
At this point, I met with a great friend and fellow foodie, Sandi Palombi. She started to guide me toward the mega-popular sweet sample that came from 240 Sweet. A fire roasted beer marshmallow rolled in cocoa powder, bacon, and almond granola stared me in the face. I held the stick with purpose. I marveled at the level of genius it exuded compared to The Melting Pot’s weak attempt at baconizing a chocolate marshmallow.
I graciously tipped the marshmallow into my mouth and began having, as best as I can describe it, a smorgasm. I’m sad that they are located in Columbus, IN, but their website says that they sell their marshmallows at Homespun: Modern Handmade shop on Massachusetts Ave here in Indy! They win the Best Bacon Dessert award.
As I stopped for a moment to savor my smorgasm, Sandi was waving me toward Kona Brewing’s booth for their Big Wave golden ale. It was a bit of a tropical boost to get my taste buds bubbling again.
I made my way to O’Fallon Brewery, out of St. Louis, MO, for a Wheach – their peach flavored American Wheat. I usually don’t like fruity beers (like the Apricot Sour) but this Weach had great balance. I was refreshed and feeling great soaking in the sun.
I walked over to the next booth to sip my brew and wait for Urban Chestnut Brewing’s Schnickelfritz. The Schnickelfritz is a Bavarian Weissbier, or more vaguely, a European lager. It wasn’t as sweet as the Weach that had just left my mouth, but I could certainly taste a bit of banana.
Moving closer to home plate on my second lap around, I found Macenzie River Pizza’s booth with a fresh batch of Meatloaf Bites going into the chaffer. These bacon meatloaf balls were doused in some sort of magical sauce that really brought out a unique and amazing flavor I’ve never had in a meatball or a slice of meatloaf! It was one of those items that you look at and immediately know what to expect, but this meatloaf bite really took me by surprise.
Further down, I saw Quaff On! Brewery and snagged a cup of their Candied Bacon Mojo Popcorn (love the name). Popcorn is one of my all-time favorite snacks and I love when people make delicious versions different from the classic buttery or kettle flavors. This batch was tossed in cumin, sea salt, maple, and a bit of ghost chili. Then it was topped with bacon that was ground up in a coffee grinder. I could see tiny fibers of the bacon on the pieces of popcorn.
I stepped over to grab a Busted Knuckle from Quaff On! and there I was… sipping one of my favorite porters, eating bacon mojo popcorn, and looking out at a baseball field. It just made sense. I finished both and went back to Tow Yard for yet another Horse Power double IPA. That made it my 13th beer sample of the day, and at 4oz pours, that brought me to 52 ounces of hoppy happiness.
I made my way to Shoefly Public House’s booth for their Bacon & Ghost Pepper Cheese Hush Puppies. I ate three of them one after the other because of how melt-in-your mouth they were. That, and I was afraid that if I stopped, the heat would eventually catch up to me and cause suffering. If you haven’t been to Shoefly on 22nd street, I suggest you plan your next lunch there (another story I’ll be covering soon) .
I ran over to Bier Brewery for a Weizengoot to extinguish the heat. Their hefeweizen went down easy and was very satisfying. I looked over at Grand Junction’s sign and read Maple Bacon Dark Road Porter. Ok. Yes. I didn’t have a choice. I was obligated to drink it, in my opinion. A bacon beer that wasn’t too strange and didn’t make me think to myself, “Ahh… That’s why there isn’t bacon beer.” I enjoyed it as much as I appreciated it and that’s why Grand Junction gets my “Literally” award.
Since I was still chasing ghost pepper remnants away from the hush puppies, I found myself at People’s Brewery to fill my cup with their Phantom Assassin IPA. As I was enjoying yet another IPA, I noticed a cool mini keg growler sitting with some of their merchandise. I pointed at one of them, trying to get Sandi to notice its coolness. I then learned that you could attach a separate CO2 cartridge fixture and pressurize whatever beer you decide to fill it with, which is awesome.
Finding myself with a limited 30 minutes left to eat as much bacon and try as many beers as I could, I went over to Ember Urban Eatery and tried their Sorghum Sowbelly BLT Bites. I was sure nothing was going to beat Oakley’s Bistro. Covered with a healthy amount of beer aioli, the BLT bites got my “Best Of” award. Incredibly mouth-watering and addicting, I plan on visiting them for lunch or dinner downtown very soon.
For my 30th sample, I requested my cup be filled with the Dubbel Dedication from Taxman Brewery. Their abbey-style dubbel is dark and intimidating with an 8% ABV, but I was amazed at how easy it was to drink. I threw it down the hatch and walked to Flat 12 to grab a Hinchtown Hammer Down. Described as a pilsner-style beer, I shot the whole thing back in one gulp because I was running out of time and that’s really the only proper way to drink a pilsner or pilsner-style beer anyway.
As the countdown to cut-off drew closer, I remembered a sweet tooth sample I passed earlier and backtracked a bit to grab a Hard Rock Café Twist & Shout Shake. It looked like a chocolate shake with bacon on it, so I took a big gulp and quickly realized that it was more of a mudslide shake with a generous amount of liquor. And just like a strip of bacon garnished in any decent bloody mary, the bacon sprinkles on top were right at home.
I ran back to where I was previously and snagged the last Bacon Jam Bruschetta from Loughmiller’s Pub & Eatery. Topped with a piece of gruyere cheese, I savored the last bit of smokey bacon-salsa crunch that Loughmiller’s had to offer.
With no time to be upset about not getting anymore, I got a quick fill of Taxman’s La Maison Farmhouse Ale. A citrusy and sweet fragrance lifted from the head as I tried to pick up all of its aromatic clues.
I shot over to Wooden Bear Brewing for my very last tasting. I asked for the Cougar Town Brown, and walked away knowing I was their very last pour. I sipped on it as long as I could before security started waving me toward the exit.
I couldn’t leave right away though, because I had started a game of adult-size Jenga with Sandi. It was getting very competitive and I was trying to ignore instructions to leave the area from volunteers. What kept me playing was the fact that this tower of power had reached eye-level amazement and on-lookers started putting money on each block pull. I heard, “I got $5 you’ll topple it.”
After an effortless turn he insisted again, “$5 says you can’t get one from the bottom.” So I situated myself facing away from the ominous block tower and ripped a block away from between my legs in a feat that could only be inspired by mass amounts of beer and bacon consumption. I grabbed the two $1 bills he set on top and left with a smile on my face, a belly full of beer and a security volunteer’s hand on my back.