January 24, 2013
Bartender, what's this bacon doing in my beer?

Suicide IPA.JPG

If you've been out and about the last couple of days, you'll know that Sacramento's weeklong BaconFest is in full throttle at numerous pubs and restaurants. We dropped by Pangaea Two Brews on Franklin Boulevard last night after dinner to take part in the experience. I had their now-famous - or instantly notorious - "Suicide IPA," which is a blend of 4 or 5 of the IPAs on tap, garnished with a strip of bacon.

An IPA, of course, can have - and should have - plenty of that hoppy bitterness greeting the front of the palate. Sometimes that's balanced with a sweet or fruity finish, sometimes not. The "Suicide" tends to tone things down rather than ramp them up.

"What's good about blending them," bartender Nate Burns told me, "is that it kind of takes away specific characteristics of one IPA, but it also hides the weaknesses of each."

In other words, those rough edges are smoothed out a tad. And the bacon? Not only does it give you something to chew on, and offer, ahem, a more complete nutritional profile to your evening drinking experience, but it tends to counteract that telltale IPA bitterness.

It worked for me. And these were no ordinary IPAs. Included in the Suicide blend last night were Pliny the Elder, Sculpin and Track 7 Panic. Lynn had the Panic, brewed just a couple of miles away, and it was first-rate.

Bacon burger.jpg

Brian Guido, one of the volunteer organizers of the second annual BaconFest, tells me he and John Conley, who did the impressive BaconFest graphics, went on something of a BaconFest crawl last night on foot, beginning in Old Sac at 1022 and winding up at Red Rabbit, stopping at Ella, Grange, and Lucca along the way. Tonight, he'll be at Enotria, which is doing a bacon-focused prix fixe menu in place of its regular menu. Guido says that event is sold out - all three dinner seatings. The Enotria menu includes "The Elvis for dessert -- a banana, bacon and peanut butter creation of some kind. The Chef's Challenge finale on Sunday at Mulvaney's sold out in two days. The prix fixe BaconFest dinner at Formoli's on Monday? That's right - it sold out, too.

What does all this say about the Sacramento dining scene? That we're obsessed with bacon? No, it means there is an enthusiasm and momentum building in and around this city. More and more people want to support cool and exciting events focused on food and drink. Next month, the momentum continues with Sacramento Beer Week.

But until then, feel free to "praise the lard" and dig in to BaconFest. Bacon corn dogs. Bacon crème brulee. Bacon on your pizza. Bacon French toast. BLTs of all kinds. Bacon in your beer, your bourbon. It's all good and it's lots of fun.

For more details on what's happening, check out the BaconFest Facebook page here.

Blair Anthony Robertson is The Bee's restaurant critic. Follow him on Twitter, @blarob.

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