What is this mysterious, iconic connection between geeks and bacon? Go to a website like ThinkGeek! that markets products to proudly self-identified geeks – science and IT geeks in particular – and you’ll find no end of tee-shirts, soaps, pens, shower curtains, refrigerator magnets and whatnot that reference bacon in some way.
While the pop-culture association with STEMheads remains a bit murky, it’s not difficult to understand the pull of bacon on the human palate: that tantalizing smell that sorely tempts vegetarians and dieters to lapse. We know that it’s irredeemably bad for our cardiovascular health, but we crave it anyway.
That brings us to the presumed rationale behind the creation of the Beer, Bourbon & Bacon Festival, a side project of the Hudson Valley Brew Festival that returns to the Dutchess Fairgrounds on Saturday, June 18. It’s not where you’d want to live your whole life, maybe, but it does promise one rare and glorious afternoon of unrepentant hedonism. And your Designated Driver not only qualifies for a cheaper ticket price, but also gets to chow down on bacon-flavored everything imaginable as compensation for his or her abstinence from alcohol.
Featured providers of tiny tastes of bourbon include four from New York State – 1911 Spirits, Hudson Valley Distillers, Black Dirt Distillery and Tuthilltown Spirits/Hudson Whiskey – plus three other artisan distillers. Similarly, the long list of microbreweries leans heavily-but-not-exclusively toward New York, with 23 of the 61 “official” breweries, cideries and meaderies being based in our home state. Among them are such local favorites as Kingston’s Keegan Ales, Poughkeepsie’s Mill House Brewing Co., Sloop Brewing and Blue Collar Brewery, the Newburgh Brewing Co., Chester’s Rushing Duck Brewing Co., the Peekskill Brewery, Elmsford’s Captain Lawrence Brewing Co., Warwick’s Naked Flock and Doc’s Draft Hard Cider and Albany’s Nine Pin Cider Works. Only two breweries from outside the US are represented, both from Denmark – and one of them, Mikkeler, has been known to produce a limited-edition flavor called Beer Geek Bacon.
Bourbon and beer samples are included in the regular ticket price, but food must be purchased separately. Vendors announced so far include Handsome Devil BBQ, Janek’s, Kath’s Catering, Vinnie’s Bacon Pizza. Elia’s Catering in Highland will operate a Bacon Bar where you can buy “flights” of five different bacon samples to accompany your beer flights. Be aware that it’s a festival tradition to wear pretzels on a string around your neck to use as palate-cleansers between tastes!
The Beer, Bourbon & Bacon Festival runs from 2 to 6 p.m. ($100 VIP ticketholders get early admission at 1 p.m.) on Saturday, June 18 at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds, located at 6550 Spring Brook Avenue (Route 9) in Hyde Park, rain or shine. No one under age 21 will be admitted. There will be live music all afternoon from Professor Louie & the Crowmatix, Payne’s Grey Sky and Painted Blue Sky. Tickets cost $55 at the gate, $45 in advance, $15 ($35 VIP) for Designated Drivers. To purchase, or for more information, visit www.beerbourbonbacon.com or www.facebook.com/hudsonvalleybrewfestival.