Beer, BBQ, and bacon are like your best friends from the old neighborhood. They’re all different, but somehow they belong together. They can pick up, effortlessly, right where they left off.
The reunion happens again this weekend, on May 21, in Morristown, at the Beer, BBQ, and Bacon Showdown. Since I represent the beer section of town, let’s have a look at what some of the gang is up to now. Twenty New Jersey breweries will be serving up four selections each, so my ‘hood will be well represented. That’s a good thing because barbecue has many styles and flavors. It can bring vinegar, mustard, tomato, smoke, or sweetness, so we’d better be prepared to talk about anything.
First, there’s another B that wasn’t actually invited to the party but that we should probably mention. Bourbon. So many barbecue sauces use it as an ingredient, it’s hard to ignore. Flying Fish, that neighborhood stalwart, will be bringing its Abbey ale aged in Knob Hill bourbon barrels. Longtime residents Cricket Hill and River Horse will both be bringing barrel aged Barleywines while a new kid on the block, Angry Erik will offer a bourbon barrel aged porter.
Every once in a while, you have to change the conversation to keep things interesting. Barbecue and bacon are bold flavors and it’s good to have a contrasting view point. How about something light and crisp with a kiss of hops to cut through the fat and freshen the palate? Beach Haus, Ramstein, River Horse, and Brix City will all be pouring pilsners that should be the answer you’re looking for. As a bonus, Ramstein’s is an imperial version.
Every group of friends has something in common that keeps them together. Coffee and chocolate flavors sit side by side with the rich caramelized nature of most barbecue. Beach Haus has it covered with an Irish Coffee Stout made with locally sourced coffee. Cypress, 902 Brewing Co., Flounder, Man Skirt, Two Ton, Brix City, and Dark City are all doing their own take on porter. There is everything from traditional, to chocolate and vanilla and even brettanomyces funk! You know there’s going to be smoke too. Ramstein will have a smoked lager while Man Skirt has a full-on Rauchbier. You’ll also find a touch of smoke at Tuckahoe and Jersey Girl—both feature smoked porter.
Finally, let’s give a nod to that crazy friend. The unpredictable outliers keep us guessing. Bolero Snort’s cask-conditioned Strawberry Wheat Saison could be fun. Forgotten Boardwalk and Demented have twisted things up with Funnel Cake and Astarte-Strawberry cream ale respectively. Pair with sweet barbecue or just dessert? Your guess is as good as mine. One thing I’m sure of is that Kane Brewing’s Port Omna Kreamsicle Stout, featuring orange zest and vanilla, is going to be tasty. What it pairs with will just be a happy accident!
Oh, in case you’re wondering, IPA will be there, too. In fact, he’ll be everywhere in every form you can imagine. It’s just not a party without IPA.
Find the full lineup here.