I don’t fuck around when it comes to beer and bacon. So when I saw that Alaskan Brewing Co. was hosting an outdoor event paying homage to both, I jumped at the chance to buy a ticket. I’m glad I did, because not only did the event draw a huge sellout crowd, it successfully delivered on the simplistic awesomeness that comprises two of my favorite food groups.
Restaurants from around Anchorage gathered in the outdoor area between the Millennium Hotel and Lake Spenard; the savory smells of bacon and cheese and beer permeated the damp air. I arrived early, as is my custom, and was greeted by friendly staff and short lines. With my camera in tow, I made my way in to the proverbial Garden of Eden, a paradise of sights, sounds, and smells.
Canopies formed a wedge down the sides of the garden, each one home to a different area restaurant dishing up their own personal homage to the fatty crispy goodness that is fried hog belly. In the middle of the garden sat two low square tables centered by a bed of flaming coals; altars to the sacrifices we were all about to make to the gods of food and merriment. A musician was setting up by the gate; his accompaniment would be the Hallelujah chorus of our feast. Naturally my first stop was to the beer booth, where I quickly procured a Dixie cup full of my favorite in state brew, the wonderfully light and crisp Alaskan Summer Ale.
Being of good Southern stock and never shy of a food line, I prepped my camera and jumped into line at the closest food booth. It was the Tri Grill Restaurant and they were dishing up hot and fresh Bacon Mac & Cheese. It was the perfect way to start off my voyage, well cooked and creamy with a thick and chewy top layer of melted cheddar and subtle overtones of smoky bacon, but it left me craving more.
Next up were our friends from Anchorage Night Out. They were simmering up a crock pot full of Bacon Double Cheeseburger Dip boasting everything you love about a cheeseburger in an appetizer-friendly format fit for football game-day activities. It was thick and hearty and filling, the kind of greasy goodness my body usually craves during a hangover, but still not quite the bacon shot to the brain I was looking for.
Anchorage Night Out dishing up their Bacon Double Cheeseburger Dip
The next stand was staffed by Bombshell Bites, and the lovely ladies delivered a strong punch with their appropriately-named Sassy Piggy. It was a delightful combination of garlic and bacon mashed potatoes, topped with freshly shredded cheese and garnished with a crispy stick of bacon. This dish was a treat and my taste buds tingled as the creamy goodness rolled across my tongue. The salty and crunchy bacon was superb, complete with a chewy strip of skin that you often find on the really good stuff. Maybe it was just my Deep Southern roots speaking to me, but I knew that this dish was going to be hard to beat. Being the good, fair-minded and honest person that I am. though, I felt obligated to give the remaining vendors a chance to sway my taste buds and my vote.
Even my lens got a little blurry eyed…
I wandered from booth to booth, greeted by some worthy contenders. There was the Bamboo BLT from Urban Bamboo. It was loaded with porky goodness and a light creamy mayo that finished cleanly with a gulp of my beer. The sandwich was a welcome treat given how bland I find a standard BLT, but it wasn’t the only BLT contender in the ring. Across the way sat its challenger, The BLT Bruschetta courtesy of the K – crew at Midnight Sun Brewing Co. The BLT Bruschetta was a heavy hitter, leading with a healthy right hook of pecanwood smoked bacon. It complemented it with some fancy footwork from the peppery arugula while teasing my taste buds with tangy sun dried tomatoes. Then it went straight for the KO with a finishing of spicy chipotle mayo. It was deliciously delivered on a crisp baguette that left my tongue sprawled out waiting for the 10 count. But could it capture my heart and soul the way the Sassy Pig had?
In the One Corner “The Bamboo BLT”
And it’s opponent, in the other corner and hailing from the Land of the Midnight Sun Brewery…
The Flipside Café offered up the only dessert dish in the board affair, a rich and salty sweet explosion appropriately titled the Bacon Bomb. This brownie treat was concocted using an Oatmeal Stout, peanut butter, and bacon. It was delicious and should have probably been my final stop of the day, but in the name of science I was following a very strict sampling methodology.
Big things come in small packages…
How to Build a Bomb (L) and tangy Bacon Wrapped Pineapple (R)
Fried Scallop. Bacon. Simple. Effective.
By two o’clock I had made my way through all of the booths. All of them offered tasty teasers. Some were as simple as wrapping some other ingredient in bacon, such as the bacon-wrapped asparagus from the Deck at Lake Hood, the Millenium Hotel’s bacon-wrapped reindeer sausage, or the scrumptious fried scallop wrapped in bacon from the Fancy Moose. They were great appetizers, but not quite vote worthy, my palate and my vote demanded more. Outside my Garden of Eden, the admission line grew till it nearly wrapped around the hotel building into the main parking lot. Inside the beer booth line was just as long. And so with other things to do on my Saturday agenda, I bid farewell to Paradise. But before I left, I dropped my ballot for the Sassy Piggy as my inner child and Southern roots squealed with delight.
Lets not forget the beer… and check out the rest of the gallery here.