Beer, Bourbon & BBQ Festival
When we heard the Beer, Bourbon & BBQ Festival's 10th Anniversary Tour was rolling into town, we couldn't pass up the opportunity to have a belly full of beer, bourbon, and barbecue. This weekend at The Tunnel, a really cool industrial-looking venue on the West Side, we certainly feasted on some familiar favorites when it comes to beer, strong spirits, and bacon-y barbecue. The early session of the day was mainly focused on bacon, whereas the later session had more of a focus on the whole hog (as demonstrated by the whole hog pulled pork demo at the Porkus Maximus stand). I thought the whole event was really well-organized and carefully thought-out, from the glass cups that you carried from table to table to reduce waste of a billion plastic cups to the frequent water stations and buckets for rinsing residual booze from said cups.
The Tunnel is shaped very much like it sounds, a long cavernous hallway running the length of an avenue. On either side, there were plenty of breweries with a wide variety of beers on tap. One room off the side of the tunnel had more beers, lots more food, and hard liquor. We saw some familiar beers that we'd tasted at Coney Island On Tap, Ciderfeast, and other food events: Angry Orchard, Woodchuck, Shiner Bock, Crabbie's Ginger Beer, and Downeast were present. One of our new favorites was Traveler Beer's grapefruit shandy: sweet, refreshing, and grapefruit-y, but not cloying. A fun flavor was the S'mores porter from Saranac, which smelled like caramel and (ironically) coconut. We reminisced about our self-declared Belgian Beer O'Clock with Delirium and Kwak.
Of course, all this beer and no food would not be a good idea. Intermittently, we had some delicious (also salty and fatty and probably terrible-for-you) barbecue and barbecue-adjacent foods. First up was a solid chili and jalapeno corn bread with bacon jam. The bacon jam was surprisingly addictive! The most guilt-inducing thing had to be the bacon buffet...6 different kinds of bacon, flavored with everything from pepper to bourbon to rum. On my way to the event, I listened to a podcast about the recommended daily intake of sodium, and it's a safe bet that one mouthful of bacon would have put me over the limit. That's not to say it wasn't tasty, though; I gobbled down every last bacon strip. Yes, incredibly salty, but also a guilty pleasure.
We also sampled brisket sliders, pulled pork sliders with coleslaw, baked beans and collared greens, and brisket with potato salad. A few of the more interesting creations included the Bacon Explosion (sausage stuffed with bacon - very yummy, in a nasty you-don't-want-to-know-how-the-sausage-is-made kind of way) and the breakfast sausage with (get this) blueberry muffin mix mixed in! It was very clever and tasted pretty good! Lastly, and this was my absolute favorite that I kept going back for, was the burnt ends by Butcher Bar. They cubed the burnt ends and skewered them on forks like little black meat lollipops. I popped one in my mouth and barely had time to react, since it basically melted on my tongue. It was incredible: perfectly seasoned, fatty, and unctuous.
Don't forget about the bourbon now! I didn't really have the tolerance to swig all the bourbons and other liquors present, but we did try SABI Wasabi Whiskey which (surprise, surprise) tasted like wasabi but without the burn at the top of your head. My favorite, and Alex might disagree, was the moonshine (yes, lots of moonshine options here!) by Sugarland. Alex had the original flavor, and I had butterscotch. He was coughing and sputtering after taking that shot, but I downed my (tiny) shot like a champ! Just teasing - I had one single drop of the original moonshine afterwards and it burned like crazy. Butterscotch flavor is the way to go! Super sweet and tasted just like melted butterscotch candy, actually a little cloying, but enough so that the burn of the alcohol doesn't make me want to gag. That was a super fun shot to have. ;)
There's something exciting about having barbecue in the middle of winter in NYC. Okay, so it hasn't been a terrible winter yet, but there's still snow on the ground. It was like an oasis of summer fun and all the delectable tastes of summer. Can't wait for the real thing in a few months!
Thanks to the folks who organized BBBBQ!