Bourbon and bacon go hog wild this weekend at Keystone Resort festival
The Bacon and Bourbon Festival, formerly known as the Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival, will sizzle this Saturday and Sunday. Aside from thousands of pounds of bacon and numerous other bacon-inspired drinks and dishes, festival goers can enjoy six live music performances for free. The musical acts include Pandas and People, One Flew West, Coaltown Reunion, Mike Clark and The Sugar Sounds and Hell’s Belles, an AC/DC cover band.
Over the course of the weekend, there will be five seminars on bacon preparation and the wide world of bourbon. For a brief getaway from the crowd and music, visit the Quaking Aspen Amphitheatre on the edge of festival grounds for the bacon education center seminars.
For those that are truly passionate about cured pork belly or for those that simply want to learn more about the specialty food, Keystone’s Bacon and Bourbon Festival is awarding diplomas to bacon university graduates.
BACKGROUND IN BACON
A love of bacon is — for most — inherited at birth.
“I think you’re born with a love of bacon,” said Jason Morse, founder and owner of 5280 Culinary and BBQ Provisions, who will be leading one of the bacon seminars.
Jason Morse is a member of the Colorado Pork Producers Council and a BBQ-lover turned entrepreneur. Morse is one of the founders of 5280 Culinary, a consulting business that offers numerous services for hospitality and food service as well as a high-end line of BBQ products sold nationally through Ace Hardware. Needless to say, Morse knows his way around a grill.
“As a chef and a grilling maniac, bacon is always a mainstay on my menus and in the grill,” said Morse.
At the festival, Morse will be leading a seminar called “Makin’ Bacon: The art of handcrafted bacon, in your home” at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The seminar aims to empower bacon lovers to create the bacon they’ve always dreamed of through proper selection, seasoning, curing, smoking and slicing.
“My goal is really to show consumers how easy it is to make bacon and control flavors and ingredients the entire way,” Morse said. “Starting with the fresh, natural pork belly and moving through the steps of brining, rubbing, smoking and finally to eating.”
The same seminar that will be held this weekend, 5280 holds year-round at various Ace Hardware locations around the country. Bacon is a staple ingredient used in their recipes to demonstrate and promote their products.
This is Morse’s first year participating at the festival and he has nothing but good things to say about bacon.
“It has everything you want. Sweet, salty and smoky. Oh and pork fat, who doesn’t love that?”
ON A BACON JOURNEY
Marshall Porter is no stranger to “the gateway meat.” He is one of the founders — or chief bacon officer, as he likes to call it — of the Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival in Des Moines, Iowa.
Porter and co-founder Brooks Reynolds have taken their passion for bacon to another level entirely. Since the early 2000s, the two have been spreading bacon knowledge and raising money for charities while doing so. This weekend the Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival will partner with the Keystone Neighbourhood Company to benefit the Friends of the Dillon Ranger District.
Porter has been a face of Keystone’s bacon festival since its beginning, teaching seminars and rousing excitement amongst fellow enthusiasts.
“This will be the fifth year that I will be speaking at the Keystone Bacon and Bourbon Festival,” said Porter. “The seminar is all about bacon. (It’s) very fun and interactive. Everyone is just sharing their bacon knowledge, everyone is on their own bacon journey.”
The “Earn a Bacon Diploma” seminar will cover a lot of ground, from discussing the main ingredient — the pig itself — and how it’s fed, cared for, butchered, processed and cured to the types of cures, flavors, smokes and slicing techniques.
“Keystone’s festival is really special because it allows families to come together in their bacon love together,” said Porter.
Camp Bacon, a seminar for kids, will also be led by Porter. “These bacon lovers are our future,” he said.
The camp will feature songs led by this year’s “bacon queen” Courtney Bettner.
BETTER WITH BOURBON
It’s no secret that bacon and bourbon complement each other. A highlight of this year’s festival is the expansion of the Jim Beam Tour, which attracts bourbon connoisseurs from near and far. One of the seminars this year is “The Art of Building Bourbon and Whiskey.”
“Bacon goes well with anything — especially bourbon, which has that little sweeter note of caramel or vanilla with it,” said Chris Galante, with Jim Beam.
The seminar will take participants on a trip through specialty Kentucky bourbon with a tasting session that features four different marks unique to Beam. Makers Mark Private Select, Baker’s seven-year Kentucky Straight Bourbon, Basil Hayden’s Rye and the Jim Beam Double Oak will all be discussed.
Some of these bourbons can’t be found at just any bar, so don’t miss the opportunity to cleanse your palate between bacon binges.