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Keystone Festivals is entering its 13th year of the Bacon and Bourbon Festival, which means we are pretty much experts at all things bacon. Check out some bacon pairings your taste buds won’t believe.

We have seen our amazing vendors make hundreds of delicious recipes and keep coming back year after year with incredible menu items and unique ideas. Bacon suppliers Berkwood Farms, City Meat Market, and  Des Moines Bacon Company always bring the most incredible bacon. 

So, this year, we wanted to bring you our ultimate guide to bacon, starting with an explanation of all the different kinds of bacon and ending with some fun bacon pairings and recipes you may have never thought of! 

Bacon Comes in Many Different Shapes and Sizes

a young girl in a big hat takes a big bite of bacon
Keystone’s Bacon and Bourbon Festival Always Takes Place in Late June

To us, every kind of bacon is fantastic. We classify bacon into three different categories: peppery, maple, or smoked bacon. 

  • Peppery bacon has always got a little kick and can pair well with foods it balances like chocolate, creamy soup or cheesy potatoes, and even fruit. 
  • Maple bacon is the breakfast lovers’ dream. We like maple bacon with traditional breakfast foods like pancakes, but it can also be great on desserts or citrusy foods to break up the sweetness.
  • Last but not least is smoked bacon. Hickory or Applewood smoked bacon is the creme de la creme of tastiness. The smoky flavor adds something irreplaceable! Other meats and seafood pair well with this type of bacon, but honestly, it can stand alone too!

Alright, here are our top 10 bacon pairings you may have never thought of:

  1. Bacon & Brown Sugar 
  2. Bacon & Biscuits 
  3. Pork Belly & Local Colorado Whiskey 
  4. Big Wave & a BLT
  5. Apples & Bacon 
  6. Bacon & Brownies
  7. Seafood & Bacon
  8. Popcorn & Bacon
  9. Tots & Bacon
  10. Last but not least, Bacon & Bourbon (duh!)
Bacon on a wire rack
Sweet & Salty Brown Sugar Bacon

Pairing #1: Bacon & Brown Sugar 

Sweet and salty is one of the best flavor combinations to date. One of the most simply delicious recipes we have found to date is bacon and brown sugar. Grab your thick-cut applewood smoked bacon and sprinkle it with some dark brown sugar. Put it in the oven for 15-20 minutes and enjoy! Need a little spice in your life? Try this sweet and spicy bacon! Make sure to mark your calendar for Keystone’s Bacon and Bourbon Festival on June 22nd and 23rd to try more bacon dishes!

Bacon Pairing #2: Bacon & Biscuits

Why eat biscuits and bacon next to each other when you can eat them together? Golden Goodness Eats is joining us from Denver this summer, and they are bringing their flakey golden biscuits, complete with bacon in between. Need a bacon-y treat before our Bacon and Bourbon Festival? Check out this local culinary legend’s recipe (just add bacon bits).

pork belly bites on a black plate
Bourbon Glazed Pork Belly Bites

Pairing #3: Pork Belly & Local Colorado Whiskey 

Yes, we know, not technically bacon. Pork belly comes from the underbelly of a pig, it has a high fat-to-muscle ratio leading to the insanely juicy bite of pork! Pork belly is also where you get uncured bacon. One of our excellent food vendors will be slangin’ these morsels both days of our festival. We recommend you try it with the Axe and the Oak Bourbon Whiskey. Make sure you get your hungry hog pass to test this food sample and whiskey combo out!

Pairing #4: Big Wave Golden Ale & a BLT

Making a perfect BLT is a thing of absolute beauty, but pair it with a refreshing golden ale from Kona Brewing CO and you have heaven on a plate. We recommend this balanced beer because the malt-to-hop ratio is guaranteed to cut through the creamy mayo and bacon grease. Give it a try, it’s incredible– we promise!

an IPA tap handle
Bacon & Beer – We’ll Cheers to That!

Pairing #5: Apples & Bacon

Apple pie is so 2023, this bacon caramel apple crisp is what summer dreams are made of. The perfect amount of sweet to savory to tart. It’s proof that bacon really makes any dish better.

Bacon Pairing #6: Bacon & Brownies

Who can pass up a fudgy, chocolatey, moist brownie? Just add bacon bits and you’ll find perfection! 5 Star Caterers has a beer bacon browning coming to Keystone’s Bacon and Bourbon Festival. If you can’t wait until June, try this recipe by King Arthur Baking.

Bacon Pairing #7: Bacon & Seafood

Finding quality seafood in the mountains is no easy feat. You definitely need to try this sweet and savory bacon-wrapped shrimp recipe though. Bonus tip: use the brown sugared bacon from above in this recipe!

Pairing #8: Bacon & Popcorn

Bacon fat is a required element of this recipe (we know it says optional, but it’s required, trust us!) That can only mean it will be tastier than expected. The saltiness of the popcorn with the delicious melty cheese and that luxurious bacon make this Bacon Cheddar Popcorn a must-eat! Make sure to keep your eyes out for The Good Stuff this summer. She will be selling both popcorn and snow cones at each festival!

Pairing #9: Tots & Bacon 

Mountain Melt food truck is bringing the heat to the Bacon and Bourbon Festival. Their crunchy tots are covered in crispy bacon and drizzled with a bourbon glaze. Mouth-watering flavors are taking over the 13th annual Bacon and Bourbon Festival. Get your food pass now to participate.

Bacon Pairing #10: Last but not least, Bacon and Bourbon (duh)

bird dog whiskey is poured into a branded shot glass
The Festival Bourbon Tour is Always Popular with Over 50 Varieties of Bourbon to Try!

Our Hungry Hog package at Colorado’s best Bacon and Bourbon Festival features our Bourbon Tour. So, while we know a lot about bacon, we also know a bit about bourbon.

Bourbon and bacon are a classic pairing because of their complementary flavors– smoky bacon and barrel-finished oak flavors of the bourbon are a natural fit. But, you can always be sure to choose a slice of bacon that doesn’t overpower your bourbon, and therefore, we recommend high-proof bourbons with intense bacon (like applewood smoked flavors). 

Our classy and smoky bourbon cocktail is a Smoked Bacon Old Fashioned. This is a cocktail you have to work for complete with candied bacon, maple syrup, and your favorite bourbon. Don’t have a favorite bourbon yet? Bacon and Bourbon Festivals is truly the event for you!

We are excited to announce the Bourbon Tour this year at our Colorado kickoff summer festival. See the list of bourbon vendors here. 

Thanks for reading our best bacon pairings! We can’t wait to celebrate all things bacon (and bourbon) at the 13th Annual Bacon and Bourbon Festival this summer in Colorado!