13 January 2010


As a contributor to a world famous beer blog, I feel that it's my duty to keep my eyes open for all things tasty, and to find a way to relate them back to beer. So perhaps it's no surprise that an article in The Atlantic's food section titled "Nashville Takes on Bacon Bourbon" got my attention.

The technique used to infuse bacon flavor into a bourbon is called "fat-washing". The process involves adding bacon fat to the liquor, then cooling the liquor until the fat rises to the top, allowing it to be removed from the liquid. I immediately wondered if the same process could be done with beer, and then discovered (at the end of the article, actually) that Brooklyn Brewery's Garrett Oliver had already conducted a few experiments of his own. Back in August he told a New York times reporter:
“One of two things will happen,” Mr. Oliver predicted. “Either this will be the most amazingly disgusting thing you’ve ever tasted in your life. Or I shall rule the earth.”
I'm not the sort of person to wait around on Garrett Oliver, especially when I can conduct disgusting experiment on my own. Gina and I were joined by HBG KOTBR's Rod and Jess and Sun King Brewer Clay Robinson at our expansive south-side estate for a project titled "Chubby Scrubbing".

In case you're wondering, that's not the future of bacon (Bacon Two Point Oh), it's two pounds of bacon. We acquired the locally sourced applewood smoked bacon from Indy's Goose the Market. No one in Indy does bacon as well as The Goose - they've even got a Bacon of the Month club. We're all big fans.

We fried up about a pound and a half of the bacon, giving us a pan full of sweet sweet bacon fat.

The bacon fat was poured through a splash screen (we improvised) to filter out the large solid pieces and scraps of bacon.

We poured the bacon into a cake pan for lack of better options.

The pan of bacon fat was given a snow bath in order to cool it down for safer handling.

The cooled (but still liquid) fat was then poured into four pint glasses.

We added three varieties of beer to the fat.

Sun King Wee Mac,

Anchor Steam's Old Foghorn Barleywine,

and Stone 12th Anniversary Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout.

That's every bit as tasty as it looks.

The fat immediately solidified when the beer was added, coating the sides of the glasses, and rising to the top in small pieces that combined to form a sort of head.

As tempting as it was to drink it right then, we put the beer in the fridge for a bit to further cool, and to gather our nerve to actually drink the stuff.

Before we started, I told everyone "you realize this is going to turn into a dare contest, right?" While spooning the fat off the top of the beer I started to realize how right I was.

We poured the beer out of our mixing glasses and into a measuring cup for equal distribution among the eagerly awaiting audience.

The end result was a lot clearer than we expected.

You might expect that the fat-washing would impart strong bacon flavors, but in all cases we found that the only thing accomplished was an oily mouthfeel (and maybe a slight ruining of the beer).

That's not what we we after at all! Damnit! We want bacon!

As it turns out, if you want bacon flavor in your beer, the best way to do it is to put a piece of cooked bacon in the actual beer.

Wait 5 minutes, then enjoy your beer flavored beer. And your beer flavored bacon.


In fact, it's so tasty that we plan on future experiments with the technique. And we plan on sharing the results of the next experiment with the public. Stay tuned..

By the way, this isn't the first time we've put stuff in our beer.


  1. maybe you should try a process akin to what liquid smoke does. as far as i understand, they burn real wood, allow the hot smoke to hit some sort of cold plate, and collect the condensate. that way you get the flavor from the smoke (which is what bacon IS, really) and leave all the greasy fatty junk behind. because fat and beer don't behave well together.

    so go ahead and rig up that bacon-condensate collector in your free time and get back to us!

  2. liquid smoke is indeed all natural and the bomb, but I'd have to part ways with bacon only being about the smoke ;) I think Emeril Live has been off air for long enough for me to say... pork fat rules.

    anyway - good read! Couldn't help but laugh at myself, I'm particular about few things cleaning... but I do try to keep my pint glasses out of grease. Your head retention is probably going to be f'd for a while on those! (?) c'est la vie, it is for science. poetry in motion.

  3. Done it. Here's how:

  4. A friend of mine once described a beer variety she tried as tasting like bacon, so you might see if you can locate that and see how they do it. I believe she said it was labeled as "Rauchbier," which means "smoked beer" in German.

    I managed to find a Wikipedia article, but I didn't dig too deeply into any other research: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smoked_beer

  5. crs - we've been to Bamberg, the motherland of rauchbier, and while it retains a wonderful smoked meat characteristic from the smoked malt, it isn't true "bacon beer.".

    grocery - you are totally on to something there, I'm spreading this info to my homebrew club.

  6. The Bacon Fat Head in the glass is shudderingly cool.

    Three strips of Claus's Double Smoked Bacon crumbled in a 750 of Vodka. Leave until the meat disappears, leaving small fat chunks in the bottom. No filtering. Shake before serving. Chunky Style Bacon Vodka.

  7. CRS - we've done rauchbier before - http://hoosierbeergeek.blogspot.com/1996/01/kotbr-42-smokin.html - and like rod says, it's got a bacon flavor, but it's not nearly as disgusting/entertaining as an experiment.

  8. Dare I say "bacon randall".

    @crs : It's Aecht Schlenkerla