Bacon Kona Stout

Shebeen Bacon Kona Stout
Large glass for sampling, $5, 4.5% ABV

Purchased at the Brewery, Wolcott

stoutThe mere thought of bacon in beer – or anything I’d ever want to drink actually – is just awful to me. But then again, when a breakfast stout is done well, it can be so delicious that such gimmicky flavor elements fall by the wayside.

I never really considered a third option, which would be the one that Shebeen pulled off (at least the batch I tasted from in the summer of 2013) – and that is to have no bacon flavor creep into my glass of beer at all. Which, now that I think about it, is pretty great.

Maybe this beer is like a homeopathic beer. Like, the concentration of bacon molecules is so tiny as to literally not exist. (The reference to homeopathy is important here, as all they are doing is selling you sugar water and they TELL you they are selling you sugar water, but people STILL insist on buying the sugar water. Honestly, homeopathy is the most incredible example of marketing success in my lifetime.)

I have another theory about Shebeen. While they offer up very intriguing sounding beers like this one or the Cucumber Wasabi Ale, they seem to start out with low concentrations of the “unique” flavor elements and perhaps ramp it up with each successive batch until they hit the sweet spot. This would be pretty smart, I think. Like gauge your customer’s tolerance for pineapple or bacon or wasabi in his or her beer and cap the levels at that point.

The beauty of small batch craft brewing is that you can sort of do this type of experimentation without repercussion. (I’ve no evidence at all that any brewery does this, but why wouldn’t they?)

Shebeen Says:

Breakfast beer made with oatmeal, Kona coffee, and crisp bacon. Its dark but light in body with hints of smokiness. It goes great with pizza which really brings out the bacon flavor.

Bacon. Bacon, bacon, bacon.

bacon-art-mugI went to a brewpub in Waltham, MA a few years ago called Watch City Brewing. They always have a “wacky” beer on tap (today I note that is is an Earl Grey IPA). Anyway, when I was there they had some sort of bacon beer on tap. It was one of the first in the nation and holy crap, they just dumped a ton of bacon into the mash.

The beer tasted like I was drinking liquified bacon. It was perhaps one of the most awful things I’d ever put in my mouth. I didn’t even finish the tiny sample I was given. Who drinks crap like that?

Fortunately, Shebeen’s brewers aren’t totally insane and as I’ve said, I didn’t even taste any bacon or smokiness in their beer. Which left me with a breakfast stout that was, as admitted to in the brewery description, a bit thin.

Let’s back up to that description for a second – “beer made with oatmeal, Kona coffee, and crisp bacon.”

“Crisp bacon?” It’s beer. Which is liquid borne from a liquid based mash. “Crispiness” has zero relevance. (To me anyway.)

Anyway, we had samples of this beer at the brewery one summer’s day and I was very pleasantly surprised by the taste. I would assume each batch of a tricky beer like this is slightly different, but I rather liked my batch. There was a tiny touch of smoke here, but way in the background – again, this is a positive thing.

The thinness of it, though, was a little weak. Breakfast stouts should be robust and weighty. This effort, however, was not.

And to all the other Connecticut breweries: Let’s let Shebeen be the torch-bearer for bacon beer. Rich and the crew there will perfect it (just saw a January 2014 tweet stating that they’ve “improved” it) and everyone else just leave the meat out of your bear. Thanks.

Overall Rating: B-
Rating vs. Similar style: n/a

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