Beer. Bacon. You’d be hard-pressed to name two locally sourced comfort consumables as ubiquitous to North Carolina as those derived from pork and brewing.And with N.C.’s brewers moving more and more into the nation’s eye as prime purveyors of a wide variety of beers, it makes sense that its beers are now becoming paired selectively to please the palate. Which is why Brixx Pizza, based out of Charlotte, has a companywide initiative to host beer-pairing events at its restaurants sprinkled around the state.Drew Capps, manager of the Brixx in Raleigh’s Cameron Village, says his restaurant hosts a beer pairing event once a month, with a bacon and beer pairing taking that slot about four times a year. Brixx invited the North State Journal to partake in its “Breakin’ Bacon” beer and bacon pairing event on Thursday. Although they will let you order and eat your food in whatever order you please, we asked the experts at Brixx to recommend the best way to pair their variety of bacon with the beers they had on tap. Here’s how it went down.Introductory pairing: Maple bacon spiced nuts & Lagunitas Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’To ease your palate into the assault of sweet, salty and spicy ahead, Brixx supplied a dish that combines all three: maple bacon spiced nuts. The mix of peanuts, cashews, almonds and macadamia nuts were baked along with pure maple syrup, dry mustard, cayenne, Cajun seasoning and dry thyme, along with chopped bacon. The result is a trifecta of sweet, salty and umami, which juxtaposes well with the crisp and citrusy hoppiness of the only beer that wasn’t locally brewed: Lagunitas’ American pale wheat ale (7.5 percent ABV, California). Round two: Sriracha bacon & Gizmo Brew Works Beekeeper Honey WheatTastes adjusted, you’re served with your first real slab of pork, slathered in Sriracha. The meat is literally prepared by simply being par-baked to almost crispy, rubbed with the Sriracha, then returned to cook until crisp. The result is simple yet effective: the subtle burn of Sriracha and the classic umami of N.C.-sourced bacon. The spice is easily washed down by the light-bodied, fruity and floral Beekeeper Honey Wheat (5.5 percent ABV), crafted right in Raleigh at Gizmo Brew Works. Round three: Maple and spiced pecan bacon & Wicked Weed Pernicious IPAHaving just taken the last swig of the Beekeeper, it led beautifully into the first bite of a spiced pecan. The second full piece of bacon was also cooked until almost crispy and then brushed with pure maple syrup and sprinkled with finely chopped spicy pecans, which were mixed together into a glaze before transferring to the bacon and back into the oven to crisp. Brixx notes that syrup burns quickly, though, so keep an eye out.The Pernicious IPA (7.3 percent ABV), brewed by Asheville’s own Wicked Weed, is an East Coast take on a West Coast-style IPA, with a fruity but pervasively hoppy bite that compels you to take another bite of your own out of the maple and spiced pecan bacon. Time for dessert: Chocolate-coated bacon & Green Man PorterThinking nothing would be as intense as the Sriracha bacon, you’re pleasantly surprised by just how chocolaty the chocolate-coated bacon really is. To prepare, Brixx uses a mixing bowl placed set on top of a pasta water pot to melt and mix tiramisu chocolate shavings. The chocolate is then poured on cooked and cooled bacon, lightly sprinkled with sea salt, and refrigerated to cool and harden.The result, again, is simple but extremely effective. The intense sweet of the chocolate is washed down gently with the smooth and creamy Green Man Porter (6 percent ABV) also brewed in Asheville. The porter has chocolate notes of its own. Combining beer, bacon and chocolate, the comfort food trifecta is complete.
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