Chances are, for the most part, that you try to watch what you eat and drink, allowing yourself an indulgence here and there as a personal reward. With that in mind, the best way to describe New Glarus’ Beer, Bacon & Cheese Fest (BB&C) is a four-hour buffet-style banquet with no rules held in your honor. A festival of pure self-gratification for your taste buds and belly. Three month’s worth of rewards crammed into a single, blissful afternoon with any diet, self-consciousness or regard for calories given the day off.
For many, including myself, a festival with three of the world’s most treasured pleasures in its name is a no-brainer. The fact that it’s held in the town of New Glarus, Wisconsin, where the folks are friendly and there’s never a shortage of beer, bacon OR cheese, only adds to the allure. The town is also home to New Glarus Brewing, one of the world’s best breweries, and its ties to this local business are evident, and even celebrated, everywhere you go. The brewery had a significant presence at the BB&C with not only a trailer tap featuring many of their popular flagship beers but a separate booth where they poured some of their more sought-after brews, including Belgian Red, Serendipity and Berliner Weiss. Needless to say, I spent a fair amount of time in this line.
While other local breweries were on hand, including 3 Sheeps, Ale Asylum, Grumpy Troll, Sprecher’s and Mob Craft, there was no doubt that the festival’s beer throne was proudly filled by its local brewery.
As cool, refreshing and delicious as the beer was, the BB&C’s superstars of the day were the food samples. Local merchants, bars and restaurants dished out mouth-watering treats that had attendees coming back for more and more. From Culver’s maple custard filled with chocolate-covered bacon crumbles, Kristi’s cheese and chorizo-stuffed jalapenos and Sugar River Pizza’s bacon-topped slices to Tofflers’ bacon mac n’ cheese, Maple Leaf’s bacon and Belgian Red fudge, and Ruef’s bacon and blue cheese brats, there were delicacies to be savored every few steps. Not to mention the handful of tables sampling countless varieties of cheese. No doubt these stores saw a rush in sales the following day (I should know since I took part in the frenzy myself).
This being my second BB&C, I found that the beer and food selections were vastly improved over last year’s festival. A wider spectrum of beer vendors and local restaurants were in attendance, and more bacon-centric fare was available, which is always a good thing. Perfect weather, gracious hosts and live polka rounded out a fantastic day in downtown New Glarus. With my new June tradition firmly in place, I’ve already booked a hotel for next year’s fest on June 13 in anticipation of another afternoon of indulgence. Join me!