Blue Ribbon Bacon Tour in Keystone includes series of educational seminars | SummitDaily.com

Blue Ribbon Bacon Tour in Keystone includes series of educational seminars

Krista Driscoll
kdriscoll@summitdaily.com

Do your synapses sizzle at the mention of sweet and salty, deliciously tender-crisp, mouth-watering strips of bacon? If so, then the Keystone Blue Ribbon Bacon Tour can help quench your thirst for knowledge with a series of free seminars during the festival on Saturday, June 27, and Sunday, June 28, in River Run Village.

The Bacon Education Center will provide instruction in bacon fellowship, preparation and processing, plus bacon and whiskey infusion and whiskey mixology.

It all cranks into action on Saturday, June 27, with a seminar titled "Bird Dog and Bacon," presented by Chad Karns, whiskey expert and regional manager for Western Spirits Beverage Co.; and Nick Jones, swinelier and president of Berkwood Farms. The course combines bacon and whiskey mixology in creative ways, from bacon-infused breakfast shots to beverage garnishes.

"So many people think that fruit is a nice garnish with beverages; not as many people have tried bacon as they should," said Marshall Porter, chief bacon officer for the Blue Ribbon Bacon Tour. "It heightens the level of the right drink. It's delicious with bourbon, candied a bit, so it kind of holds up and doesn't get soggy."

Earn a bacon diploma

The Blue Ribbon Bacon University seminar will be offered both Saturday and Sunday, giving bacon lovers a chance to "earn a bacon diploma" with a crash course in all things bacon, from pork production to final preparation.

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"They're going to be able to explore bacon fellowship and learn more about how they can find their favorite," said Porter, who will lead the course. "It will take them on a journey, finding the bacon that seems to call out to them the most. The world of bacon is much more vast than most people even know. It's kind of like a fine wine or a great beer — if you find a great bacon, it can be life changing."

Following Saturday's edition of Bacon U, students have a half-hour break to stroll the festival, tasting sweet and savory concoctions from Keystone chefs, returning later in the afternoon for "Lucky Log," presented by Manny Ortivez, manager of meat and seafood for Lucky's Market, a small chain of natural and organic food stores based in Niwot.

"We'll have two new bacons, which we want everyone to taste at the seminar to get their feedback on," Ortivez said. "We'll speak about the Lucky Log, and we'll have a contest between two people in the audience who want to try to roll their own Lucky Log. Whoever can roll the fastest Lucky Log, I'll give them a gift card to one of our stores."

So just what is a Lucky Log? Well, it starts with a pound of Lucky's nitrate-free, house-made bacon woven into a lattice, topped with a mixture of one pound each homemade pork chorizo and pork breakfast sausage, another half pound to a pound of fried bacon and a layer of cheese, crowned with a thin line of chili.

"I wrap it all up into one and put it into the oven, and it'll come out as a Lucky Log," Ortivez said. "It has more of a breakfast theme to it."

Food for thought

On Sunday, the school day begins with "Solera Bourbon Blending and Aging," presented by Solera Bourbon Whiskey. The seminar will focus on blending different mash bills and ages of bourbons to create full-bodied liquor. Attendees can taste through the layers of liquids to see how each differs and what they add to the final product. The final day of Keystone's Blue Ribbon Bacon Tour closes with another round of Bacon U.

Porter said the series of seminars is a good addition to Keystone's Blue Ribbon Bacon Tour to celebrate America's most favorite of meats and also to pay respect to how that meat arrived in the hands of hungry bacon aficionados, from the sacrifice of the animal to the attention to detail in processing.

"While people are enjoying it, we want them to honor it in a way of not wasting it, not taking it for granted and kind of enjoy it responsibly," he said.

Blue Ribbon Bacon Tour seminars

Saturday, June 27

2-2:30 p.m. — “Bird Dog and Bacon,” presented by Chad Karns, whiskey expert and regional manager of Western Spirits Beverage Co.; and Nick Jones, swinelier and president of Berkwood Farms

3-3:30 p.m. — “Earn a Bacon Diploma,” presented by Marshall Porter, certified bacon instructor and chief bacon officer with Blue Ribbon Bacon Tour

4-4:30 p.m. — “Lucky’s Log,” presented by Lucky’s Market

Sunday, June 28

2-2:30 p.m. — “Solera Bourbon Blending and Aging,” presented by Solera Bourbon Whiskey

3-3:30 p.m. — “Earn a Bacon Diploma,” presented by Marshall Porter, certified bacon instructor and chief bacon officer with Blue Ribbon Bacon Tour

All sessions are free. Enroll at the Quaking Aspen Amphitheatre prior to each session. For more information on the event and seminars, visit http://www.keystonefestivals.com and click on “Blue Ribbon Bacon Tour.”