Fort Wayne, here are three words for you: beer, bourbon and bacon.
That triple combination is coming soon to the Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory in downtown Fort Wayne. There, folks will have a chance to sample the latest exclusive beers and bourbons paired with unique and creative bacon dishes by local chefs at the Beer, Bourbon and Bacon Festival from 5 to 8 p.m. March 29.
Tickets to the event are $35 per person for ages 21 and older and include an unlimited sampling of more than 60 beers from local, regional and national breweries, including Mad Anthony, Summit City Brewerks, Lexington Brewing Co., Bell’s, Flat 12, Three Floyds, Dogfish Head, Goose Island and many more.
But that’s just the beer. There’s also a limited sampling of Indiana and Kentucky bourbons. Eddie Merlot’s, Main St. Bistro and Martini Lounge, Chop’s, Shigs in Pit and the Trolley Bar also will serve up Ossian-brand bacon-themed snacks available for a small cost.
For designated drivers going the extra mile to ensure friends have a fun, safe night, there’s also an incentive for you. Designated driver tickets are only $10 and will include a sandwich and a drink.
Yes, Fort Wayne has a few different beer festivals, but this is a beast of its own.
JJ Fabini, an organizer for the event, is a huge bourbon fan. After learning about the delicate process of distilling the whiskey, Fabini has a deep respect for the labor of love that goes into the drink.
“Honestly, I’ve always kind of liked bourbon, but I wasn’t really a connoisseur until I went to a tasting hosted by a brand ambassador for Jim Beam at Club Soda,” Fabini said. “They paired bourbon with food, and they worked with the head chef at Club Soda. I really enjoyed it, and I learned a lot about bourbon that night.”
Then he picked up a book about bourbon and learned more about the distillation process and what makes bourbon into bourbon.
“I got into it and started sampling more,” he said. “It’s enjoying a strong renaissance, and it’s a labor of love to make bourbon. The minimum aging process is two years and the average is four, and you can get them up to 23 years old. There’s a lot of craft, knowledge and love from these distillers. I just appreciate the process and the flavor.”
Fabini said there’s no better way to learn more about a new liquor than giving it a taste yourself.
“Bourbon is an acquired taste, and it’s not for everybody,” he said. “While we don’t have as much bourbon as beer at the festival, it’s a great chance for people to try out some new products.”
The tickets went on sale a few weeks ago, and organizers have been pleasantly surprised by the popularity of the event. While there are still tickets left, folks are encouraged to get tickets soon before they sell out. If the event proves to be a success, organizers said they are open to having it annually.
Because, honestly, what’s better than beer, bourbon and bacon to bring you out of our winter hibernation?