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Beer-cured bacon, BBQ and bagels: the food of the Great American Beer Festival

Beer-cured bacon, BBQ and bagels: the food of the Great American Beer Festival

Such a charming shirt. We spotted it beneath a sad pretzel necklace which, if anything, is the culinary equivalent of whiskey dick: You want to get excited, but you just can't.

The Great American Beer Festival isn't exactly a food orgy -- and rightfully so, because that would take away precious room in your stomach that belongs to beer -- but we managed to scrounge up a few options, in varying degrees of deliciousness. Behold, our pictorial summary.

Cafe Aion's BLTs
Cafe Aion's BLTs

The high note of gastronomic pleasures in a hall full of beer was, without a doubt, the Farm-to-Table pavilion, a crowd-controlled semi-private event that employs the students of the Culinary School of the Rockies and chefs from around town to craft food and beer pairings. We ate our weight in Cafe Aion's BLTs made from Oskar Blues Ten Fidy cured bacon and perfect heirloom tomatoes, then moved on to Pizzeria Basta's pork sausage with smoked fingerling potatoes and Panzano's lamb polpette (which is an unnecessarily fancy word for meatball).

Our favorite pairings of the night, though, went to the Culinary School of the Rockies. We delighted in the Three Sisters red quinoa and how well the sweet, earthy notes were highlighted by the rich Rogue chocolate stout. Later, we marveled at the floral honey notes of the Ska Dubbel Blond, a perfect match for tart buttermilk panna cotta.

Beer-cured bacon, BBQ and bagels: the food of the Great American Beer Festival

If you weren't lucky enough to score tickets to Farm-to-Table, your on-site options for eating were limited. The brisket plate, served up with coleslaw and baked beans, looked to be the best in a group of dining choices that included doughnuts and Go Nuts. Maybe the sad state of affairs explains why one of the longest exhibition lines, by far, was the 45-minute queue for the cheese display.

And then there were the pretzel necklaces, an art unto themselves. Loaded with pretzels of varying sizes, the vast majority of these edible pieces of jewelry were classic examples of carb overload. Some imbibers displayed commendable creativity, though, loading strings with other things with holes -- like bagels and Froot Loops -- or figuring out how to adhere more substantial snacking fare, like string cheese, beef jerky and chicken nuggets, thoughtfully wrapped in foil to keep the meat warm.

Which made us think that next year, some enterprising people should work out how to attach pizza and burritos to their neck. And then sell them to the masses when, inevitably, near the end of the session, the drunk munchies take over and render all other foods obsolete.