Stanley's Craft Beer and Bacon Fest celebrates pork and suds at Art-a-Whirl

The world of cuisine has a few truly sure-fire pairings: Cabernet and filet mignon, caviar and champagne, dishes and beverages with histories so thoroughly intertwined that they've become soul mates. But there is only one true pairing, and it knows no class or caste -- the people's champ, if you will. We're speaking, of course, of beer and bacon. This year during Art-a-Whirl, the fine folks at Stanley's Northeast Bar Room are devoting a whole block party to this princely combination.

See also: Register for unlimited bacon at the Bacon Chase 5K and .05K

Emerging from the neighborhood watering hole's successful first foray into a craft-beer festival last year, Stanley's pork-and-suds bonanza will be the bar's second Art-A-Whirl block party event, but the first one to celebrate bacon so specifically. "We wanted to try and set ourselves apart from the other beerfests in town, and offer something in addition to the beer," says Stanley's marketing and promotions manager Chastity Sorenson.

The event will feature beers from at least 45 local and national breweries, with more being added during the run-up to the big weekend. In addition to all the hometown heroes you'd hope to see, such as Fulton, Summit, 612, Northgate, and Indeed, you'll find a few up-and-comers like Big Wood and Mankato brewing, and established national powerhouses such as New Belgium, Deschutes, Founders, and Lagunitas. Oskar Blues, an innovative indie favorite from Lyons, CO is celebrating their recent expansion into the Twin Cities market by sending an artist to do live painting during the festivities in honor of the Art-a-Whirl backdrop. In addition, the good folks from Northern Brew Supply will be showing off some of their chemistry equipment by brewing on site.

The dynamic combination is being handled exclusively by Stanley's, who will be doing seven different variations on the classic crispy pork delight, along with bacon brats provided by Man Cave foods. Interesting twists include pecan applewood, candied jalapeƱo, and maple chili, with a few no-brainers like bourbon and Caribbean jerk thrown in. Each of these varieties is being mated to a select beer from one of the featured breweries, and the pairings will be spread throughout festival, encouraging patrons to browse and perhaps even create their own unholy selections.

Sorenson says the sheer amount of prep work involved has left everyone at Stanley's a little pig-crazy. "We have bacon on our appetizer menu because of this event," she jokes. "Because of this idea, it's kind of spiraled into the restaurant." In order to keep a whole block party full of hungry beer-drinkers satisfied, the restaurant is planning on cooking somewhere in the vicinity of 1000 pounds, or about 20,000 strips of bacon, which means their kitchen is currently firing on all cylinders to be ready.

"Our chef will be in this week, cooking the bacon any open time we can get with our ovens," Sorenson says, "I'm probably going to be sampling so much that I won't want any more bacon for a whole year." If you get sick of bacon (God forbid), food trucks and other vendors will be on-hand, including Tot Boss and Tollefson Meats,

Stanley's Craft Beer and Bacon Festival will take place from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, May 17, blocking off Lowry Avenue between University and 2nd Street in northeast Minneapolis. Tickets come in a standard and VIP package for $40 or $90, with sober driver tickets available for $10.

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