The fourth annual Toledo Beer & Bacon Fest returns to the historic Birmingham Neighborhood with all manner of bacon foods, bacon-themed craft beers, and live music by Irish punk band Katie’s Randy Cat. We sat down with two beer and bacon enthusiasts, organizers of the festival since its humble beginnings.
From Birmingham to Bacon
Originally called the Birmingham Craft Beer Fest, in deference to the host venue, The Hungarian Club of Toledo in the Birmingham Neighborhood, the first festival had about 120 attendees.
“We had a lot of commercial beer the first year; we didn’t have as many local breweries in 2015,” Earnest Brew Works co-founder Scot Yarnell explains. Yarnell, who founded the festival with Hungarian Club president Peter Ujvagi, continues, “Peter got ahold of me and wanted to do a beer tasting.” The festival currently offers 10 beer samples with the price of admission.
Yarnell, an original member of the Glass City Mashers, an organization that was formed in 2011 for brewers to “go over different techniques and learn from each other,” said,“It’s really grown into quite a good club.” Their meetings are often held at The Hungarian Club, which led to the two organizations joining forces to start the festival.
The name was changed to Beer & Bacon Fest because bacon is such a big part of Hungarian cuisine, Yarnell explained. Along with treats like bacon Rice Krispies and Birmingham hot dogs, there will also be bacon-themed beers — bacon pale ales and bacon stouts. While at some beer festivals, the food is “kind of a side-show,” at the Beer & Bacon Fest, the bacon-based foods paired with the beers are a big part of the event.
Jon Sicotte, media and beer coordinator for the event and president of Glass City Mashers, recalls one of last year’s biggest hits— the Hound Dog— an Elvis-themed porter by Upside Brewing in Sylvania; it is peanut butter, banana, and maple syrup flavored, pairing well with all the bacon being served at the event.
Get to Know Your Brewer
This year’s festival will be comprised completely of local beers, a reflection on the thriving brewery scene in Toledo and the influence of the Glass City Mashers. Many of the breweries in the area have been involved in the organization, including Black Cloister, Black Frog, and Maumee Bay.
“I think this will be a great opportunity for people who haven’t tried these beers to have them all in one place,” Sicotte said. With 18 local breweries, many relatively new to the scene, “The best thing is we get to show people what craft beer is and what The Hungarian Club is all about,” Sicotte said. “The Northwest Ohio beer scene is up-and-coming. We want to be able to show people what is around here.”
Yarnell agrees that the festival is a great way to showcase Northwest Toledo breweries. “These are all local beers and, for the most part, the brewer will be there,” he said. “If you really like the beer from Flatrock, Lawrence will be there. Maumee Bay will be there. Most of the breweries are really small, and if they aren’t small, like Maumee Bay, it’s a nice day out for the brewer to talk to people about his beer.”
Advance ticket purchase is suggested as they have sold out early in previous years.
$25 in advance on EventBrite. $30 at the door.
4-8pm. Saturday, May 12.
The Hungarian Club of Toledo. 224 Paine Ave.
Must be 21 or older.