Arts & Entertainment

Bacon and beer

A festival with a fail-proof pairing comes to Philly

Look out, cheesesteaks and pretzels. Bacon cookies could be a new Philadelphia food staple.

The Philadelphia Bacon and Beer Festival will be held Sunday at Hotel Monaco on 433 Chestnut St. Similar festivals have taken place across the country, organized by Aaron Cohen of Eat Boston. Tickets for the Philadelphia festival sold out in 30 seconds.

“[Cohen] said to me that the response Philly had was more of what he had wanted – Philly is the ideal model for a Bacon and Beer Festival,” said Danya Henninger, a local food writer and co-organizer of the event.

Henninger and Cohen met through Twitter and decided last summer to bring the 4-year-old festival to Philadelphia.

“The reason that I agreed was because it’s for charity,” Henninger said. “Fifty percent of the profit made will be going straight to [the Metropolitan Area Neighborhood Nutrition Alliance].”

MANNA is a nonprofit organization that “cooks and delivers nutritious, medically-appropriate meals and provides nutrition counseling to neighbors who are battling life-threatening illnesses such as cancer, renal disease and HIV/AIDS,” according to its website.

The organization is Philadelphia-based and provides food to the Greater Philadelphia area, as well as to parts of New Jersey.

Many local craft beers will be available at the festival. The popularity of the beverage was a major pull for establishing the festival, Henninger said.

“Philly is the No. 1 beer city,” she added. “There are local craft beers, Belgian beers, European beers, and because of Tom Peters’ connections, [Philly] has a lot of beers that the West Coast and other East Coast places don’t get.”

Peters is the owner of Monk’s Cafe, a Belgian bar on 16th Street.

“[Peters] is famous in the beer world,” Henninger said. “He’s like a celebrity in Belgium because he brings awareness of Belgium beers to here. I used to review beers every week and it would be published nationwide. People in Boston and [Washington] would write in asking where to find the beers, but they would only be available in Philly.”

Henninger said she hated beer before moving to Philadelphia to write about its food and bar scene.

“I really only knew of Budweiser and maybe Sierra Nevada, then I saw Golden Monkey [from Victory Brewing Company] in a corner store and I really liked it,” Henninger said.

“I like all kinds [of beers] now – sweet Belgians, pale ales, sours – which are a cool new thing,” she added.

Beer is just one aspect of the festival, however.

Lansdowne, Pa.’s 1732 Meats will provide bacon to local participating restaurants to make creative dishes incorporating bacon.

“I’m not going to give away the whole menu, but there will be dishes that range from bacon cookies to dishes with multiple types of pork in them,” Henninger said.

Ariyeh Miller is the owner of the bacon distributor, and Henninger has been working with him to create a cooking video related to the festival.

“His little girls love bacon,” Henninger said. “I asked them, ‘How many times a day should you have bacon?’ and they said, ‘Four times a day.’”

Attendees will be able to have as much bacon as they desire at the event, whether it is four times or more.

Cohen and Henninger have plans to expand next year’s festival.

“We did start to consider adding a second session, but it wouldn’t work, we wouldn’t be able to provide the same quality or same experience as the first session,” Henninger said. “We thought even about giving out feather boas or something [at the second session], but there wasn’t enough time to plan it.”

Sinead Cummings can be reached at

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