1. Place beans in a large pot or bowl and cover with cold water 2 inches higher than the level of the beans. Cover and soak overnight, then drain and rinse. (Alternatively, place the beans in a large stockpot, add 8 cups cold water, and bring to a boil. Allow to boil vigorously for 1 minute, then remove from heat and let the beans soak for 11?2 hours. Drain and rinse the beans, and proceed with step 2.)
2. Place the soaked beans in a large saucepan, add cold water to cover by 3 or 4 inches, and bring to a boil. Boil vigorously for 5 minutes, then lower to a simmer. Cook beans until just tender. Cooking time can vary, depending on the age and freshness of the beans. Start checking after 20 minutes; they may take as long as an hour. Beans will continue to cook in the slow cooker, so they shouldn't be cooked too soft at this stage.
3. Drain the cooked beans, reserving the cooking water. Place beans in a medium or large slow cooker.
4. In a medium saucepan, combine the onion, chipotle, vegetarian bacon (if using), barbecue sauce, ketchup, maple syrup, mustard, soy sauce, and vinegar. Bring to a simmer and cook on low heat for 5 minutes, to allow the flavors to blend.
5. Pour the sauce over the beans and stir briefly and gently (you don't want to break up the beans). If needed, add about 1?2 cup of the reserved cooking water to moisten the beans.
6. Cook the beans on the low setting for 5 to 6 hours, until tender. Check periodically to make sure they're not drying out, stirring gently as you check. If they seem to be getting too dry, add some of the reserved bean liquid. If you'd like them thicker, remove the lid for the last 20 minutes of cookingtime. Serve hot.
Source: Fresh Magazine March, April 2010