Windy City Smokeout 2018: 15 of The Country's Master Pitmasters on the Best Barbecue and Beer Pairings

Windy City Smokeout 2018: 15 of The Country's Master Pitmasters on the Best Barbecue and Beer Pairings

Forbes |
Karla Alindahao |
Jun 30, 2018
Original Article: "Windy City Smokeout 2018: 15 of The Country's Master Pitmasters on the Best Barbecue and Beer Pairings"

Even a whiskey drinker like me appreciates that nothing goes better with barbecue than a cold beer. And for every variation of barbecue that’s out there—Texas, Kansas City, North Carolina, you name it—there are countless styles of beer from which to choose. To learn which brew to pair with my ’cue, I tapped into the collective wisdom of 15 pitmasters from Chicago’s Windy City Smokeout—arguably the country’s leading barbecue and country music festival, which also happens to be an annual ACM-nominated event, now in its sixth year.

crowd shot of wcs

Hosted by Chicago’s Bub City and the award-winning Joe’s Bar, the three-day extravaganza (happening from July 13 to 15) will be the bringing barbecue masters together for one of the most memorable events of the summer.

“Since we started the festival in 2013, Windy City Smokeout has continued to introduce Chicago to the best BBQ, rising music talent, and top craft breweries from around the country,” Doug Psaltis of Bub City said in a release. “After traveling nationwide to find the best BBQ, we are thrilled to add some new and exciting talent to this year’s roster. We are also proud to continue showcasing the best in country music, with the likes of Brett Eldredge and Brothers Osborne, plus rising stars such as Walker Hayes, who is sure to be the next big thing in country music.”

Here, 15 quality BBQ and beer pairings from the pitmasters who know best. (And yes, they were gracious enough to recommend local and national brews.)

FOX BROS BAR-B-Q (ATLANTA, GA) | BBQ and Beer Pairing: St. Louis-style barbecue with Sweetwater 420 Extra Pale Ale

“Beer and Barbecue…what better reason to make barbecue than to enjoy a great beer with it? Making barbecue takes time, so what fills that time better than enjoying a cold beer? Well, perhaps enjoying a crisp cold beer while eating that barbecue! When I get the chance to sit back and enjoy what I’ve made, and I am looking for a great craft beer to enjoy with it, I usually go with a Cold Sweetwater 420 Extra Pale Ale Draft – it goes great with our Fox Bros Ribs! When I want to chow down on a rack of our St. Louis ribs a Sweetwater 420 works best because it is crisp and light pale ale, with a touch of hop. It finishes smooth and clean, and pairs well with the sweet smokey succulent pork rib. And just like Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q, SweetWater 420 is an Atlanta favorite – we consider it the perfect pairing.” —Jonathan Fox, pitmaster

SALT LICK BBQ (DRIFTWOOD, TX) | BBQ and Beer Pairing: Smoked brisket and burnt ends with Kölsch from Twisted X Brewing (local pairing) and Ballast Point California Kölsch (national pairing)

“This Kölsch from Twisted X Brewing pairs perfectly with the Salt Lick’s smoked brisket burnt ends and boneless, moist turkey breast. The floral aroma that this beer carries helps bring out the smokiness of the Salt Lick barbecue. This precise balance of bitterness and sweetness compliments the white and dark meat. Add to that a bit of our spicy BBQ sauce and enjoy! We finish our BBQ over an open fire with soaked pecan shells to enhance the smoky flavor. When the drippings fall off the meat and hit the embers below, the flames flare into a smoke that drifts up past the meats to give” —Miriam Wilson, pitmaster

LEROY & LEWIS (AUSTIN, TX) | BBQ and Beer Pairing: Texas style beef cheeks with Pearl Snap by Austin Beerworks (local pairing) and Kellerweis by Sierra Nevada (national pairing)

“We like to recommend anything refreshing to balance out the fatty barbecue. Kellerwies by Sierra Nevada or if you’re an Austin local, Pearl Snap by Austin Beerworks both compliment our smoky meat with light, crisp flavors.. The beer is meant to be paired with the beef cheeks which have become one of Evan’s signature dishes. They’re similar to brisket but more unctuous. With LeRoy and Lewis, his goal is to focus on more alternative cuts instead of the traditional brisket, ribs and sausage, which is where the “New School Barbecue” comes in. It’s pushing the boundaries of the cuisine and also putting an emphasis on sustainability.” —Evan Leroy, pitmaster

MARTIN’S BBQ JOINT (NASHVILLE, TN) | BBQ and Beer Pairing: West Tennessee whole-hog barbecue (one of only three pitmasters still serving this style) with Yazoo Dos Perros and Black Abbey Rose

“Both Yazoo Dos Perros and Black Abbey Rose pair extremely well with every meat that comes off our pits. They pair well obviously because of the flavor, but also the reason for me is that I can continue drinking them while I’m eating. The styles of these beers lend themselves well with pork and brisket, and I can enjoy them like I’m having a glass of coke or sweet tea.” —Patrick Martin, pitmaster

17TH STREET BARBECUE (MURPHYSBORO, IL) | BBQ and Beer Pairing: Applewood Smoked barbecue baby back ribs with hickory and Chambourcin and Freestone by Scratch Brewing

“At 17th Street Barbecue, we’re known for our baby back ribs, sprinkled with our trademark Magic Dust dry rub and smoked over apple wood from surrounding orchards. We’re all about local and we like our craft beer that way, too. Scratch Brewing, in nearby Ava, Illinois, brews its beers from ingredients grown on or foraged from their property. The fresh, earthy flavors change each month and perfectly complement our barbecue. These three brews in particular, Chambourcin, with a nod to the grapes grown in local vineyards, Hickory, whose flavor plays off the wood used in barbecue, and Freestone, made from the juiciest, sweetest peaches you ever tasted, are particular favorites when they’re in season.” —Amy Mills, pitmaster

AGAINST THE GRAIN (LOUISVILLE, KY) | BBQ and Beer Pairing: Louisville style brisket (a twist on Texas and Carolina barbecue) with Citra Ass Down IPA (local pairing) and Bell’s Two Hearted Ale (national pairing)

“Being that we are from Louisville we are not bound by any sort of tradition or style of BBQ. I have the freedom to do whatever I want however I want. With that said I do get a lot of inspiration from the Carolinas and Texas, but I always use wood from this area which I suppose gives nuances of Louisville BBQ. Our brisket is prime grade beef, which is synonymous with that of Texas BBQ in regions of central Texas. We use nothing more than salt and pepper as our rub, however, we do not use post oak, which is found in the central Texas region. We use hickory which is found in the Kentuckiana region here. Citra Ass Down IPA is one of our beers that pairs really well with our brisket. The sweet, malt backbone complements the smoke and any time you have something fruity it’s going to go together with the fatty parts and be delicious. Similarly, we would recommend Bells Two Hearted Ale as this American standard IPA shares the same characteristics.” Jordan Delewis, pitmaster

UBON’S (YAZOO CITY, MO) | BBQ and Beer Pairing: Mississippi Style Baby Back Ribs with Southern Pecan Ale by Lazy Magnolia

“Our favorite craft beer is home grown! Mississippi’s own Lazy Magnolia Southern Pecan Ale pairs beautifully with our Mississippi style ribs. Lazy Magnolia Southern Pecan Ale is sweet with a soft maltiness that’s brewed with roasted pecans. Our ribs are seasoned with our spicy dry rub and brown sugar then slow smoked with pecan wood, pecan hulls and a little pecan nut. After six hours of waiting on those slow cooked ribs you’ll be more than ready to sit down with a cold beer and attack that rack! The Hospitality State is always open and ready to make you feel right at home and if you stick around long enough, we’ll have some pecan pie to finish off your meal. You should know…here in Mississippi we pronounce it “Puh-kahn.” We’re saving you a place at our table in Yazoo City!” —Leslie Roark Scott, pitmaster

HOMETEAM BBQ (CHARLESTON, SC) | BBQ and Beer Pairing: Smoked dry rub wings with Alabama white sauce and Gullah Cream Ale by Revelry Brewing Company

“We take a stylistically eclectic approach to our ‘cue by highlighting techniques from different parts of the country and leaving the saucing to the guest with a full array of options. As such, it’s the norm for us to have lots of different flavors and textures on the table at once, driving home the communal aspect that is such a fundamental part of dining at Home Team BBQ. In light of this, we love lower gravity “sessionable” beers that aren’t hop-forward and play well with others; beers that you can really get the hang of and have a few. One of our favorite examples is Revelry Brewing Company’s Gullah Cream Ale with our Smoked Dry Rub Wings served with Alabama White Sauce. It’s a pairing of local favorites, and the tang of the white sauce plays incredibly well with the creamier texture of the beer, as they both lay down an awesome contrast to the smoke and crunch of the wings. Aaron Siegal, pitmaster

SMOQUE BBQ (CHICAGO, IL) | BBQ and Beer Pairing: St. Louis Style Ribs with Scentinal IPA from Old Irving Brewing Co.

“Well, I always say that if you eat what you love and drink what you love, your brain will find a way to make them go together. And frankly, if you’re sticking with beer and barbecue, it’s gonna end pretty well for you. That said, some pairings can elevate both. For me our St. Louis ribs with Scentinal IPA from Old Irving Brewing Co. is as good a match as there is. The ribs have a subtle sweetness, but are mostly a savory tangy style, which balances perfectly with Scentinal’s soft fruitiness and big hoppy flavor.” —Barry Sorkin, pitmaster

BUB CITY (CHICAGO, IL) | BBQ and Beer Pairing: The dish is Bub City’s Carolina-style Berkshire Pork Shoulder. As for style of barbecue, Bub City “borrows the best from the rest,” meaning it takes the best of America’s BBQ and puts its own touch on it. They make brisket like they do in Texas, pulled pork like in the Carolinas, whole hog as done in the Midwest, and so on. Pair with Local Option Mourning Wood

“This Carolina-style Berkshire pork shoulder is very lightly smoked, chopped and seasoned with apple cider vinegar to add a little sweetness. At Bub City, you can order this pork shoulder by itself or in our pulled pork sandwich. Pair it with Local Option Mourning Wood, which uses fresh American oak during the aging process and Dark Matter’s El Salvador San Jose pulp-natural coffee, which impart aromatic yet enough subtle components to the beer, which perfectly plays off the pork shoulder.” —Doug Psaltis, pitmaster

brisket sandwich from bub city

LITTLE MISS BBQ (PHOENIX, AZ) | BBQ and Beer Pairing: Central Texas Style Barbecue with Valley Beer by Wren House Brewing Co. (local pairing) and Coors Banquet (national pairing)

“Ever since we made our first trip to The Salt Lick in Driftwood, TX, Little Miss BBQ is all about Central Texas style barbecue. There is nothing like it in the world. We use the best prime briskets and meats that we can buy and smoke them on our custom Camelback 1000 gallon offset smokers with Arizona oak and pecan. We keep the seasonings simple and let the perfectly tender meat do the talking.We’re firm believers that just like the seasonings on our amazing brisket, the beer you drink with it needs to compliment the food and not take away or overpower the flavors you are trying to create. We have an exceptional local brewery in Phoenix called Wren House Brewing Co.. Preston has been working on an American lager named Valley Beer and it is to the point where it is crisp and light, refreshing but still full of flavor. It’s my go to when hanging outside with family and friends while cooking up some ribs on the smoker. Nationally, the American lager champion is Coors Banquet.” —Scott Holmes, pitmaster

HOMETOWN BAR-B-QUE (BROOKLYN, NY) | BBQ and Beer Pairing: Beef Rib with Folksbier Raspberry Glow Up Berliner Weisse

“The Raspberry Glow up is the best pairing of beer and barbecue I have ever had. The sour, but crisp and acidity of the Berliner Weisse style beer cuts through the peppery but sweet bark and smoky melt in your mouth fattiness of the beef rib.” —Billy Durney, pitmaster

PEG LEG PORKER (NASHVILLE, TN) | BBQ and Beer Pairing: Peg Leg Porker Dry Ribs with Oskar Blues Pinner

“Pinner is a Throwback IPA that pairs great with our dry ribs by enhancing the flavor of our dry seasoning while still being crushable at 4.9% ABV” —Carey Bringle, pitmaster

SAM JONES BBQ (WINTERVILLE, NC) | BBQ and Beer Pairing: Eastern NC whole hog with Carver by Fullsteam Brewing

“Of all the barbecue traditions, Eastern North Carolina whole hog is arguably the most subtle. It’s also the most delicious. Beers that are too hoppy, sour, or smoky would just overwhelm that balance of smoke, fat, meat, and salt. That’s one reason we love Carver, a sweet potato lager brewed by Fullsteam in Durham. It’s a smooth, slightly earthy lager that’s super easy to drink on its own…but the beer’s slight sweetness is a perfect pairing with smoked whole hog. It’s the modern equivalent of sweet tea. We also love that the brewery sources its sweet potatoes from here in Eastern North Carolina, giving the pairing a true sense of place.” —Sam Jones, pitmaster

LILLIE’S Q (CHICAGO, IL) | BBQ and Beer Pairing: “I am originally from South Carolina and we only know BBQ as coming from pigs. So, the shoulder fits my Carolina style very well. Best paired with Founder All Day IPA.”

“Lillie’s Q is a two- time Memphis in May world Champion in Pork Shoulder/Pulled Pork. Founders All Day IPA Goes really well with Lillie’s Q Pork Shoulder. Pale ales are hoppy and can cut through the spices of our Carolina Dirt rub that is used on the Shoulder. They also contain sweet notes which plays well with the Sweet Natural flavor of the special pigs that we cook at LQ.” —Charlie Mckenna, pitmaster

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