It’s Beer, Wings, and BBQ at the 2017 Colonial BBQ Competition!

CBC TagThe Colonial BBQ Competition in Historic New Castle returns this Friday/Saturday for its second year.

The event last year left a sour taste in some attendee’s mouths due to some first-year road bumps that Michael Quaranta and a group of hard working volunteers have been trying very hard to fix for their second go around of the Kansas City Barbecue Society sanctioned competition.

The two-day event kicks off Friday evening  at 5pm with a combination craft beer/chicken wing event on The Green that will see 12-15 BBQ teams via for the People’s Choice Award for best BBQ, and YOU get to be the People. For $5 you’ll get to sample five wings of your choice and don’t be afraid to purchase another five because the event managed to acquire 225 pounds of wings for the event thanks to Mountaire and The Restaurant Depot.

The craft beer event will feature some local favorites such as Twin Lakes, 16 Mile, and Third Wave, as well as Grand Rapids, Michigan favorite Founders Brewing, which just recently started to distribute in Delaware. For those who like something light with their BBQ, Miller will also be on tap.

Saturday’s big event has the gates open at 12 noon, entry fee is $10 and Michael and his team have worked hard to ensure that there is adequate food available for all the BBQ lovers who attends.

“Saturday we’ve got 4 food vendors, including two locals (Locale Post, Philippine Smoke), and two retired competitors selling BBQ. In addition, the Restaurant Depot and Mountaire contacted 125 pounds of chicken leg quarters, so the good kids at Howard High and the culinary program, will cook and sell these as a way to make the school program a few bucks. We had 3 bbq vendors last year, and this year we have 5…and the two that [are coming back from] last year are bringing much more food”, Michael told me in a Facebook conversation.

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Pork and chicken await the crowd at last year’s Colonial BBQ Competition.

Saturday’s beer lineup will be similar to last year with $5 still getting you a 16oz pour, with the highlight being local Smyrna brewer Blue Earl on hand offering their Blues Power, Honey Suckle, and Walking Blues brews. Bud, Bud Light, Goose Island IPA, and Blue Point Toasted Lager will also be available and Michael want me to inform everyone that last call is at 4:30!

Michael and his team seem to have really put time and effort into evolving their event past the obstacles and problems of last year. With any new event like this, there are bound to be growing pains, and Michael even conceded that there will probably be new ones this year, but asked people to be patient, “It will be fun. We’ll have screw ups again this year, and it won’t be until year three or four when we have worked out most of the kinks….but we’ll get there!”

Live music for the event will be provided Backlash, Federal Street and Blue Cat Blues Band.

The Colonial BBQ Competition supports the New Castle Charities, a nonprofit organization that assists area homeowners and improvements to Battery Park.

As always I would like to thank Michael for taking some of his valuable time to talk to me!

The Local Tap – Hogs and Hops 2012

It was always my belief that when it came to events I enjoyed, nothing could beat a beer festival.  There’s just something fun about walking around, tasting beers, and talking to brewers and other beer lovers.  But Dover Police Officer Mark Hoffman and the people at Fordham Brewing have changed that.  Because as it turns out, there is a way to improve my enjoyment of a beer festival, or at least, a beer event – pair it with a competition BBQ – and call it Hogs and Hops.

Hogs and Hops continues the wonderful tradition that Fordham/Old Dominion Breweries have of giving back to the community.  It started with R2HOP2 in May, a music festival in conjunction with American Craft Beer Week.  The combination Beer Fest/Music Festival was a hit, and a portion of the proceeds went to local charities.

Mark then approached Fordham Brewing about having another event to benefit the local community service organizations.  The result was Hogs and Hops, a combination beer festival and competition BBQ whose proceeds would benefit the Emergency Relief Funds of the Dover Police and Dover Fire Departments.  With over 20 BBQs competing, and Fordham brewing pouring the beer, there was no doubt in my mind that I was going to this event.

As an added bonus, the Delaware Craft Beer and Wine Lovers were on hand for a group first – setting up a vendor’s tent at an event.

By the time we got there, the BBQ judges were already hard at work.
Squealing’ Big Time BBQ was one of the 26 teams to show up that day.
Some of the BBQ teams had some pretty impressive rigs.  Some were smoking in converted 55 gallon drums.
DCBaWL member Mike surveying the field.
The beer line.  Fordham/Old Dominion have stated that they went through 44 half kegs that day.
VIP ticket holders got a chance to vote for a People’s Choice award in pulled pork and ribs.  This was an awesome bonus as some events don’t allow people to eat the competition food.
A few DCBaWL members taking a break at the tent while planning which beer truck to hit next.
The rain looked like it might hold things back a bit, but after awhile the area in front of the band stand was full of dancers and mud sliders.
Even the kids were getting into the act.
Event Chairman Mark Hoffman (L), and Chad Messina (R) of Alpha-Q-Up BBQ, winners of the first Hogs and Hops Grand BBQ Championship

When I asked Chad if this was his first competition win, he shocked me by informing me that this was the first competition he’d ever entered. Way to start out!  Unfortunately, he wasn’t in my judging bracket for People’s Choice so I didn’t have a chance to taste his food.  However, Bang Bang BBQ was in my bracket and I really enjoyed their BBQ.  So much so in fact, that I voted for them in the pulled pork and over-all categories.  In the judged competition, they came in first in ribs, and second overall.

Being in the BBQ area was a blast.  So many times on TV BBQers are portrayed as a secretive, unfriendly bunch, but to be honest you couldn’t have asked for a nicer group of people.  The folks at Troops USA were more than willing to spend 20 minutes with me outlining their brisket technique.  Others discussed wood varieties and how/when they would use them.  People were just throwing BBQ knowledge at me.  Maybe it was because I was smart enough not to ask about their rubs.  Although a few, having seen the Bad Byron’s “Butt Rub” shirt I was wearing, did call  me over and say in a low voice, “we use that.”  We even got a few invites to come back after the event for some food and beers.

There’s nothing like a BBQ competition to really demonstrate the diversity of this style of cooking.  It was great to get to taste how different teams approached their flavor profiles.  From spicy to sweet, light smoke or heavy, each team did their best to put their own stamp on their finished product.  Including one team who I swore mixed a little “Old Bay” into their dry rub (for the record, it didn’t really click with me).

Overall the event was a success with over 1000 ticket pre-sales and approximately 1000 walk ups [according to The Dover Post].  Mark is already thinking about next year’s event, and already has plans for improvements.  In fact, he already had an eye towards next year when we bumped into each other in the crowd that day, “I’m thinking one more beer truck for next year.”  Mark is also checking into the possibility of  getting the BBQ competition sanctioned next year with the Kansas City Barbeque Society.

Man, I can’t wait for next year!  Time for another beer…with some ribs!

Delaware Craft Beer and Wine Lovers (#DCBaWL) West Coast vs East Coast BBQ

The Delaware Craft Beer and Wine Lovers group met for our first BBQ picnic get together.  The theme was “West Coast vs East Coast” and we had an excellent turn out of beer and indeed, beer lovers.   Patrick, Kristen, Dana, Ann, Brian, Rob, the other Rob, Randy, Ida, and of course Tracey and I; met at Patrick and Kristen’s house ready to sample what the two coasts had to offer.

Dana’s growler of Victory Ranch. We were staring at this like NASCAR drivers at a green flag. Its opening marked the beginning of the event. Thanks Dana!

Outside of the WvsE theme, no restrictions were given to the type of beer we could bring, so the day turned into a “20 man over the top battle royal” type event, each beer fighting to be the last one standing amongst the collection of libations brought.

I arrived with a pseudo cooler of surprises, 8 beers, 4 each from the respective coasts.  The event turned into a great day of food, fun and spirited talk about beer and the craft industry in general.  We also touched on past beer events we had attended, both inside and outside the DCBaWL as well as what lay ahead on the beer/wine calendar.

A list of (what I can remember) beers that participated were:

EAST COAST:  Victory Brewing’s Ranch IPA, Allagash’s Hugh Malone, Sixpoint’s Sweet Action, Smuttynose’s Really Old Brown Dog, DFH’s Festina Peche and Palo Santo, DuClaw’s Mysterium, Southern Tier’s Unearthly, RJ Rocker’s Fish Paralyzer and Son of a Peach, Lagunitas’ Hop Stoopid, Shmaltz Coney Island Sword Swallower

WEST COAST:  Oskar Blues’ G’Night, Moylan’s Hopsickle, Rogue’s Voodoo Doughnut, Stone’s Oaked Arrogant Bastard, Napa Smith’s Organic IPA, Anchor’s Liberty Ale, 21st Amendment’s Old Chub (?)

(L-R) Rob, Patrick and Tracey enjoying the day, and the beer.

And a slew of others I’ve forgotten and didn’t check-in to my Untappd account (you need to keep up with that, Ed!), so if anyone can remember any more we had, leave them in the comment section and I’ll add them to the list!

Brian throw in what we thought was a ringer with Goose Island’s 312 Wheat until it was pointed out that it is now brewed by Baldwinsville, N.Y after being bought by Anheuser-Busch. Sneaky.

Brian contemplating his next beer.

So who won?  Well, in truth, the people who showed up were the real winners.  We had great food and great beer which made for a wonderful afternoon/evening.  Beyond that I will say that Rogue’s Voodoo Doughnut seemed to garner the most interest, delivering both the maple and bacon as advertised.  There also seemed to be a general agreement that Sixpoint’s Sweet Action was lacking.  Nod to the West?

I’d like to thank all the members and friends who showed up to participate and for all the great beers everyone brought.  I’d also like to thank everyone for the food, which was simply delicious all the way around.  And big shout out to Kristen and Patrick Huff for hosting the event.  Sadly, it was agreed that this would probably be our only “picnic” type get together this summer as our schedule is getting pretty full with other events (not that that’s a bad thing!) and members have pretty tight summer calendars.

If you couldn’t make this event, check out our Facebook page here for an up coming event and sign up!  If you’re reading this and you’re not a member of the DCBaWL and you love good beer and wine, than click on the link and join.  It’s a great group of like mind people.

Thanks again to everyone for making this event rock!

Looks like we’re having a good time.
Cheers, everyone! Until next time.

Brisket, Beer and Badges

Several years ago, my girlfriend cemented her position in my life by giving me a Brinkmann vertical smoker.  I’m not sure how she knew I wanted one.  Maybe it was all the times I sat transfixed in front of the TV with the Food Network on watching guys pull huge hunks of meat from smoking metal contraptions whispering, “man I’d love to try that.”  Or maybe it was her deep, in-tune womanly psyche which in touch with the basic needs of her man.  Nah, it was probably the whispering.

The goal (and the result) - brisket sandwich with onion and horseradish; with a tomato, corn and basil salad.

Well of course I dove right in.  I read everything I could on the internet.  Subscribed to a couple of Enewsletters.  Even bought a couple of books.  Soon I was smoking chickens, sausage and pork shoulders (more on that in a later post) but the mountain I kept hearing I had to climb was brisket.  Brisket is a piece of meat from the belly region, and it can not be cooked anyway but low and slow in order to break down all the fat and connective tissue.  If you try to cook this like a steak, well you might as well dine on your dog’s favorite rubber chew toy.  So I dove in one day and tried it, I think I did fairly well but obviously I still have things to learn.

First it all starts with the rub – the dry rub.  Even if you’re a casual Food TV watcher you’re probably aware the roll that this spice blend has in BBQ.  Spice shelves at supermarkets are full of them, but part of the fun of BBQ is coming up with  your own blends of rubs and sauces.  Mine started as basic creole type blend that I got from a famous Food Network chef.  You can find it here.  Over the years though I’ve changed things either to suit my taste or simply because I found something neat I wanted to add to it.  My recipe this year is below.  I make a big batch every spring and if it lasts the season, I’m lucky. I started with a 4-5lb brisket, liberally applied the rub, wrapped it in plastic wrap and let it sit in the refrigerator for 24 hours. My rub recipe:

  • 1 part Smoked Paprika
  • 1 1/2 parts Spanish Paprika
  • 2  parts Kosher Salt
  • 1 part Roasted Garlic Powder
  • 1 part Garlic Powder
  • 1 part Black Pepper
  • 1 part Onion Powder
  • 1 part Dry Chipolte Powder
  • 1 part Dry Oregano
  • 1 part Dry Thyme

Because you have to cook it low and slow, brisket is not something you can just pop in the smoker at noon and eat at 6.  So I planned to cook it by starting it early in the morning and keeping it warm in the oven until my guests arrived.  Since I like to multi-task when I’m smoking I figured I’d take this opportunity to rack up some Untappd badges that I normally wouldn’t get.  I normally (read rarely) drink the same beer twice in a row, and I count on one hand the number of times I buy a case of something in a year – and most of them are Guinness at St Patty’s day.  So I bought a case of cheap beer (cheap beer is essential when you’re BBQing, it can be used in brines, marinades, sauces) and set the alarm clock to 2am!

I had already set up my smoker so that it was ready to go when the alarm went off.  The water tray was filled, and my charcoal starter was set up with a combination of briquets and lump charcoal.  All I had to do when I walked out on the deck was light a match.  When the coals were ready I poured them into firebox and waited for the  internal temp of the smoker to hit 225.  When it was ready I unwrapped the brisket and placed it in the smoker box and added some water soaked hickory chunks to my fire. Then I cracked a beer.  Yeah, at 2am – I’m a professional, don’t try this at home.

Let me just take a moment to editorialize here – sunrise, with the smoker going is heaven.  Ok, back to it…

At 7:30 the temperature of the brisket was 135.  At 140 meat doesn’t take a lot of smoke any more so I let it creep up to 145, removed it from the smoker, wrapped in aluminum foil and placed it in the oven which was set at 225 – and took a power nap.

The brisket - sliced and ready to serve.

When the digital thermometer read 195, I turned the oven off and left the brisket in it until it was time to serve.  When I sliced the meat it was moist and tender, but  not as moist as I’ve had at some smoke houses.  The flavor was amazing and a friend of mine who does BBQ parties on the side really liked it.  Unfortunately, he doesn’t have any experience with brisket so he couldn’t help with why it was a little drier that I’ve had from other places.

So BBQ fanatics, what am I missing in my brisket prep?  Do I need to mop on occasion?  Put some liquid in when I wrap it in the foil?  What’s you’re trick for making that amazingly moist brisket?

Oh the beers?  I won’t say how many I had throughout the day but here’s a list of Untappd badges I got :

Take it Easy, The Usual, Power Month, Six Pack, Drinking your Paycheck and Brewery Loyalist.  I wanted the Top of the Morning (5 beers before noon), but I didn’t get it.  But I did the next weekend.  Time for another beer – something different.