by guest contributor: Jeffery Scott
Some may identify the state with oil & gas, a sense of pride mixed with “everything’s bigger” ego, and Friday night football; but bbq is the soul of the State.
Everyone has a favorite cut of bbq: some folks love the lean well-marbled middle cuts of brisket, some crispy perfectly smoked links of sausage, others beef or pork ribs. My favorite has and will always be fatty brisket mixed with the ends (the typically overlooked portion that has the magical blend of spice, smoke, and crunch).
My journey this Saturday morning takes me to a small trailer on the east side of Austin. It’s 10:30 a.m. and an odd time for BBQ but after a morning spent cycling and running errands there is nothing better than brisket for breakfast. The establishment in question is John Mueller’s Meat Company and has a past as colorful and checkered as your grandma’s picnic blanket. But that’s a story for another time.
The smokers have been silently bathing meat all night as is the custom and staff begins the day by unloading and stacking logs for future nights, wiping down picnic tables, and preparing the trailer for service; all as scores of people wait calmly in line for the chain link gate to open.
The gates open and folks slowly mosey up to the window where they begin the always-difficult balance of indulgent sampling meat selection. The question of whether to try the special prime rib, have an extra famous beef rib, indulge in brisket, or add turkey and pork along with the options of sides (famous cheese squash & others) is daunting. To assuage those that wait in a morning fasted state of hunger, the proprietor walks the line and hands out cold Lonestar beer.
Now when enjoying bbq the only true pairing is beer. Cocktails, cola, wine, water, and other options are sometimes suitable, but only beer perfectly refreshes and complements. Bourbon is another fine choice, but that’s more apt for sipping after several hours of meat have been enjoyed. What type of beer to pair typically depends on your favorite cut of meat. If you’re fond of moist, subtly smoked turkey then there’s nothing finer than a subtle pilsner; if you fancy pork then something a bit more hoppy can be chosen as the hops can handle the fat content (and sauce if you choose). To balance the fat, spice, & texture of my favorites, I usually choose a farmhouse Belgian style beer. There are numerous variations with the most prominent feature being the yeast and the resulting refreshing yet wild sweet-acidic-refreshing balance. My selection this morning is Saison Dupont. Another more local options for this Saturday are Hops and Grain – a small brewery just a block away from Mueller’s that offers a range of exceptional choices and who also has tastings and tours on these same weekend days.
If you’re not able to make it to the east side of town for early morning beer and bbq, another more proximate option for those in Austin wanting to sample a range of local beers is Craft Pride in the bourgeoning Rainy Street district. This newly opened space offers 54 local taps featuring the best that Texas breweries have to offer. An added bonus is that a Bacon Bus food trailer resides in the back patio and offers a range of tasty meat options to pair with local finery.
Jeff Scott resides in Austin, Texas. You can find Jeff here twitter.com/JRandallScott