Five Barbecue Lessons Learned this Summer: Putting the “becue” Back in Beerbecue

I realized recently that beerbecue is in danger of having its name revoked for for want of barbecue posts. I aim to remedy this.

The Haybag, a vegetarian, bless her heart, got me a new 18.5″ Weber Smokey Mountain for our anniversary. I shall call him Darth Smoker.


Now, I smoked me plenty of meats this Summer. We even had the First Annual Beerbecue Invitational. And if this blog is good for anything (and the jury is still out on that) it’s that readers can learn from my stupidity. Thus, the Five Barbecue Lessons Learned:

Lesson #1: The Weber Smokey Mountain is the pig’s knuckles.
The Weber Smokey Mountain (WSM as the kids like to call it) has serious cult following and vast amounts of Intertube space dedicated to its glory, including the inimitable Virtual Weber Bullet. If you’re thinking about a charcoal smoker, get a WSM. They hold a low temp well, they’ll smoke for 15+ hours without a charcoal change, and they crank out awesome BBQ.

Sure, you could get a similarly-sized XL Big Green Egg, but most small countries couldn’t even afford one of those. Comparatively, with the money you save on a WSM you could: (1) Buy an 8 ball of cocaine and blow up two cows with an RPG at a Cambodian firing range (airfare not included); (2) buy round-trip airfare to Cambodia and blow up one cow with an RPG; or (3) pay for three weeks of a toddler’s daycare in Northern Virginia.

Looks like you live to moo another day, cow.

Looks like you live to moo another day, cow.

Lesson #2: Size may not matter, but people dig the fatty.
My BBQ is good. Sure, I’ve flubbed my ribs a time or two. I’m human. But let me tell you something: You can deftly smoke a Boston Butt for 10 hours and some spare ribs for six like a BBQ zen master, but invariably you’ll get just as many compliments (sometimes more) on a fatty that you threw on as an afterthought for two hours. Fatties get a lot of flak from the BBQ fascists on the forums, but they’re crowd-pleasers. So flatten out some sausage, wrap just about anything with it, then wrap it in bacon. People love that shit.

Lesson #3: To foil or not to foil.
At what point, if at all, should you foil your butt (giggles)? This is the subject of much debate. Butts have a lot of fat. If you’ve kept the temp reasonable, it’s not gonna dry out. I only foil in one of two instances: (1) I don’t want the bark to get any darker (bark is the yummy crust that forms on the outside of your BBQ that is a mix of heated dry rub and fat emitted from the meat and some other sciencey BS that happens to the outer layers of meat when cavemen cook). (2) Sometimes toward the end of or after the plateau if I’m freaking out about finishing before the hungry throngs revolt. However this may or may not speed things up, especially because to do it you have to open the smoker and let heat escape. But at least it looks like you’re doing something to finish it faster (Hushed whispers, “Just think how long we’d be waiting if he didn’t wrap it in foil. He’s a genius”.)

I’m not going to touch the foiling ribs debate. It’s too heated. I only do it to save the bark, or if I have to finish them in the oven. Some people swear by it. Some people swear about it. Just remember when developing your own foil policy, the point is not for the ribs to fall of the bone, just come clean from the bone.

Lesson #4: Smoke2D2 makes a great salmon smoker.
With the arrival of Darth Smoker, Smoke2D2 had to prove himself or get kicked to the curb. He has performed admirably as a salmon smoker, holding 160-170 degrees like a champ. More on that, along with a smoked salmon recipe later.

Lesson #5: Still haven’t found a better beer with pulled pork than Rodenbach Grand Cru.

The Haybag: Lesson #6 appears to be yet unanswered…How many times will I have to save your sorry ass before you realize that I should always make BBQ sauce?

ribsIMG_3336IMG_3322 IMG_3549IMG_3337


17 thoughts on “Five Barbecue Lessons Learned this Summer: Putting the “becue” Back in Beerbecue

  1. nice post! my biggest lesson was probably: Start everything earlier than you think because it will invariably take longer than planned!

    By the way your site name reminds me of the Simpsons: Come to Homer’s BBBQ, the extra B is for BYOBB – that extra B is a typo.

    • No kidding. Definitely have to allow for a cushion. Between every step that’s gotta get done to get the meat in the smoker and the meat deciding when it’s good and damn ready to be done, it’s rare to hit the time you planned for.

      I missed that Simpson’s. That sounds funny. I’ll have to check that out.

  2. Thanks for the tips. We just got a smoker this summer and are still trying to figure it out. And I agree, Rodenbach Grand Cru is the perfect choice!

    • Good to see someone else is on the Rodenbach Grand Q train. It’s such a funny pairing historically speaking, and I doubt we’ll ever see it in any BBQ joints, but it works so well. Did you get a WSM or something else?

      • I am definitely obsessed with that beer. We just got an egg as a housewarming gift and are learning how to use it to its full potential.

  3. I bought my first grill about a month ago and am I complete rookie (yeah, yeah everyone go ahead and laugh). Sounds likes I gotta figure out how to make pulled pork and find some Rodenbach Grand Cru.

  4. How much meat will that bad boy hold? I think I’ve gotten to the point where I can’t resurrect my vertical smoker one more time and I’m going to miss not being able to do three butts, or two butts with some “chef” ribs. Ribs? No you didn’t see any ribs!

    I’ve been cheating this summer using a combination of my gas grill and my oven (I know, I know I’ll mail my BBQers of America card to you for the official ripping to shreds), and really want to get back to the real thing next season.

    And I’ve wanted to try the Grand Cru with BBQ since you first mentioned it and still haven’t done it. God, I’m slacking.

    • It’s got two levels. You could pretty easily do 4 butts total, maybe 6. As for ribs, you could probably fit 4 slabs on each level with one of those rib rack thingies. Get on the Grand Q!

  5. this post actually scared me quite a lot as I am an animal who could potentially end up getting barbecued. And just…ehhh to solid food.
    I’ve been in bondage for a couple of months but I have very much missed the beer in beerbecue even if the other side of it is frankly terrifying.
    I like the Haybag even more now knowing that she’s a vegetarian.

    • I’m guessing that you’ve consumed so much alcohol, that you would end up tasting funny. So you’re safe. Also, someone pointed out to me that the Haybag is a pescatarian because she occasionally eats fish. But it’s OK to eat fish, cause they haven’t any feeeeeelings.

  6. I have been suffering from irregularity as of late. Could you share with us your recipe for Beef and Guiness Stew?


    Hugh G. Rection

  7. John bought a smoker for all the salmon we caught, but the neighbours wanted to run us out of town because of the smell. It didn’t help that I agreed with them. We sent them out to be smoked and cured…. sooooooo good! I think my brother who used to live in Texas has a barbeque that divides into two sections – smoker and regular. YUM!

    • Nice. Texas folks take their equipment seriously, that’s for sure.

      Our salmon doesn’t get smelly…it’s mainly just the smoke (or maybe the neighbors haven’t complained YET). Although, we’re only doing like 2 pounds of salmon at a time so far….so maybe we have yet to reach a critical mass.

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