Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Joe York rules the world!

Sometimes when I forget why I started BBQing with extreme prejudice - when I worry more about how to impress KCBS judges rather than my family and neighbors - I'm thrown a bone from a Good Samaritan and I am able to call to mind what a true blessing BBQ is to me and my culture. That bone often comes in the form of a Joe York documentary.

Joe York is to BBQ what Ken Burns is to everything else American. He is a master documentarian who has a special gift for telling the story of America's cuisine. I have seen his previous short films, Capitol Q and Whole Hog, so many times that I can talk along with the filmed dialog - his films are that good.

I was delighted to come across Karen Walker's (of the Kansas City BBQ Society) Facebook status today because she included a link to Joe's new film, Cut/Chop/Cook. I am shamelessly lifting that link and putting it on my blog. If you want to say thanks to Karen, get or renew your subscription to KCBS and tell 'em she's the reason. You might also want to check out some of her BBQ photos. She's an artist in her own right!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Skyrockets in flight...afternoon delight!

In 1976, the Starland Vocal Band made BBQ cool. Until then most people preferred boiled meats and jerkey to anything that would resemble what we have come to know as BBQ. Smoking meat hadn't been invented and most men, as a result of the feminist movement, didn't even know how to build a fire. Then everything changed. With a few words put in delicious harmony the world of modern BBQ was born. In not so coded language, the essence of smoked ribs and brisket was captured and released into the airwaves of post hippy America.

Skyrockets in flight
Afternoon delights...

The explosion was instantaneous. People began to venture outdoors in the afternoon and were delighted by what they were able to produce on what they called "grills." On a sunny day (June 18, 1976) soon after the song was released the Weber company decided to market an oversized baseball shaped beer cooler as a grill and the birth of the modern kettle grill was realized.

In honor of the 34th anniversary of BBQ, I have decided to partake in some afternoon delights of my own. I picked up some ribeyes at a local rural groceria and decided to throw a brisket and some pork butts on my pellet smoker. Here's to America and the American way. And I hope you have a chance to enjoy some afternoon delights of your own this weekend!

Click here for the soundtrack to this historical monograph - Afternoon Delight

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

If someone hands me a can of beer my habit is to say a quick "thank you" to whoever was kind enough to share a barley pop with me. Then, when they aren't looking, I dump it in any hole I can find so long as it isn't my mouth!

Words like "light" and "drinkability" are sure signs that whatever is in that can isn't worth my time or trouble. As Hunter Thompson once wrote, "Good people drink good beer." Well, I may not be a good person, but I sure do expect my beer to be borderline awesome. So it's craft beer for me - all the way.

However, tonight I experienced two worlds collide and I have to admit I enjoyed the experience. Our local Hy-Vee stores have been carrying a ton of good beers as of late and today I stumbled on a real treat. Sitting on a shelf, at eye level no less!, was a four pack of Roller Dam Red Ale from Great River Brewery - in cans!!!

A BBQ friend of mine, Ryan Newstrom from Big T'z Q Cru, mentioned that a friend of his (and sponsor) had opened a brew pub in my neck of the woods. I have not had a chance to visit the brewery so I jumped at the chance to try their beer.

Get this - they actually put the IBU's on the can (30, for what it's worth). Maybe I'm easily impressed, but when beer artisans are willing to waste good money printing info that only beer nerds understand on the package I get the feeling I'm about to enjoy myself....tremendously! And this beer didn't let me down.

It's a typical American Amber Ale that is wonderfully malty while giving enough hop aroma and flavor to keep things interesting. The color, as one would expect, is a wonderful amber that brought to mind a cricket held in hopeless suspension in amber on my desk when I was a little shaver. The head was a pleasant golden color that disappeared rather quickly, probably due to the fact that I poured it into a glass that was washed in detergent. What can I say - I wasn't expecting good beer tonight!

As the can indicates, the beer is named for Mississippi River Lock and Dam No. 15, which is located south of The Great River Brewery brewhouse. Despite what you may think about Texas, the biggest roller dam in the world just happens to be Mississippi River Lock and Damn No. 15. Additionally, the best brisket cooks in the free world are found in Iowa as well - but don't tell that to any Texans.

The fact that a local brew pub had managed to get their beer in cans and on a highly desired location in a grocery store beer cooler gives me pause to reflect on how lucky my generation is to have access to these craft concoctions. Imagine finding a beer of this quality on beer shelves in the mid eighties. Never would have happened.

I am a happy camper tonight. This good beer has made me feel like a good person living in a good place to live - rural Iowa. So support your local brew pub. And if you can't, then support mine. Give this beer a try if you are able. If you can't, then live vicariously through me. I do it all the time!