The Rating Game

Beef rib count confirmed; details to follow

The winning ribs
The winning ribs (by John Anderson)

From the time Food Editor Virginia B. Wood first announced Mick Vann’s inaugural Austin Chronicle Invitational BBQ Beef Rib Smackdown, I think we all pretty much understood that the competition itself was not really going to be the point.

Mick wanted to write about beef ribs – who does them, why so many places don’t do them, how big a difference there can be in the cut of the meat, and how many different cooking styles are on offer by a lot of relatively young pit bosses in the Austin area. So, next week, he’ll do that, and I’m looking forward to reading it in the Jan. 17 issue. Meanwhile …

We did the tasting event yesterday, and it was a nice, informal event, Downtown at Palm Door. As I was fortunate (and hungry) enough to be one of the judges, I got to eat 11 different takes on beef ribs – with not a bad one in the bunch. I also got to meet a lot of barbecue folks, learn a few things, and find out about a few new places. And that seemed to be the experience most people there had, as there was enough meat for the assembled pit bosses and barbecue fans to sample each others' wares as well.

But when we announced the top three scores to the group, we didn’t give any thought to the fact that, from that moment, the town would be all atwitter about the "winners," without us even publicly announcing them: making the competition the point of the story after all, even before Mick writes his story. Silly us.

So anyway, for the record, the top three scores in our eight-judge blind tasting went to beef ribs from:

1. Micklethwait Craft Meats
2. La Barbecue
3. Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew

And here's a list of the other eight entrants, in alphabetical order, because there were a lot of really good beef ribs in the bunch, from some places I'd not been aware of.

The Blue Ox
The County Line
Freedmen’s Bar
It’s All Good Bar-B-Q
Lamberts Downtown Barbecue
Kerlin BBQ
Live Oak Barbecue
Mann’s Smokehouse

Again, read about them, and about the sloppy glory that is the barbecued beef rib, in the Jan. 17 issue.

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