Porker's BBQ Review (Naples, FL @ Naples Beach Brewery)
You've heard mention of Al, who lives in Marco Island, Florida and has posted to this blog a few times. Our friend Loni and I went to visit him. While the bulk of the time was spent eating seafood (Loni may live in the Houston area but I live in Austin), we did want to see if there was good BBQ in the area. As luck would have it, we were able to combine the trip with some good beer.
Porker's is not a typical business (at least by Texas standards). As near as I can tell, they are a small trailer only open Friday and Saturday at the Naples Beach Brewery (you were wondering why that was linked above, weren't you?).
(Al's comment: In talking with the guys, it looks like they have a commissary in the same park as the brewery, but that is mostly for the catering side of things.)
Despite being small they have a fairly good selection of meats. We hit the brewery about noon on Saturday, and ordered our BBQ about 12:30pm. They do a combo platter for one or two, so we just got it for 3. It consisted of pork belly, pork ribs, brisket, burnt ends, original sausage, and jalapeno-cheddar sausage.
Jalapeno-Cheddar Sausage: Al and Loni tried this one. It is an all-pork sausage. They both felt that while the basic preparation was good (juicy, good snap), the cheese was overpowering. That's one thing I seem to hear a lot about this particular type of sausage. It's hard to strike the balance, and too much cheese can get in the way. They rule it as decent, but not great. Loni gives it 6.0/10. Al gives it 6.5/10.
Brisket: Al and I try the brisket. It is tender and moist. Both of us agree that it is a touch heavy on salt, and light on pepper and smoke. There's a decent bark on it, so it is partially the rub and partially the wood. It is definitely on the high end of good, but not quite into great. The burnt ends (they were served separately) don't really change our impression. Al and I both give it 7.0/10.
Pork Ribs: The ribs have a good crust on them. There's a nice smoke flavor, and they are definitely tender without being overdone. There's a lot of meat on them. The rub has some nice pepper but also just a touch of sweetness from their sauce. Al and I both give them 8.5/10.
Pork Belly: The pork belly has a good smoky flavor. It's very tender and there is a very nice pepper flavor to them. They are a touch sweet as well. Loni gives it 8.0/10. Al and I give it 8.5/10.
Pulled Pork: Again, there's that touch of sweetness, and an excellent smoky flavor. It's moist without being greasy. It tastes just fine without the sauce, although sauce doesn’t hurt it. Loni gives it 8.0/10. Al and I give it 8.5/10.
Pork Loin: The pork Loin is tender and moist with a nice crust. It has a nice smoky flavor and a good touch of spice with just a hint of heat. Al and I both give it 8.0/10.
Original Sausage: This is also a pork sausage. There's a nice snap in the casing. You can taste smoke, some spice, and just a bit of heat. It's very tender and juicy as well. Al gives it 8.0/10 while Loni and I give it 8.5/10 (and Loni liked it enough that she ordered a second link to nibble on while Al and I were drinking).
The question I asked before I left on this trip was "Could anyone recommend a good BBQ place in South-West Florida"? No one came up with any suggestions. But it looks like we managed to find some anyway. Porker's is definitely turning out some fine quality smoked meats. Nothing scores below good, and everything pork related (except the jalapeno-cheddar sausage) rates as excellent and can hold its own with anything over here.
(Al's comment: It's my oasis in a BBQ desert. :-))
Is it worth a visit? Absolutely.
Is it worth a trip? Absolutely, with a disclaimer. To the best of my ability to determine, it is only open on Friday and Saturday at the Naples Beach Brewery. The Brewery is certainly worth a trip in itself, and there are some board games there as well as the usual TVs showing sports, but you may want to consider whether you pack the young kids up for a 60+ mile trip just for the BBQ if the venue doesn't appeal. But then, what's not to like about great BBQ and great beer?