Brotherton BBQ/Leroy & Lewis BBQ -
Pop-up Event at the Growler Bar (Pflugerville, TX)
John Brotherton of Brotherton BBQ and Evan LeRoy (former pitmaster at Freedman’s Bar) teamed up for a popup event at The Growler bar in Pflugerville. These are two of the best pitmasters in the area, although neither has a brick and mortar or permanent trailer spot at present (but each have plans in the work as I understand it?). But they keep their fans happy with events such as this (and judging from the line I suspect the Growler Bar is pleased with the business it brings in as well).
There’s a nice crowd. I arrived at 3:45 and was about 25 spots back in line. I was joined by my friend James, and had a nice conversation with Tim (and later his friend Jeff) whom we ended up sitting with. When I left at 7:15, I’d estimate there were still 70-80 people in line.
The meat menu for this event is a combination of classics and unusual. John is providing brisket, pork spare ribs, and a bacon cheeseburger sausage. Evan offers up arroz con pollo boudin, boudin stuffed quail, and a bacon chop. I’ll be trying everything, and you’ll get ratings from James, Jeff, and Tim (guest scoring) based on their orders.
Bacon Cheeseburger Sausage: We all agreed this was well-made, with a nice snap to the casing. It was juicy and tender without being greasy. But for some reason the flavor didn’t really wow any of us. It was good, but felt like it was missing something that kept it from being great. On the way home I finished off my last bite and I think I figured out what it was (IMHO): it’s TOO much like a cheeseburger. I’m tasting the beef, and the cheese, but I’m not getting that spice flavor that makes me think sausage. This may be a case where too much accuracy wasn’t ideal.
Scoring Disclaimer: We all agreed that the quality of the preparation was well done. It was flavor that was the weak link for us. Tim - 6.0/10, James, Jeff, Tom – 7.0/10. Avg: 6.75/10.
Bacon Chop: The bacon chop had an excellent flavor. There was some nice smoke and spice. It was a bit tough on the outside parts, although more tender as you got closer to the bone. The toughness was more of an issue to some than to others. Jeff – 6.5/10, Tim - 7.0/10, Tom – 8.0/10. Avg: 7.17/10.
Arroz con Pollo Boudin: A nice snap on the casing. Could be a bit more tightly packed, as it is a hair soft even for boudin, but it has an excellent flavor. There some nice pieces of pepper to compliment the spices. Tom – 8.0/10.
Pork Ribs: The ribs have a nice crust. There’s pepper, but also a nice sweetness at the finish. There’s a lot of meet on mine, and the flavor goes to the bone. Tim – 8.0/10, Tom – 8.5/10. Avg: 8.25/10.
Brisket: I forgot to specify, and I ended up with lean. Despite that, it is extremely tender and flavorful. There’s black pepper but also something a bit hotter this time? I can only imagine what the moist was like, because this is close to melt in the mouth anyway. Tim and Jeff – 8.0/10, James and Tom – 9.0/10. Avg: 8.5/10.
Boudin Stuffed Quail: I’ve always found BBQ quail to be very hit or miss, primarily because it is very easy to dry it out. Not in this case. It is perfectly juicy, with a nice crusty skin that is excellently seasoned. The boudin adds a wonderful flavor as well. This is perfect. I’d be happy eating nothing but these all night. Tom – 10/10.
I’d heard someone in line wondering why two pitmasters would team up. Why aren’t they doing it by themselves to promote their own business? I can’t (and won’t) speak for their reason, but I do think a collaboration like this shows one of the best things about BBQ. There’s a lot of different things out there to try. No one pitmaster is going to be the best at every type of smoked meat or creative combination there is. A collaboration like this allows two excellent pitmasters to combine their skills to bring us an offering that is more than the sum of their parts. They get to show their talents to a potentially wider audience, and we…we get to taste the results.
Can’t really do the normal summation since neither of them has a permanent location (yet). But if you can catch one or both somewhere, they are both worth trip distance (60 miles or more one way).