Saturday, February 18, 2017

Kerlin BBQ Review (Austin, TX)  

Kerlin BBQ Webpage, Facebook, & Twitter  

Another weekend, and another new brewery. Scott and I were going to pay a visit to HiSign Brewing, and we figured it would be a good time to scope out Kerlin BBQ, especially since they’ve apparently started offering BBQ kolaches as a regular offering Wed – Sun from 9 – 11. We get down there about 10, with James meeting us for BBQ a little later.  

Kerlin has two food trailers (one for BBQ and one for kolaches) located on Caesar Chavez east of 35, a few blocks before reaching LaBBQ. They have a covered seating area. There’s no real line when we get there at 10. 

Kolaches: They list three regular offerings: a brisket and cheddar cheese; a pork shoulder and jack cheese; and a jalapeno sausage. They also do one special each day. Today’s was chorizo and egg (Sunday’s is scheduled to be spinach). They also sell drinks, water, and Ruta Maya Coffee, if you don't bring you own coffee.
Scott gets the sausage/cheddar and the chorizo, and I try the pork and the brisket.

We’ll talk about the kolaches in one big group here, and they're all outstanding. The bread has a nice sweetness that complimented the smoke in the meat. The cheese added a good creaminess to the pork shoulder and the chorizo was excellently seasoned. Scott really liked the jalapeno sausage. If there was any criticism at all, the cheddar in the brisket was almost a little overpowering, but it was still an excellent flavor.

(Incidentally, we know there’s a big debate over what is and isn’t a kolache (ahem...Wikipedia). Our response: This tastes good enough that if they want to call it a kolache we aren’t going to argue with them).

We discussed scoring as neither of us has had a BBQ kolache before (or more accurately any BBQ kolache experience we've had is so dated, that we'll start with a clean slate, assuming we know nothing (insert jokes here).) We decided on starting at 8.5/10. Not to say that they aren’t necessarily better than that, but you don’t want to set the bar too high on the first outing. They’ll certainly be the benchmark for future measurements. And in case you have any further doubts, I liked them enough that I put in a pre-order to take 24 to work the next day for my staff. Honestly, if James hadn’t been coming we probably would have just eaten kolaches all morning.

James showed up about 10:50 and the BBQ trailer itself opened promptly at 11:00. Interestingly, despite the good things we’ve heard about Kerlin there isn’t a line. We're the first at the order window. They have a small meat menu: brisket, pork ribs, pork shoulder, and sausage (we ask if it is jalapeno and the lady serving says yes). They do some sandwiches and a Frito pie as well. We get enough of a sampling to try everything. James also gets a chopped beef sandwich.

Sausage: As noted above, they indicated the sausage was a jalapeno sausage. However, the consensus among us was that on THIS sausage (as opposed to the kolache), none of us tasted jalapeno. There was some nice heat, but it seemed to be from red pepper. The sausage had a good snap and texture, but was a bit heavy on the grease. Scott and James didn’t mind this quite as much as I did. Scott and James score it 8.0/10. I give it 7.5/10 (just a tad too greasy for my taste).
(P.S: When I picked up my kolaches Sunday morning they clarified that the sausage is a hotlink (which matches what we were tasting). When they use them in the kolaches, they add pickled jalapeños. So we are no longer confused.)

Brisket: The brisket looks gorgeous, and has a wonderful smoke flavor. There’s a lot of nice pepper. Scott and I did each get one bite that was a hair dry, but the rest was perfectly moist and tender, that “melt in the mouth” consistency. All of us call this 8.75/10. (Scott's comment: Burnt end lottery winner!) 

Pork Rib: The ribs have a lovely pepper crust, yet there’s a nice sweetness as well. They have the right amount of tenderness and resistance, and there’s a lot of meat on each bone. The flavor includes some excellent smoke and goes all the way to the bone. One of the best pork ribs we’ve had. James gives it 9.0/10. Scott and I give it 9.5/10.  

Pork Shoulder: This is moist without being greasy. Looks like they use the same seasoning as on the rib, as there is the nice combination of pepper and sweet. No gristle to speak of in the mix. Scott and James give it 9.0/10. I give it 9.5/10.  

Kerlin is turning out some excellent BBQ. The menu may be smaller than some places, but everything is excellent. It’s worth checking out. I honestly can’t figure out why the lines aren’t bigger.  

Is it worth a visit? Yep. 

Is it worth a trip? Absolutely. Hell, I’d have called it a worthwhile trip just for the kolaches.  
To beer or not to beer?!
And while you’re in the area, detour a few miles east and check out Hi Signbrewing. They had their soft opening last weekend, and will have their official opening 3/16/17. They are making some great beer, including a Blood Orange Coffee Stout. We know it sounds strange, but it is really good!