Oak Cliff's annual Blues, Bandits and BBQ this weekend isn't just an opportunity to gorge yourself on competition-worthy smoked meats. It's also a historic moment for Dallas -- the first chance to buy beer from Four Corners Brewing Co., one of the breweries featured in Lauren Drewes Daniels' excellent story this week about the DFW craft beer revolution.
Four Corners will provide Local Buzz, a golden ale made with rye and local honey Friday and Saturday at the festival site (715 W. Davis St., three blocks west of the Bishop Arts District).
"It's a collaboration between Steve [Porcari, one of the four owners] and me," brewmaster John Sims says. "It will probably be our flagship. We expect it to be the most popular."
A straight-from-the-fermenter sample cup gives credence to that notion. Even pre-filtering, the light, crisp and refreshing beer tasted very clean and smooth, with subtle hints of the honey and rye not overwhelming the beer.
"We put a little rye in to give a spicy balance, and it has a nice honey aroma," Sims says. "It's a fairly light offering, but not light on flavor. We had success with a fall version, a more full-bodied version, and trimmed it down to make it more of a year-round beer."
Joining it as one of Four Corners' year-round "All Day Ales" (but not at Blues, Bandits and BBQ) will be Roja's Red Ale, which Sims describes as a "nice malty, caramelly medium-bodied American red ale with a lot of Pacific Northwest hops in it."
Other planned brews include an English brown ale, a porter (which I also got to try -- it's very rich in flavor but not too heavy) and an American pale ale. Also, Sims plans to do IPAs a bit differently. "We're going to do seasonable IPAs based on what hops are available," he says. "People who really like hops are always going for whatever's new on the shelf."
You can be among the first to try Local Buzz at the BB&BBQ beer garden 5 to 10 p.m. Friday as the competitors fire up their smokers, or during the competition itself noon to 6 p.m. Saturday.
As Lauren mentioned earlier, 23 teams will be smoking five different categories of meats: brisket, ribs, pulled pork, sausage and chicken. Entry is free but if you want to try any of the BBQ, you have to buy a tasting wristband in advance for $20. That entitles you to vote in the People's Choice award from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday. Otherwise you can buy food on site, including vegetarian options.
Friday night will be a bigger deal this year than in the previous two years, says Go Oak Cliff's Rob Shearer, one of the organizers. As long as all the teams are there smoking out, why not have the evening be part of the party? Smoke chef Tim Byres will lead a wood-fire cooking clinic at 6 p.m. Live music starts at 5 p.m. (Dallas Family Band at 7 followed by Chris Johnson of Telegraph Canyon at 7:30 ought to be on your agenda), and Bonnie and Clyde screens at 9 p.m.
Saturday music highlights include The Roomsounds at 1:30 p.m. and RTB2 at 4, but if you really want to experience the blues part of the event's three Bs, be sure to catch Rev. K.M. Williams and Trainwreck as the Rev. shows how it's done with a diddley bow.
As for bandits, Bonnie and Clyde aren't the only ones. Legendary Dallas pitmaster Clyde Biggins, who is trying to get back to the barbecue business after a 16-year federal bid for drug trafficking, is competing with BBQ Posse.
Judges this year include Alice "Cheap Bastard" Laussade and me. Former Observerer Robert Wilonsky will climb over the paywall to sort the remarkable from the teeeeerrrrrrible. Rounding out the 10-person panel are Jeff Bergus, Lockhart Smokehouse; Chris Jeffers, Smoke; Rachel Stone, Advocate Magazine; Todd Johnson, D Magazine; Justin Fourton, Pecan Lodge; Diane Fourton, Pecan Lodge; and Michael Dilger, Eno's.