Beer is a lovely word. We can all agree on that. Beer. There it is. If you had to add an adjective in front of such a glorious noun with the aim of improving it further, what would it be? Delicious? Cheap? Gold-plated? What about free?! FREE BEER. That is the maximum possible improvement of the word "beer." That is also the no-brainer this barbecue place is offering. It's not just Miller Lite or whatever urine is normally given away free, either. It's real, honest-to-Texan-God Shiner Bock. I haven't pushed the limits of this offer yet, but I will report back over whether I can purchase one small side and sit there for five hours, getting increasingly drunk and shouting at my mac and cheese. "HEY MAC AND CHEESE! WHAT THE FUCK, DUDE! IS THAT BACON? YOU ARE SO AWESOME."
The website for Smokey Jack's Barbeque does not look promising. The photography is Gavin-standards (by which I mean it looks like someone stood on a ladder, zoomed in, went out of focus and forgot to use anything approaching natural light). It's also heavy on pulled pork, and the "about us" section reads like it was thrown together by the Random Grammar Generator and a man who is too forward with the truth. I don't need to know you borrowed money from your parents to start a barbecue restaurant! I'd rather you told me you won the lottery, or married into the Romney family or that you're Bono. Actually, I totally wouldn't go to a barbecue restaurant run by Bono, unless each free beer came with a free punch to Bono's smug face.
I digress. Again. Anyway, upon arriving, you notice this place is brand new and shiny. (It opened in January. Presumably the free beer is related to licensing problems.) It's in a strip mall, next to a gas station, on the far reaches of Royal Lane by DFW Airport. Everything about it screams "not promising." I much prefer places that are shacks that couldn't possibly have passed a health inspection. This joint is so clean and healthy that we weren't even sure it contained barbecue, more like some fancy health product designed to get women to spend $75 on a cream or something. Smokey Jack's Barbie Cream.
Inside, it's similarly clean. It reminds me a lot of Fat Cow BBQ in Lewisville, which was gleaming and bright, and also seemingly boiled their ribs. However, that place did not offer me free beer. Enough free beers will make me forget my location quite easily, as several Friday nights in Deep Ellum will attest.
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Anyway, it's relatively expensive, this place, possibly to compensate for the beer, and a half pound of brisket, quarter pound of sausage and half slab of ribs (plus mac and cheese for my boy) came to $30.
It must be said that this place beats the shit out of Fat Cow. (That is a technical food review term.) The ribs were incredible, almost unbelievably good. They had enough grip to cling on to the bone, but still came right off with a bite, and the rub was beautiful. They were also Smokey, exactly how Jack intended. I was somewhat blown away. The sausage and brisket were also way beyond edible, and even the mac and cheese was distinctly homemade with proper cheese. They even had four different barbecue sauces, all of which are making me sad right now just thinking how I don't have any sauce.
I suspect that the combination of low expectations and free alcohol has something to do with the happiness I felt in this place. Indeed, a couple of people on Twitter (@EnglishmanInBBQ) who went here after I wrote "FREE BEER!" in capital letters several times have reported to me since that in fact, not only am I completely wrong, but also that I smell bad and I have a weird face. If the Internet's done one thing, it's make deeply personal and hurtful attacks more convenient and easily accessible for all of us.
I guess, as this is a new place, it will have a problem with consistency, but I must say that the day I went it was really fantastic. Much better than I expected. If you go, and I am completely wrong, just remember that I am foreign and I don't know what I'm talking about. Also, shut up and drink free beer.