PNWBA Thriftway Classic

by zydecopaws on June 7, 2009

Today I took a drive down to Aloha Oregon and wandered around the Pacific Northwest BBQ Association (PNWBA) Thriftway Classic competition mostly to see what the local competitions are all about.  Oh yeah, and to sample others BBQ and see how mine stacks up.

My soon-to-be 7-year old and I roamed around the Thriftway parking lot where canopies and smoke had clearly taken over.  We saw a little of everything in the way of smokers, starting with your basic verticals and offsets.  These belonged to a nice couple from the 2nd Church of BBQ, and as you can see from the ribbons and trophy, they’ve had some success on the circuit.  We sampled some of their pulled pork (we were too early for their brisket) which was a bit on the sweet side and had a hammy consistency rather than the shred that I was expecting.  They admitted they were unhappy with the results and were going to go back to using bone-in meat for their next comp.

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There were a lot of WSMs in sight, along with some chest smokers as well.

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Here’s another picture with a row of WSMs in the back, and a nice trailer-style stick burner with the obligatory competition bulldog down front.

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They had some monster smokers as well; if I heard correctly this one was on sale for a mere $18,000.  No, I didn’t reach for my checkbook…

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While I was there I ran into Saucyribs (Adam Cox, a fellow Twitterer) who wasn’t having the greatest of days.  Apparently they got the schedule mixed up and turned in brisket when pulled pork was due.  Needless to say they didn’t score very well on the pulled pork, but they did learn a valuable lesson for the next comp.  These guys had an Evo, which is a portable version of what you see in Mongolian BBQ joints.  Pretty cool little grill that Adam used to make Flambe on Saturday evening and a full breakfast (sausage, eggs, pancakes) Sunday morning.  You can see it in this picture off to the right trying to hide behind the bushes.  And no, Adam wasn’t in this picture; I think he was off handing in the brisket for the second time.

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Not shown in any of the pictures are the nice folks from Slabtown Ribs, a relatively new BBQ joint in downtown Portland (2606 NW Vaughn, for those of you that might be in the area).  I chatted with them for quite awhile as they had a trailer stick burner and some well-used WSMs.  The WSMs were so well-used (nice way to say they were black all over) that I had to comment on them, only to discover that they got that way by being in use 6 days a week at their restaurant.  I’m gonna have to go by and give them a try one of these days, as their brisket and pulled pork samples were pretty tasty, and occasionally I like to eat other folk’s cooking.

All in all it was a nice morning.  I met quite a few nice people and sampled a fair amount of pulled pork and a few bites of brisket.  If you’ve reached this point in the post and are wondering why I haven’t said more about the food, it’s likely because I wasn’t overly impressed.  Some of what I had was really good, but none was great.  In talking with some of the competitors, they mentioned that they cook different at comps than they do at home as the judges typically don’t go for the real spicy varieties.  That might be a problem for me, as I figured out today that the real fun at BBQ comps is participating, not wandering through as a spectator.  I guess now I’m going to have to get an education and figure out how to get started…

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