Due to their close proximity, I probably could have sampled both Champions BBQ & Luckie B’s Bar-B-Que in the same day. Instead of being a complete food lush, I decided to separate my visits to the neighboring BBQ establishments. A few weeks after my visit to Champions BBQ, I pulled into a parking spot at Luckie B’s with a healthy appetite created by a long day working in the summer heat. Needless to say my desire for delicious food and a cold beverage was extremely high and my patience for waiting was low. Fortunately for me there were only a few patrons at Luckie B’s when I came in for my mid-afternoon visit. I thought about grabbing one of the numerous open tables, but deicided to head to the bar with the hope of speedy service. I was quickly greeted by the friendly bartender who informed me of Happy Hour specials which included half off appetizers, $3 margaritas, $1 off all draft beer, and more. My eyes immediately went to the beer taps to see if Luckie B’s had a beer that would work with my food selection. Normally I mull over my menu options before I choose a beer, but I already had a vague idea of what food I was going to order. Since I ordered a smoked brisket sandwich during my visit to Champions BBQ, I knew I wanted to order something similar in order to compare the two establishments. With my food order already placed in my mind, I began to debate my drink choice. While I scanned the draft list, my bartender informed me that they were trying to get rid of a keg of Boddington’s to make way for a new beer, so pints were only a $1. As tempting as this offer was (I love nitro beers) I decided to go with a beer from one of my favorite local breweries. I ordered a pint of Cigar City’s Hotter than Helles Lager, then grabbed a menu to find something similar to the smoked brisket sandwich.
While I searched for the sandwich section in my menu I couldn’t help but notice the range of menu items Luckie B’s offered. The menu contained appetizers, salads, soups, burgers, seafood, and prime rib believe it or not. I think it is obvious that both BBQ locations are trying to offer unique BBQ menu items in order to differenticate themselves from one another. Regardless of the numerous menu choices, I found my food selection: the sliced brisket sandwich. My sandwich order came with one side item so I initially chose the cheezy potatoes, but my helpful bartender told me she wasn’t too crazy about them. She suggested I go with the southern potato salad, which I quickly agreed with since I had a feeling she knew more about the food at Luckie B’s than I did. Pleased with my food order, I leaned back in my chair and began to sip my Hotter than Helles Lager. The first thing I noticed was the sweetness of the beer. It possessed an initial taste of honey followed by the malty flavor of a lager. Craft beer lager’s are so much different than mass produced lagers like Pabst Blue Ribbon or Budweiser. I hate to sound like a beer snob, but the difference is obvious. The Hotter than Helles Lager did not have the fizzyness that I feel mass produced lagers possess. The lack of fizzyness gave the taste of the beer a chance to shine through and linger, which allowed me to savor the beer instead of drink it with reckless abandonment. This was important because I wanted to make sure that I had some beer left to pair with my sliced brisket sandwich.
It didn’t take long for my bartender to return with my sandwich. Once she set the sandwich down I could tell it was going to be very different from the one I ordered at Champions. The sandwich was served on a hoagie roll and topped with melted cheddar cheese and sauteed onions. Under these toppings set two thick slices of smoked brisket. I pulled off a piece of the brisket to sample it without any of the toppings and was immediately impressed by its juicyness. The smokey flavor was uniform throughout the meat and the outside bark contained the showcase of spices used in the dry rub. The melted cheese and sauteed onions reminded me of a cheesesteack, but the taste made me realize it was way more appetizing than any cheesesteak I have ever had. It was so tasty that I probably would have been satisfied to eat it without any sauces, but I wanted to sample the sauces Luckie B’s had to offer. Luckie B’s, like Champions, had several sauces to choose from. I sampled them all and was particularly fond of the mustard based BBQ sauce. The tangyness of the mustard base really went well with the sweetness of the brisket. I was halfway thru my sandwich before I realized that I hadn’t even touched the bartender recommended potato salad. I could tell visually that they used red potatoes and more of a mayo based for the potato salad. But when I tasted it I noticed it was not heavy like store bought potato salads can be. They definitiely used mayo, but it seemed like they added something else to make it lighter, possibly sour cream. In addition to the potato salad’s light creaminess, it also had diced onions, eggs, and celery. When the bartender came over and asked me if I was enjoying my meal and told her “Yes, and you were right about the potato salad.” Unfortunately, there was one thing wrong with my meal, and it was caused by yours truly.
I quickly realized that my beer selection did not work with my food selection. Each of them were super tasty separately, but when combined they did not complement each other like I would have like. I probably would have been better off going with a darker or heavier beer like a brown ale or an IPA. Pairing a lighter beer like a lager with smoked red meat was probably a faux pas on my part, but hey, that’s what this blog is about. I’ve already stated that I am in no way a beer or food expert, so even though this is the first time in TF+BC that I have made a less then desirable food & beer pairing, I’m sure it won’t be the last. Going to eateries like Luckie B’s and discovering what goes with what is a big part of the reason why I started TF+BC. Regardless of my food & beer pairing at Luckie B’s, my overall experience there was extremely positive. Now that I’ve sampled both Champions BBQ & Luckie B’s, I will decide on which barbecue establishment in my opinion reigns supreme on 4th St.