Saturday, April 5th at 2pm

Location: Masquerade Music Park

“We Smoke Pig Butts and We Cannot Lie” – Smoke Ring BBQ.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: http://www.hogsandhopsatlanta.com/

“We smoke big pig butts and we cannot lie,” huh? We have to admit that we too like smoked butts and cannot lie: we like them in rub, we like them in glub, we like them here or there, we like them everywhere. Dr. Seuss and Sir Mix A lot aside this festival was all about the food and there was more than I could fit into my belly.  At Hogs and Hops beer was flowing, the barbeque was smoked, the stew was stewing, the collards were steeping, all that being said are you hungry yet?  I drew up my elastic waist pants, gathered wet wipes, and dug in.
Brussels sprouts. Brussels sprouts? My favorite food of the festival was the Brussels sprouts from Smoke Ring. It was different and unexpected at a big barbeque festival. They combined what tasted like oil, garlic and salt. It was a thing of beauty, I might have muttered the words: To. Die. For. It wasn’t an understatement. I know it’s weird to talk about Brussels sprouts in a barbeque article so let’s move on. Of the barbeque variety there were two dishes that stood out to me: Bone Lick’s pulled pork straight from the hog was the first one. The pulled pork was tender with a lightly smoked and rich flavor, don’t ruin it with sauce, and eat it plain.  I had to go back for seconds and thirds. The second of my favorite barbeque offerings were the D.B.A Barbeque ribs. They were cooked to fall off the bone and had the right amount of spice and rub giving it a little bite. Along these same lines were was the best barbeque sandwich, by Moe’s Original Barbeque; it was the Turkey and Slaw. The turkey was tender and slightly smoky, while the slaw was vinegar based with the right amount of bitter cabbage and vinegar, topped with some mayonnaise. It was so good I ate the whole thing despite being stuffed up to my eye balls. Speaking of slaw, if you haven’t tried Sweet Auburn Barbecue’s Asian Pear Slaw, you’re missing out. Sweet. Salty. Vinegar-y. Slightly creamy; four good adjectives that should make your stomach growl. I know mine is! Let me take a minute here to mention that Greater Good Barbeque was the winner of the Hogs and Hops judges competition, but I didn’t get around to them as they were the furthest from the front. We will have to take a weekend adventure to try them and you should too.
Barbeque wasn’t the only thing on the menu like the Brussels sprouts, Bone Lick had some really good collards soaked with bacon, and another one of my favorites was the Italian Meatball from Mighty Meatball. It was smothered in marinara sauce, cooked, and then topped with more marinara sauce. Did I mention the meat was hand ground and they even make their own sausage? Phenomenal. Mighty Meatball has two food trucks and frequents the Atlanta Food Truck Park. You should go and hang out with these friendly, down to earth restaurateurs. Don’t forget the dessert. The line leading up to the tent said it all about The Naked Donut Company; they were fresh fried right on site and seconds before being topped. They were sweet and sticky with or without chocolate and sprinkles.


Barbeque and all the fixin’s weren’t the only draw, there was also some new Atlanta breweries and several new beers on tap to try. A new Atlanta brewery called Yes Face has a phenomenal beer called O Face Stout. It was one of those Stouts that you drink multiple of and enjoy the whole time.

Some stouts tend to get bitter over time or don’t have enough malt flavor but this had the right blend of both malt and flavor.  Have you ever heard of beer that tastes like pretzels? Look no further than Shock Top who now has a pretzel wheat beer that was surprisingly good (if you like pretzels as much as I do). It smelled like a bag of pretzels freshly opened and finishes with a slight pretzel flavor but smooth throughout.  I was surprised that I liked it so much because it was just so odd.  Speaking of pretzels, we’ve tried Knotty Pretzels a few times but paired with the Pretzel Wheat it was heaven. The local Atlanta pretzel company has some good flavors including Italian, which was really fresh and good.

With a full bell, we left Hogs and Hops with a smile on our faces. It was barbeque and beertastic and now I know what restaurants I’ll be going to for my barbeque fix.

Try any of these places for yourself, here’s a handy list:

Smoke Ring http://www.smokeringatlanta.com/

Bone Lick BBQ http://www.bonelickbarbecue.com/

D.B.A. Barbeque http://www.dbabarbecue.com/

Moe’s Original Barbeque http://www.moesoriginalbbq.com/

Mighty Meatballs Food Truck http://www.mightymeatballs.com/

The Naked Donut Company http://www.thenakeddonutcompany.com/home.html

Greater Good Barbeque http://greatergoodbbq.com/

Sweet Auburn Barbeque http://sweetauburnbbq.com/