Can a corn dog change your life? Yes. Yes it can.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: http://www.hogsandhopsatlanta.com/
By Liz and John Attaway
The billowing BBQ smoke twisted its way into the clear, spring air, while meat, veggies, and even doughnuts were welcoming their finishing touches before the masses descended upon them. This year’s Hogs and Hops 2015 was a mecca of BBQ taste testing with everything from pork sausage, corn dogs, pulled pork, Hawaiian park tacos, bacon, collard, mac and cheese, wings, and even corn, donuts, and popsicles. Beyond the cuisine, there was beer to pair and entertainment to watch. So we sipped along, chowed down, and enjoyed every savory bite. There were so many good things to taste, we should have brought our elastic waist pants.
Let’s dive right in to the meat and potatoes of this festival: the BBQ! Of all the offerings at Hogs and Hops, Smoke Ring’s pulled pork was the of the pork BBQ category. It was slightly smoky, tender on the inside, yet a delightful crisp on the outside. It was so tender and flavorful that we had seconds. I’d have to say, my favorite overall tasting was the Pallookaville Corn Dogs. More carnie food than BBQ, it was a flavorful, salty, pork hotdog enveloped in a perfectly fried cheese batter that had a sweet, fluffy inside and crisp, fried outside. It was salty, sweet and glorious. Bravo, Pallookaville! Can a corn dog change your life? Yes. Yes it can. Now I get why your lines are epically long at festivals. Let’s not forget DBA Barbeque that brought a smorgasbord of goodies that included their deliciously delightful smoked turkey, as well as their crisp bacon. Starting with the smoked turkey, which was the best pork alternative being tender and juicy. They also were the only participant that brought bacon. That’s a win in our books. John had about 10 helpings. I think those were probably his favorite.
Beyond the traditional BBQ offerings was Sweet Auburn’s pork taco filled with pork, sauce, and slaw. I have to say the sweet, Asian inspired slaw was the perfect topping, even go as far to say the best part of this taco. We enjoyed it! In the veggie category two stood out: Hottie Hawgs corn and Pallookaville’s Collards. The corn was the right amount of sweet and smoky, topped with butter and seasoning salt, of course, hold the butter for me. I snuck a piece of DBA’s bacon around a piece of my corn. I must say what a mashup that was! Healthy BBQ option? I think so! Then, the collards at Pallookaville were crunchy, balanced with vinegar and slight ham flavor. I’ll take a big fat bowl any day.
Deserts were scarce but they did have several King of Pops flavors and The Naked Donut Co. We love the Naked Donut Co and their donuts remind me of benefits. Little flavor pillows fried and topped with whatever you want from deulce de leche, candied bacon, cinnamon, brown sugar, to maple glaze. Too bad they were out of the candied bacon, but who could blame them they had the longest line at the festival. I bet it was divine. Picture it with me now.
One tidbit about the beer before we bring Hogs and Hops 2015 to a close: did you know Porters go well with smoked BBQ? You learn something new every day! It’s the right amount of malt that mixes with the meat’s smoke that really does it! My favorite of the porters was Jekyll’s Smoked Porter. It paired the best with the pulled pork from Smoke Ring. Reformation also had a very good stout called Stark with a good balance of malt and hops. I also discovered was Eagle Creek Puffs Magic Stout. I like Irish Stouts so-so and will drink one in a pinch but this one had more body and flavor, not as “nitro” or bland as most Irish Stouts I encounter. I also like that it wasn’t as dry.
With too much food in our bellies and some beer on our minds, I left with only one on my mind: stuffed. Can we do it again this weekend? If you find you missed out on this one and you’d like to come out to one of Atlanta Beer Festival’s other events there are many coming up including Kennesaw Craft Beer Festival on Saturday, May 2nd and then Summer Beer Festival back at The Masquerade, Saturday, June 20th. Cheers!