I have lived in a town within easy driving distance of Oklahoma Joe’s BBQ in Kansas City for longer than I care to say. Occasional reports would filter back of a magical gas-station meat cookery, the products of which could help a lame man to walk or a blind man to see. A certain cantankerous New York food guru named it number 12 on his list of 13 places to eat before you die, a to-do list a plebeian like me could never hope to complete. While entertaining a party of out-of-town visitors recently, I found myself obliging in their request to visit this establishment, and I was not disappointed. Until I saw the beer list.

First, a confession: I never really understood the religious fanaticism with which some people approach barbecue. This is not to say I don’t appreciate good barbecue–I do. I can often be found, giddy with glee, at the intersection of meat and fire. However, the idea of seeking out one particular Mecca for such a diverse culinary genre seemed like a charming eccentricity.

I was wrong. Oklahoma Joe’s is good. Really good. Really. Good. It is not just good Kansas City barbecue (and in fact, does not display many of the hallmarks of that particular style), it transcends style to throw a party in the taster’s tummy.

All of this made the crushing blow of their beer list, a murderer’s row of lagers, pilsners, and wheat beers, that much crueler. After the perfect blend of spice, smoke, meat, and sauce, a wheat beer, even if it’s a Boulevard Wheat, isn’t going to cut it. I could feel the absence of hop tang like the tingle of a phantom limb. Is this unreasonable? Should I just have been thankful for the palate-cleanser? Or instead, should we stand up as one and demand Oklahoma Joe’s show some self-respect and start carrying Boulevard Single-Wide at the very least?

12 thoughts on “HAVE SOME SELF-RESPECT

  1. Welcome to my world, BMC has a tight grip on things here too.
    I feel you pain
    Do they let you bring your own ( corking fee?)
    I think they shoot people here for that……
    That’s why I don’t ever leave Jacks tire repair & BBQ

  2. They serve beers that their customers want (as far as they know) – so it’s up to aleheads to very politely ask if they’d carry a certain kind of beer. Your mission could be to show them how well it pairs with their food – and I assume they would enjoy that. One could do worse than to have purveyors of such delicious food be among your friends.

  3. Not a lot of BBQ joints take their beer list very seriously. Maybe its partly because lagers and pilsners are a safe bet with BBQ. Maybe it’s the clientele (a lot of foodies and people who like good beer will pay lip-service to great BBQ, but don’t frequently show up). Maybe it’s because many of them have a heavy take-out business. Or maybe the thought never crossed their mind.

    That being said, I think attitudes may be changing. We have a place here (Northern VA), Pork Barrel BBQ, that has a thoughtful beer list. Unfortunately, their BBQ is just decent (although their competition BBQ is very good). I deserve both, don’t I?

  4. Here in Boston (Somerville) we have one of the best beer lists you’ll ever see at a BBQ joint at Redbones. Consistently one of the better draught lists around. Of course, we don’t know how to do BBQ so that part pretty much blows, but at least the beer is good. I see your point and it’s a really tough call on my part, but I’d take a great BBQ place with shitty beer over crap BBQ with good beer any day. I guess one always wants what they can’t get.

    1. That’s why I just stay home
      You know the old say’in you can’t have your cake & Edith too!!!

  5. One of the best things about going to school in Urbana, IL was Black Dog Smoke and Alehouse, a fantastic BBQ restaurant that took the “alehouse” part of its title quite seriously. They even make craft beer bbq sauces, like a New Holland Dragon’s Milk Sauce, for instance.

    1. Black Dog seems to be almost unanimously one of, if not the best thing about the Chambana “metro” area. That, and the garter snake hibernaculum on the U of I campus…

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