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Lucy Saunders
4230 N. Oakland #178
Shorewood WI
53211 USA
@ site name

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The village of Windsor, site of the founding of the state of Vermont, is also home to the Harpoon Brewery's expanded brewhouse. Bought from the former Catamount Brewery, Harpoon's huge brewery and state-of-the-art bottling line,with gift shop and visitor's center, borders the Connecticut River.

Heavenly wing BBQ at Harpoon Brewery

And there, close by the shores of the serene river, billowed smoke and sparks for two days straight as Harpoon hosted the New England Barbecue Championships.

In 2002, when I visited as a judge, more than 25 teams from across New England set up camp kitchens, built fires in BBQ pits, and pitched tents or spread sleeping bags in the back of their vans and trucks.
Jed Labonte aka

Overnight, shifts of cooks stoked their BBQ fires to stay "slow and low" for the most succulent ribs, briskets, and more.

Now the event draws more than 40 BBQ teams from around New England and beyond. In 2007, the weekend of July 28-29 is devoted to the BBQ competition which is full. Tickets are available for attendees at $6 per person.

Day two, the Championship BBQ judges sampled fare that required less lengthy tending, such as chicken wings, seafood, and the creative "chef's choice" category.

Throughout the weekend, the Harpoon Brewery poured beer and soda fresh from the brewery tanks. Brews on tap included the IPA, ESP, unfiltered hefeweizen UFO, and (new to me) the Harpoon Summer Beer - a truly tasty Kolsch ale).

Kid's keg bowling at Harpoon NE BBQ Championships - kids enjoyed balloon art, face painting, coloring, and root beer

Harpoon set up a sound stage providing music (The Nobby Reed Project, Dr. Burma, and Anything Goes), brewery tours and games (such as mini keg bowling) for the kids.

Led by Mark Gelo, officials certified by the Kansas City Barbecue Society judged four main categories - chicken, pork, ribs and brisket. Other categories included sausages and a special competition to make a BBQ dish with a beer-based sauce.



BBQ teams sported hilarious handles, such as Dr. Frank N Swine, Bare Bones, Pork Floyd, and I Smell Smoke! Dr FrankNSwine from Orleans MA

Pigs fly at the Smoke Ring, Cambridge, MA - a lucky charm for the Grand Champion team






The various pork memorabilia on display also gave fest-goers the giggles - a crowd favorite was the flying pig on display at the Smoke Ring of Cambridge.

Andy Husbands, chef-owner  of Tremont 647, Sister Sorrel and bbq team leader for the UFO Social Club, named Reserve Grand ChampionChef Andy Husbands of Boston's Tremont 647 is a fan of Harpoon - his BBQ crew takes the name, UFO Social Club.

Husbands led the crew to victory in several categories. Their pulled pork shoulder was outstanding.

"We sold most of our samples by mid-day on Saturday," said Husbands.

"But I can't eat it anymore - by the time you've stayed up all night, drinking beer and tending the smoker, BBQ isn't high on the list."

Chef Husbands, pictured at right, also shared his special UFO BBQ sauce with beercook.com.


Jaime Schier, a member of "Uncle Jed" LaBonte's crew, also works at Harpoon Brewery in quality control. Schier and family at Harpoon Brewery

Schier stayed up all night with the crew, tending the pit for the brisket, which smoked for about 14 hours. Their team won several awards at the championships (Schier, pictured with his daughter, Ali, at left).

The pork ribs, pictured with a vibrant rub of paprika, cayenne and other spices, were tender and juicy. "But I really like the Chef's Choice, which is a flank steak mainrated overnight in Harpoon IPA, rice wine vinegar, ginger, cilantro and garlic - very simple, very delicious," says Schier.

"When you think about it, a flank steak really is like a mini brisket - it can take that tenderization from a long marinade."

SO much 'cue, so little time.

After eating meat nonstop, it was refreshing to sample a yeasty flatbread that was grilled by the great cooks at King Arthur's Flour and Baking Center in nearby Norwich.King Arthur Flour grilled bread!

The bread was topped with minced garlic, a fabulous olive oil imported from Spain, and a bit of grated Vermont cheddar.


In addition to his BBQ talents, Schier also taught a "baking with beer" class at the King Arthur Baking Center. But that's another story...




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