Meat, I wanted meat…and alcohol. It had been a very long stressful week. Most of my meals had been vegetarian or veg with token pieces of chicken or seafood. Don’t get me wrong, I like going vegetarian but after a while I need meat, particularly when stressed. So when my coworker suggested dinner out on a Friday night I had two requirements: alcohol and meat; chicken, fish, seafood, or hamburger need not apply, only chunks of meat carved from a large animal.
Luckily my coworker enjoys meat and drink as well. We spent quite a bit of time trying to think of a place that would fit the bill but not let us overspend or over eat. At least Brew BQ is fairly inexpensive.
Brew BQ is a hole in the wall place next to Flattail Brewery. It’s easy to miss if you’re not looking for it. I’m not sure how to describe the decor, but I’ll go with upscale Southern shack or maybe upscale redneck shack. Lampshades and chandeliers are from pint beer glasses (with various logos) and 22 oz. bottles. There’s an image of the “mud flap girl” made of bottle caps on one wall and across from her there is a matching image of a truck driver (complete with belly and cap) in the same pose.
Tables, benches, and chairs are wood planks and 2x4s stained with a high gloss and more comfortable than they look. The walls are painted in dark red tones and with the dark wood stain make the interior quite dim. This isn’t to hide anything as it is always clean and shiny.
Brew BQ is predominately self-serve. You order at the counter from the large and overwhelming chalkboard menu. Both times I’ve been here I’ve immediately been enthusiastically greeted by the counter person. The first question is if I’ve been there and did I need help reading or navigating the menu. My coworker and I had both been there once before but it didn’t help in narrowing down the choices. In each instance the cashier has been very helpful in making suggestions and narrowing down choices. When you pay for your order they take your name and you are called to the counter when it’s ready.
That’s the extent of their service. You fetch your own food, sauce, and soda and bus your own table. Wipes, silverware, and foil for leftovers are out at the counter as well. Still, everyone is bright, chatty, and helpful.
It’s incredibly difficult for me to make a decision here. I mean, I know I’m not going to order the stew or tofu (yep, vegetarian options available!). Brew BQ offers spare ribs, brisket, pork butt, and chicken as well as turkey and salmon options. That’s just the meat, and then there are the sides: French fries (called curly tails), hush puppies, 5 bean bake, scalloped sweet potatoes, slaw, creamed corn, braised greens with mushrooms, and salad. You can also order a sandwich made from any of the meats. You can order al acarte or as a combo. And if that’s not enough, they have daily specials as well. The orgy of choice extends to your drink options: soda, ice tea (sweet or plain), lemonade, beer, hard cider, and ten different bourbons. You can also eat in or take it to go. I’m glad nobody was in line behind me when I was trying to order!
If you’re not sure what to order, I recommend the Pit Boss combo. Two-bone spare ribs, ¼ pound brisket, two pieces chicken, five bean bake, and slaw. My first trip my friend and I both ordered this and then shared a side of pork butt. Everything was tender and easily pulled apart. The ribs and chicken are my favorite, tender, juicy, flavorful and far less greasy than expected (although you’ll still go through a pile of napkins). The brisket and pork butt was good and flavorful but a little dry as those cuts tend to be.
In the name of science and learning I tried all six sauces with all four meats. Life is an adventure after all. I enjoyed all the sauces but like the sweet, complex but not too thick #1, Sweet N’ Sticky with the chicken and ribs. The brisket and pork butt was enjoyable with the #5, House Hot Vinegar. I didn’t find it hot and the light vinegar sauce added the needed moisture.
The meat here is the obvious star, but even if it wasn’t I would come for the beans. I’m not someone who grew up with or normally thinks of making beans but I would drive quite a ways just to have Brew BQ’s 5 Bean Bake. The menu describes them as “generous amounts of pork braised into our 5 bean combo and seasoned for a little kick.” They certainly have kick, but they aren’t really hot. I can identify kidney, garbanzo, pinto, black beans, and perhaps green beans, tomatoes, onions and of course tasty bits of pork. I’m sure they cooked with vinegar and it’s possible they used sauce #5 but that’s about all I can say about the best baked beans ever. The rest of the sides I’ve tried tend to the mediocre, not bad but certainly not great.
They have a wide selection of beer and I was happy to see hard cider but what I really wanted was liquor. You can add bourbon to any of their nonalcoholic drinks for $.50. Seriously, $.50. I almost jumped up and down. I ordered a hard Arnold Palmer (half lemonade and half ice tea) and the cashier was a great help in choosing bourbon to add. I hadn’t heard of most of them but based on what I knew I didn’t like and why, she was able to help me pick a bourbon I would like. The result was one of the best cocktails I’ve ever had, not to sweet and no one flavor overwhelmed the others.
As a bonus the meat, beer, and some of the vegetables are sourced locally.
So when you need some meat, give Brew BQ a try. They know what they’re doing down there.
150 SW Madison Street, Corvallis, Oregon
I stopped in before posting this and discovered that they also have a happy hour menu. From 2-5 pm a variety of items (some not on the normal menu) are available for ridiculously low prices. The food photo is of happy hour items. Pork slider and curly tails for $4. Beers are on special as well. It’s usually pretty quite that time of day so you can make a mess of yourself in piece.