Dark Horse Brewing Smoke Off 2021 celebrates the end of summer with delicious barbeque, beer, and music in their beer garden.
Smoke Off 2021
Sunshine and 80 degrees, now this is barbeque weather. We decided that ribs and beer at Dark Horse Brewing sounded like the perfect way to enjoy a Saturday afternoon, so we headed out to Marshall for Smoke Off 2021 day one. I mention day one as this is a two-day event with Sunday showcasing briskets. Choices must be made and this gorgeous Saturday wins.
The parking lot was full and there was a sizable line when we arrived. Smoke Off 2021 is the first major event at Dark Horse since the pandemic and their reignition thanks to Roak Brewing. The entry fee of can donations or cash benefits Marshall Area Community Services (MACS). Typically, the Smoke Off was a spring event. But with the pandemic, things change.
I suppose this wasn’t technically the first event at Dark Horse since the pandemic. There was the 4-20 Rain in Blood Orange pale ale release featuring the thrashing goodness of Plague Years. That show was fantastic. Yet, Michigan weather being Michigan weather, it was also 30 degrees and snowing. Not the ideal conditions to fill up the beer garden.
Regardless, today is bright and we are geeked to see our friends and family at Dark Horse. It is great to see a big gathering at Dark Horse. We’ve missed this just as we’ve missed so many events since the pandemic. If nothing else, the pandemic has filled us with gratitude.
Dark Horse Family
On our way to beers, we ran into our Dark Horse family. You can’t deny that things have changed at the Dark Horse pub. It’s like when you move to a new neighborhood. You need some time for the new to become familiar. The welcoming vibe and great beer and food remain at Dark Horse. Thankfully, there was plenty of our Dark Horse family in attendance. It was great to be able to say hello and share a beer.
Lions Oh My!
We saw some activity in the old bike shop and poked our heads in for a look-see. Emily was busy coordinating the celebrity judging. You see, there are Lions about. Six former Lions were on hand to judge the ribs contest. I have to be honest that I didn’t recognize them without their jersey numbers. Nonetheless, it was exciting to be around these former players. They were definitely taking their jobs seriously as there was plenty of note taking and discussion at the tables.
Did Someone Say Ribs?
First off, we’ve become flexitarians. We consider bacon to be a vegetable. The first day of Smoke Off 2021 is all about ribs. Using the logic that bacon is a veggie, it stands that ribs are too. Therefore, we shall partake in this noble bastion of barbeque.
Barbeque smokers line the perimeter of the parking lot from the beer garden gate to the front of what used to be the bike shop. We ran into Brett who said that the best ribs were at table #5. Thankfully, he pointed the way as it was not clear which table was #5.
We picked up a rib from table #5 and some sides at the table next door. We toured each of the competitors and sampled a bunch of ribs and sides. You might not think that 5 ribs and 5 sides would fill you up and you’d be wrong. We were stuffed. I didn’t envy the Lions players having to make a tough call on best ribs.
Our unofficial winner was table #5. They sold out early, so I think many others agreed with us. The best side was clearly the table next to #5 which I’ll call table #6. Their beans and salads were extraordinary.
Unofficial runners-up were the guys in front of the old bike shop, the young ladies near table #5, and the Dark Horse smoker team. The Dark Horse smoker gets bonus points for offering their smoke sausage as a side. After all, what better side for meat than more meat.
Saying Hey to Go Dad
While running around getting pictures of the rib competitors, I ran into Go Dad. You may remember Go Dad from our fun at the Dark Horse 4 Elf parties. He had a major health event in 2018. We were relieved to see him back behind the wheel of his taxi van at the 2019 4 Elf party. I’m happy to report that Go Dad is doing well.
The Four Horsemen – The Unholy Gathering of Ogma and Dark Horse
A special feature of Smoke Off 2021 is the release of the Dark Horse and Ogma Brewing collaboration beer called Four Horsemen. This monster imperial stout was created by the four horsemen: Troy, Justin, Noonie, and Carlos. I’m not sure who is Pestilence, War, Famine, and Death. While they are all nice guys, they have brewed an apocalyptic beer. This beer is burly with dark sweet notes of imminent unconscious-ness.
The Ogma guys were on hand and are getting very close to opening their brewery in Jackson. The beers are being brewed, so it shouldn’t be long now. They’ve come quite a way since the Kickstarter in 2019. If you want to hear a fun story, hit me up on how I won the bid for mug club mug number 001. Brenda nearly fell down when I told her.
Peril Hot Sauce
The Peril Hot Sauce guys were on hand with their deliciously dangerous sauces including new wings and pizza zinger. I’ve got quite a collection of their sauces and they rule. So does Dave’s Mortician shirt.
It wouldn’t be a party at Dark Horse Brewing without music. We missed a couple of acts but did catch Shand Band and The Mike Boyd Group. Shand Band was playing at the smaller stage in the front of the beer garden. He played some great solo acoustic classic rock tunes with earnest and appealing vocals.
The Mike Boyd Group were out on the backstage in the beer garden. They were all about the blues. They jammed some tasty classic blues numbers which as we all know go great with beer and ribs.
There are more photos from the Dark Horse Brewing Smoke Off 2021 in our gallery. Take a peek. Give us a shout if you were at this gig. Let us know which ribs you liked best. Did you dig the new Four Horsemen brew?
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