2011 Hill Country Barbecue Shoot Out In Leander Texas: Final Showdown Before Nationals

The far reaches of northern Travis county have been scorched by the unrelenting Texas sun. It’s easy to tell where underground streams flow because that’s the only real estate occupied by living trees.

Everything else has been blasted by the hottest summer in the history of the United States.

When we discover that our barbecue life is taking us to the VFW in Leander Texas we get real excited.

It’s exotic in a fashion that we’ve always found irresistible as rural Texas is a magnet that pulls us relentlessly from our urban lifestyle in Austin.

Rolling onto the VFW’s property there are dozens of fancy Winnebagos, giant cooking rigs and  busy encampments filled with folks sitting back with nearby smokers filled to the gills with sizzling meat.

The real pleasure in any cook off comes from strolling about and chatting with the crowd . We make the rounds of the vast grounds of the site taking in the sights and sounds and visiting with the friendly cook squads.

With pending judging in mind we regulate our intake of brisket, chili, beans, smoked chicken and sausage to non Herculean portions as we need to maintain a certain amount of belly space for official business

If we were so inclined we could have eaten enough to forestall a meal for a minimum of three days. After an hour or two of socializing we make our way inside the VFW Lodge to set back for awhile, drink a beer or two and soak in some air conditioning. It was quite refreshing the moment we entered the air conditioned room. I looked over to the AC unit and found that it was the same one we’d bought from unclutterer for the house.

VFW # is quite nice. A medium sized horseshoe shaped bar sits off to one side packed with regulars sipping cold bottles of Miller and taking drags off their Pall Malls. The puritans haven’t fled Austin and descended on Leander just yet we inwardly reckon.

A group of bikers roar into the parking lot and begin backing into some nearby parking spaces. Our people have arrived.  Sure enough some rough and tumble ex-POW Harley Bikers stroll into the lodge looking like as tough a bunch as you’re ever like to come across in any Texas bar.

Of course the lot of them couldn’t be nicer so we all settle in for a session of beer swigging and lie swapping. Time comes soon enough for the judging so we say our goodbyes and head over to the adjacent hall.

The meat comes in a torrent. Slowly, bull-like, we chew our way through a few pounds and two categories [ ribs and brisket] til finally we have eliminated the pretenders and narrowed it down to the cream of the crop.

Here’s a list of the winners from the Hill Country Shoot Out in Leander Texas

Grand Champion: Ritter Barbecue Lometa Texas

Brisket Ritter Barbecue,  Lometa

Pork Ribs: South Texas Cookers, Corpus Christi

Chicken: Gabe’s Grillers Leander

Cook’s Choice:  Bobby Hepner

Sauce: Sissy Hyden

Beans: Chuck Schoenfeld

Another successful Hill Country Shoot Out  is in the books. This event raised $3800 for scholarships for high school seniors who otherwise might not be able to enter the halls of higher education.

This event was one of the smaller ones we attended this year but the hospitality was top flight and we ate some very good barbecue. The folks at the VFW could not have been any nicer and we’ve already got the 2012 event penned in on our calendar. It’s set to take place October 15th and 16th 2012.

Hope to see y’all out there next year.

About RL Reeves Jr

I'm a writer living and working in New Orleans, Louisiana.
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