All About The Q at the Horse Town Brew N’ Que Festival in Norco, California

On Saturday, May 30, 2015, 75 BBQ teams already had their pits fired up for Horse Town Brew N’ Que Festival. The pits and most of the prep had been done on Friday. At 6am on Saturday morning, most of the teams already had their pork and briskets in the smoker. The scent of smoked meats filled the air as you pulled up to George Ingalls Equestrian Event Center in Norco, CA. Most of the teams were weary eyed from tending to their smokers overnight.

All About The Q has been on the BBQ circuit for a couple years. Husband and wife team, Todd and Beverly Carpenter, always loved BBQ. They started out as KCBS-certified judges and began competing when their work schedules allowed. They do it for the art and love of BBQ. Tending a fire and getting the right temperature is a skill to master like an art from. There are so many variables like weather, humidity, the type of wood used, etc. that can make or break the meat submission. Todd built his own pit a few years ago to make the reception dinner for his son’s wedding. He’s been competing with it along with a brand new REC TEC Mini Portable Wood Pellet Grill, who is one of his sponsors. Stubbs is also one of their sponsors. They use Stubbs’ products as a base and add their own ingredients and spices to give their BBQ a unique flavor. They also travel with their mascots, Bonnie and Clyde, who are service dogs and AKC Agility competitors. They put on their performance face and were the most obedient and quietest dogs you’ve ever met. They were in a pen in front of their trailer and showed their cuteness to the public.

Around 9am, we took a stroll to check out the other arena where the competing only teams were smoking away. I had the pleasure of meeting Moe Cason (Moe Cason Barbeque and Ponderosa BBQ) and Myron Mixon (Jack’s Old South and the most winningest man in BBQ), judges on Destination America’s BBQ Pitmasters. On the show, they are serious judges, but in person, they are so nice and personable. I was so honored to meet them. I didn’t want to take too much of their time as they were competing as well. Overall, Moe ranked 49/75 (662.1600) and Myron ranked 18/75 (685.7028).

Around 10 am, you could feel the pressure as the teams started preparing their boxes. There is an art to make a box. The bottom is layered with parsley, but it needs to look like a putting green. Every team has their own way of doing it. It can’t be too high or the tops of your meats will hit the top of the box, ruining a perfectly sauced meat. Presentation is part of the scoring process. Beverly was in charge of making the boxes for the All About The Q team. Todd was busy tending the fire in his pit to keep temperature constant and also starting some of the meats that were going to be sold to the public. There were about 8-10 teams competing and selling so they had to be on their game.

At 11:45am, it was time to put the finishing touches on the Chicken entry and box it up. The judges’ tent was a 2-minute walk from All About The Q so everything had to be timed just right. When Todd came back, a little relief came over his face. The presentation box was a beauty with the sauce perfectly glazed on top. The chicken was juicy and tender. The skin was perfect without being too fatty. Smoke ring was apparent. The sauce had the perfect balance of sweet and savory with a light spicy kick on the end. OCFD Rating: 5/5; KCBS Ranking: 42/75, 166.2628

At 12:15pm, the pressure was on again as the Pork Ribs needed to be sauced and boxed. The presentation was another beauty with mahogany color and just the right amount of sauce. It had a good smoky, savory flavor with a slight bit of heat. The meat had a bit more tug than I would like, maybe a little longer on the smoker would do the trick. OCFD Rating: 4.3/5; KCBS Ranking: 49/75, 164.5372

The Woodshed had a few things to sell to the public. The teriyaki beef was tender, but the flavor was too sweet to eat on its own. It would be better on sticky rice, served with mac salad, or on top of a musubi. OCFD Rating: 3.8/5. Tri tip had a good flavor to it, but it was a tough bite and minimal smoke ring. This definitely needed to be served with a knife and fork. This would have been better chunked or sliced really thin for sampling. OCFD Rating: 3.3/5; Overall KCBS Ranking: 52/75, 654.1372

At 12:45pm, it was time to sauce and box the Pork. All About The Q presented the money muscle and some pulled pork. The pork had a nice smoke ring and had just the right amount of sauce. Too much can cover up the actual pork flavor. We tried it on top of nachos. The pork was tender and juicy with a tasty bark on the outside. Great way to spread the love atop some gooey cheese and tortilla chips. OCFD Rating: 5/5; KCBS Ranking: 74/75, 145.6568’s FreeHand Thumb Tray was the hit of the festival. It had a holder for your drink and room for your edibles. It was perfect for this festival with the brews being poured and the ‘que being served. This would also be handy for food truck festivals as well.

All About The Q served up Pork Fingers to the public. It was a sausage link wrapped in bacon and glazed with brown sugar. The brown sugar caramelized on the grill making the bacon almost candy-like. The savory and sweet combination was finger lickin’ good! OCFD Rating: 5/5

Mama n’ Dem served up roasted corn on the cobb. It was juicy but a little water logged from holding in hot water. It would have been better right off the grill. OCFD Rating: 2.8/5; Overall KCBS Ranking: 63/75, 633.6800

At 1:15pm, it was time to slice and box the brisket. The brisket was tender and had a nice smoke ring. The bark was dark and tasty. It almost had a corned beef flavor to it. OCFD Rating: 4/5; KCBS Ranking: 64/74, 154.8572

All About The Q’s Pulled Chicken was phenomenal! It was tender, juicy and had a light Italian flavor profile. It would be great on a Hawaiian roll with some creamy slaw on top. OCFD Rating: 4.3/5

Pop-O-Licious ‘n More served up Kettle Corn and Fruit Chillers. The Kettle Corn was a little light on the coating but the kernels were big and fluffy. OCFD Rating: 3.5/5. Mango Fruit Chiller was refreshing but very light on the mango flavor. The mango aroma was much stronger. OCFD Rating: 3.5/5

It’s amazing how much goes into a BBQ competition. All About The Q made us appreciate how much time and effort goes into making tasty BBQ. Overall, All About The Q came in 64/75, 631.3140. The Horse Town Brew N’ Que Festival brought an estimated 4,000 people from across the southland!

To see more photos, please visit OC Food Diva's Facebook page.

For more information:
George Ingalls Equestrian Event Center
3737 Crestview Dr
Norco, CA 92860