Talking ribs with Jack on the Bone
WANT TO GO?
15th annual Ribfest
WHERE: Across from Dow Chemical, MacCorkle Avenue, South Charleston
WHEN: 4 to 10:30 p.m. Thursday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 to 11 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday
COST: Adults $5, children 6-12 $2 (includes free carnival ride), children 5 and under free. (Food not included in price.)
INFO: 304-444-2921 or www.charlestonwvribfest.com
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The 15th annual Ribfest returns to South Charleston this weekend with a feast of smoked and barbecued delights, some good music and more. Who will be the best of the best is anyone's guess (though Carolina Rib King has won the past several years), but there will be plenty of contenders, including the Jack on the Bone International Rib Team. Gazz called up the team's Dan Amstutz talk about competitive barbecue and what makes its sauce so special.
Q: How long have you been doing this?
A: We've had the Jack Daniels Jack on the Bone ribs for about 22 years now. We got permission from Jack Daniels to say our sauce is made with Jack Daniels. We can't call it Jack Daniels sauce because there's copyright and all.
But since then, we've been to hundreds of events. We just recently left Burlington, which is just a little bit south of Toronto. We won second place best ribs in Canada. We won first last year. It's a big thing. The contest is invitation only, and it's the biggest burn off [contest] in Canada.
Q: How did you come up with the recipe for your sauce?
A: We started with an old recipe that put bourbon in the sauce. There was no name brand or anything. We took that and then said, 'Wait, let's go one step better. Let's put the best bourbon in the sauce.' Then we took it one more step and said, 'Let's spray the Jack Daniels on the product itself.'
Q: So, do you need ID to buy your ribs?
A: No. Alcohol boils at 100 degrees, and once it hits the hot food, it evaporates, but there's still that Jack Daniels flavor. It's really a minimal amount of alcohol in the spray to begin with, and with the sauce, the alcohol is cooked out, leaving the flavor. We want plenty of flavor, but the alcohol is gone.
Q: Do a lot of rib vendors do this?
A: I believe were the only ones out there. I know a lot of people use bourbon in their sauce at home, but I think we're the only ones marketing it like this.
Q: Is this a seasonal thing for you or is it year-round?
A: For us, it's just seasonal. We start a week or so before Labor Day and go through October.
You can do it all year. There's a southern tour, and you can go out west, but we just do the season and travel West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan. Canada is about as far as we go.
It's a lot of long hours and a lot of travel, but it's very rewarding. I can't think of a better place to be at the end of summer.
Reach Bill Lynch at email@example.com or 304-348-5195.