Monk: In this year’s revamped Gift Guide, we’re going for more curation and less bullet listing. Hopefully this will give you a sense of the items we truly recommend here at Barbecue Bros, whether it be t-shirts or hats, grill accessories you’ll use in the backyard, or rubs and sauces. What else have we missed? Comment below.
Charlotte-Area Barbecue Gifts
SnS Grills is a Concord-based company and not only has their own, critically acclaimed kettle and kamado smokers, they’ve also got a selection of Weber-specific charcoal baskets, drip pans, and grilling tools. Sweet Lew’s BBQ has a solid selection of hats as well as shirts, sauces, and rubs available online; similarly as does Midwood Smokehouse. Jon G’s BBQ doesn’t have merch available online (only available in person at the store), but they do sell gift cards on their website.
North Carolina Barbecue Gifts
Besides their tasty barbecue, Buxton Hall was the first North Carolina restaurant I thought of when it came to merch. But that doesn’t mean that there’s not plenty of other good options from across North Carolina. Sam Jones BBQ recently released a great Marlboro inspired “Pack of Sam” tee as well as a festive “BBQ Vacay” hat. Durham’s Lawrence BBQ has some great merch including a “Swinehurst” hat and an acid-washed hoodie. You can get hats and shirts from Stamey’s but also bottles of their dip and hot sauce. And Raleigh’s House of Swank has the always controversial “Tomato” vs “Vinegar” t-shirt. I’ve been using Carolina Brewery’s Carolina Dry Rub almost exclusively the past year and their Eastern Carolina Style BBQ Sauce is also pretty legit.
You can also get cookbooks from North Carolina authors like Sam Jones’ autographed cookbook, Matthew Register’s “Southern Smoke” cookbook, Elliott Moss’s cookbook under the Buxton Hall Barbecue name, and the 2023 release of Ed and Ryan Mitchell’s cookbook.
My favorite barbecue books ever are as follows (in no particular order): Holy Smoke: The Big Book of North Carolina BBQ by John Shelton Reed and Dale Volberg Reed, Barbecue Crossroads: Notes and Recipes from a Southern Odyssey by Robb Walsh, The One True Barbecue: Fire, Smoke, and the Pitmasters Who Smoke Whole Hog by Rien Fertel, Black Smoke: African Americas and the United States of Barbecue by Adrian Miller, and my most recent addition the list Smokestack Lighting: Adventures in the Heart of Barbecue Country by Lolis Eric Elie.
Honorable mention goes to Prophets of Smoked Meat: A Journey Through Texas Barbecue by Daniel Vaughn, Robert Moss’ Barbecue: The History of an American Institution, Smokelore: A Short History of Barbecue in America by Jim Auchmutey, Wyatt McSpadden’s two Texas BBQ books with wonderful photography, and of course Aaron Franklin’s Franklin Barbecue: A Meat Smoking Manifesto.
Fox Bros always has great designs for the shirts and hats, and have been leaning into the Grateful Dead-themed merch lately. Barbecue Wife has long sold out of t-shirts but have new patch snapback hats in. Rodney Scott’s mantra is “Every day is a good day” and you can own a t-shirt saying exactly that. There are still dark grey shirts available for Bryan Furman BBQ as well.
Grilling Tools and Accessories
No backyard cook (or even a regular indoor one) should cook without an instant thermometer and for that, my pick is the Thermapen One. You’ll also likely need grill and meat temperature thermometers, and Thermapen has a version as does Inkbird, who created the world’s first 5G thermometer. As of this writing, the Looft Air Lighter X cordless version is half off. Grill Armor heat gloves are a good option to keep your hands away from heat sources. Mrs. Monk got me this Drip EZ BBQ Prep Tub a few years back and its ingenious design collapses from a prep tub to a cutting board in seconds. Hardcore Carnivore always has good stuff, whether its butcher paper, high heat gloves, or various knives. Meat Church is another great source and also has an assortment of rubs, injections, t-shirts, and hats but also a nice Hedley & Bennett apron.
Are your kids sick of stopping for barbecue? Maybe this kids adventure journal from Barbecue Wife will help your cause. Cheshire Pork has a bacon ketchup, bacon jam (both regular and jalapeno), and various jerky available at their “pantry”. Weathersbeef has their “Bird,” “Beef,” and “Pork” rubs available online as well as some good looking Imperial “Beef” hats. Are you interested in a white sauce for your poultry? You could do a lot worse than Rodney Scott’s bottled version.