The Barbecue Bros’ 2023 Holiday Gift Guide

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.

Stocking Stuffers

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.

Happy Shopping!

Tales from the Pits has a lot to be thankful for in 2023

Non-Spotify podcast link

Monk: I’m posting this a little late for the Thanksgiving holiday but I think its still worth sharing. The Tales from the Pits guys, Andrew and Bryan, share the trends in barbecue that they are thankful for including brick and mortar locations (particularly in the hot Texas summers), barbecue joints expanding into sports arenas, dinner barbecue, and more.

I’m always inspired by the passion for barbecue these guys have, so take a listen and see if you agree with their choices.

Description: There is a lot we’re thankful for right now in barbecue. From the craft pioneers who began expanding the boundaries of what barbecue could be to the new class who keeps pushing the cuisine forward while being mindful of its roots, it’s an amazing time in barbecue filled with immense talent. 

Linkdown: 11/28/23 – The Brisket Makes Everything Better Edition


Monk: Team applications for Memphis in May are officially open for next year’s festival which will take place in Liberty Park

This of course is after a new, upstart festival has been announced to be held at (plot twist) Tom Lee Park, where Memphis in May had traditionally been held. Forward Momentum are the organizers behind the rival festival which will be held at the same time as Memphis in May, and Carey Bringle of Peg Leg Porkers is on board to compete, even going so far as to say “BBQ in Memphis belongs on the river, and with Forward Momentum, we now have the means and resources to make it happen.”

This has led to the picking of festivals between the big competition teams and so far it looks like Memphis in May is ahead early by my unofficial count with Jack’s Old South and Moe Cason are on board so far as well as The Usual Saucepects Championship BBQ, Heath Riles BBQ, and former 2x Grand Champions Willingham’s World Championship BBQ,

As for me? If I make either festival it will surely be Memphis in May at Liberty Park.

Finally, in perhaps somewhat related news, the CEO of Memphis in May is retiring at the end of January.

Native News

Congrats to Raleigh’s The Pit, which will celebrate 15 years open this weekend

Phar Mill Brewing and BBQ’s downtown Concord location is now closed to the public and they will focus on the original Harrisburg location going forward

Can’t wait to see this new Jon G’s design on a t-shirt

FoodieScore checks back in with Johnny Ray’s Smokehouse in Fallston

A free gift with purchase from Concord’s SnS Grills

Speaking of gifts, this shirt from House of Swank is a little too reductive terms of barbecue ideology, but I appreciate it nonetheless

Non-Native News

FatStack Smokers, who relocated from California to Texas and has been accused of taking customers’ money without providing actual smokers, has closed up shop

Speaking of Houston, here’s J.C. Reid’s top 30 barbecue restaurants list for the city

One more from J.C. Reid on how brisket makes a Philly cheesesteak even better

Big Dave’s BBQ makes this Eater Essentials list for Greenville, SC

A review of a new type of grill brush

Talk about a #woodpilewednesday

Cozy Corner is one of Memphis’s most popular barbecue restaurants

Monk: Owner Bobby Bradley, Jr. of Cozy Corner in Memphis is carrying on the traditions of his family’s barbecue legacy to this day, including the BBQ bologna sandwich.

Description: Cozy Corner is one of Memphis’s most popular barbecue restaurants, opening in 1977. Owner Bobby Bradley, Jr. is carrying on his family’s traditions by making the restaurant’s popular ribs, bologna sandwiches, and barbecue spaghetti.