Big Shanty Smokehouse is a little place that's actually right down the street from where I live. I've been a couple times so I decided it was about time to make an official Georgia Barbecue Hunt visit. First off, I love their location. It's in an old, converted small house off the side of the road with limited seating but great personality. They've recently added outdoor air conditioned seating as well which was nice. Big Shanty Smokehouse is a business that's family owned and operated. There hasn't been a time that I've been there that I haven't seen the whole family working behind the counter. That's something I have great respect for and love seeing. The Dillards (originally from Virginia) take their BBQ seriously. I was assured that all of their meat spends time in the hickory fed smokers out back. More often than not brisket and sausage is something that's not on most Georgia BBQ restaurants. Big Shanty features both. Their menu is fairly simple so I decided to go with "Steve's Sampler" for $15.95. This included pork spare ribs, homemade sausage, pulled pork, brisket, and two sides. I elected for the usual baked beans and coleslaw to accompany my meat feast.
By now it's pretty easy to tell when your BBQ comes out if it's actually been in a proper smoker or not. All of this meat had the tell-tale signs: the smoke rings, the smell, the nice bark. I started off with the spare ribs. They were a little tough and hard to pull off the bone, good flavor but not as tender as they should've been. A little bit longer in the smoker and these would've been killer. On to the pulled pork. The pork was a little dry. Again, it had a good flavor, not as strong as the ribs but good nonetheless. I believe Big Shanty puts some kind of light vinegar sauce on the meat after it's pulled, but in this case it was just too dry. They offer two BBQ sauces here. The first is a vinegar sauce which honestly isn't too bad even though I tend to stay away from too much vinegar on my BBQ. The second is a tomato based sauce. This sauce is great. It's tangy with a little bit of kick. I gladly dipped my dry pork into this wonderful concoction. The next meat on the platter was the brisket. I could already tell this was going to be dry as well. It had a great bark and smoke ring followed by good smoky flavor, but it was definitely on the dry side. There was no moisture or fat in the meat. This could be due to a lean piece of meat or just not cooked properly. It immediately received a dunk in the sauce which instantly alleviated the dryness. The last meat left standing was the homemade sausage. This wasn't your typical barbecue sausage that you'd see out in Texas. It reminded me more of a brat I'd eat tailgating before a baseball game. The spicy flavor confirmed my initial assumption. I'm not sure if it had anything to do with the casing or not, but the smoky flavor that was so evident in the rest of the meats was non existent here. I appreciated their attempt to offer homemade sausage but it was definitely a little disappointing.
On to the sides...
The coleslaw I ordered was mayonnaise based and did not disappoint. I enjoyed it paired with the smoky meats. The homemade beans consisted of kidney, black, and navy beans. The beans also spend some time in the smoker although the flavor was very faint. They were a little runny for my liking, but I was still happy that they decided to go the homemade route on these as well.
All in all Big Shanty Smokehouse definitely puts good effort into their food and is focused on trying to do it the right way. The cooking temperatures and times on the meats could use some tweaking but over time I believe they could become one of the better BBQ joints in Georgia. If you're ever passing by, stop in and let me know what you think.