Pitmasters Sam Jones and Rodney Scott were at Sunday’s second annual Charleston Brown Water Society’s Summer Invitational BBQ, but they weren’t working the pits. No, they both drove multiple hours from their respective homes just to eat and visit. That’s how good the barbecue was.

Teams from Illinois’ 17th Street Barbecue, Tennessee’s Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint, and Charleston’s own Home Team BBQ stayed up all night Saturday smoking meat and fighting mosquitos at the Holy City Brewing compound on Dorchester Road. They offered up their labors to more than 300 guests (including Jones and Scott) who lined up the next day in the hot afternoon sun to check in.

But this wouldn’t have been be a CBWS gathering without some brown water, and it was a’flowin, both from multiple booths throughout the event, as well as inside the VIP tent, which not only hosted Alba Huerta, guest bartender extraordinaire from Houston, but also included a wide selection of brown liquor on the bar for those who liked to keep it simple. Holy City joined the party, of course, with two beers of its own, and soon smoked meat and swigs began to take precedence over the heat as live music set the mood.

If you’ve ever been around people eating good barbecue, there is a lot of groaning, closing of eyes, pointing, and the like. True ‘cue devotees even look heavenward as they chew that first bite. This was all happening. The Mills family from 17th Street made super-sauced ribs, Home Team BBQ graced us with melt-in-your-mouth brisket, sausage, and their smoked wings, and Pat Martin kept to his old-school style and served a pulled pork sandwich with a hefty bite of spice cooled by coleslaw on top, of course.

Crowd favorites were a Weaver Family Whey bourbon slushy followed by Aya Cookhouse’s Honey Bourbon Salted Caramel ice cream (commence more eyes closing), which of course, needed to be chased with a little more bourbon. CBWS proved once again that they can throw a party, and this one felt more coordinated than last year’s inaugural effort, which allowed us all to relax and stand in line for another helping of ‘cue. 

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