One of my favorite pastimes is the beerbeque- the age old tradition of drinking and eating copiously, a celebration of pork and hops and everything that is right in the world. I celebrated my 21st birthday in Baltimore with a beerbeque and every year since we’ve thrown a big party every fall, spreading the gospel of barbeque and homebrew.
This year was no exception, but as the day of the party crept up we made one slight adjustment to the menu- instead of the traditional pork shoulder that we’ve smoked in Eastern North Carolina style each year we decided to make it a true beerbeque by brining the pork in a local craft beer.
We picked up a growler of Scotch Ale made by Good Hops Brewing of Carolina Beach, a beer with a rich and smokey flavor, and brined the pork shoulder overnight. The next morning we fired up our (new!) smoker and smoked the shoulder for 5 hours with a combination of hickory and pecan, basting it regularly with apple cider vinegar, red pepper flakes, and salt.
I’m partial to the Eastern North Carolina style myself, and I was wary of straying too far from the traditional. This, however, was a lovely compromise. The finished pulled pork boasted subtle echoes of the ale, mixing with the smokey hickory and pecan, the tangy vinegar, and the spice of the red pepper. It was all we could do to pull the pork before gobbling it up, which is the telltale sign of a successful beerbeque.
This post is brought to you in partnership with the North Carolina Pork Council.
5-6lb pork shoulder
1/2 gallon Scotch ale (or similar dark style beer)
1/2 cup salt
2 cups apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp red pepper flakes
1 tbsp salt
Hickory & pecan wood chips
The night before you mean to smoke the pork combine it with the Scotch ale and 1/2 cup salt. Brine, refrigerated and covered, overnight.
Pork shoulders must smoke for 1 1/2 hours per pound and need 1 hour to rest in between cooking and pulling. Calculate your start time accordingly!
Fire up your smoker. Remove pork from brine and top with 1 cup of apple cider vinegar, 1 tbsp red pepper flakes, and 1/2 tbsp salt. Transfer to smoker, fat side up, and start the clock!
Smoke at a temperature of 175F-200F until the internal temperature of the pork has reached 155F. Baste every 30 minutes with the remaining vinegar and spices. Halfway into your cook time flip the pork.
When the pork has finished cooking remove it from the smoker and let rest for 1 hour. Using forks, your hands, or claws meant specifically for pulling pork, shred the pork and serve hot.