Last Days of Summer
Summer Break between seventh and eighth grade was a magical time. Driving wasn’t an option yet and girls still didn’t matter… only pick up tennis, cheeseburger subs and mountain dew big gulps did. I remember that from the crack of 11 ‘til sundown, my little cousin and I would play tennis until exhaustion, a smashed racket or lost ball forced us to quit. Then we’d ride our bikes to the town center for subs at Gianelli’s and Big Gulps from Dale’s Pharmacy. Scuttling home as the sun set I remember being washed over by total contentment; the kind only known to a 12 year-old boy. Life would never again be filled with such simple pleasures as it was on those summer days between seventh and eighth grade.
Then yesterday happened.
Evan, Julie, StannMarie and myself set out at 10am (after getting off work at 7am - eeesh) to knock out 2 more landmark BBQ joints on the NC BBQ Trail: B’s for lunch and Wilber’s for dinner. We decided to use our downtime between meals to play in the park and then embrace all that Mother Earth Brewery (Kinston) had to offer.
“You gotta get to B’s early. Once they’re out of meat, they close!” ~ Brian Butthole
Butthole was right. B’s was out of meat by 12:30 and promptly closed shop. Luckily, we arrived around 11:30 to get our fix. The parking lot was insane; it wasn’t simply overflowing, it was more like Tetris and a Russian traffic circle had a love child. Somehow the locals seemed to manage it, sometimes by hollerin’ at patrons “Who’s blockin’ me in?!”
The choices were simple; pork, chicken, sides. Nothing complicated here, just good ‘ol fashion Carolina BBQ straight from the smokehouse to your table. Their take on hushpuppies were fried cornbread sticks – a crunchy variation on a familiar meal-starter. Their vinegar based sauce had a good tang without an overly aggressive bite. We sat at a picnic table outside, next to ‘the law’, enjoying the perfect weather and the aroma wafting from the smokehouse. The sweet tea was good, however surprisingly not sweeter. We have since learned from a local that even though ribs are not on the menu, you can get them if you request to speak with ‘Tammy’. Good to know for next time.
Mother Earth Brewery
Occupying a couple giant warehouses, this fantastic brewery is putting out some amazing beer. We were able to take a tour and were blown away. MEB is ‘gold-leaf certified’ because they’re treehuggers on steroids; shredded blue jeans insulation, solar panels, repurposed flooring, etc. Their tour was free and their tap room opened at 4p. I was impressed at their diversity in selections on tap. They had about 10 on tap and many more of their brews bottled. They had their take of Pale Ale’s, IPA’s, Dunkel, Hefewizen, Oatmeal Stout, etc. Each had their own spin and was very flavorful. I took home a Tripel aged in Whisky barrels. Can’t wait to try it! Julie took home something infused with peaches. We played cornhole for a while, and then readied ourselves to make way to Wilber’s!
Hands down best BBQ this writer has ever eaten! Let’s get weird. They bring chicken-gravy with their hushpuppies. Jesus, Mary & Joseph that ish was retahhded. So good. Your shoes would taste amazing dipped in that stuff. From there, we got an assortment: Chopped pork, meatloaf, BBQ chicken, Fried Chicken, Fried Okra, Collards, Brunswick stew, more Hushpuppies, Banana Pudding and gallons of Sweet Tea. Everything was mind-blowingly amazing! We couldn’t stop eating!! We talked about puking more than a high school girl’s gymnastics team after Golden Corral. The coolest part to me about Wilber’s was the smokehouse in the back. They have a pit where they set the oak wood aflame and then dude shovels the coals into the pit in the smokehouse. He was kind enough to allow me to snap a picture and chat a minute; he’s been doing this for 45 years!! Wilber’s is the real deal and you can taste it in every bite.
In conclusion, two toasts were made that day:
“Here’s to things we’ll never remember with people we’ll never forget.” ~ Julie
“Here’s to our wives and girlfriends… may they never meet.” ~ Blair