I have lived in a town within easy driving distance of Oklahoma Joe’s BBQ in Kansas City for longer than I care to say. Occasional reports would filter back of a magical gas-station meat cookery, the products of which could help a lame man to walk or a blind man to see. A certain cantankerous New York food guru named it number 12 on his list of 13 places to eat before you die, a to-do list a plebeian like me could never hope to complete. While entertaining a party of out-of-town visitors recently, I found myself obliging in their request to visit this establishment, and I was not disappointed. Until I saw the beer list.
First, a confession: I never really understood the religious fanaticism with which some people approach barbecue. This is not to say I don’t appreciate good barbecue–I do. I can often be found, giddy with glee, at the intersection of meat and fire. However, the idea of seeking out one particular Mecca for such a diverse culinary genre seemed like a charming eccentricity.
I was wrong. Oklahoma Joe’s is good. Really good. Really. Good. It is not just good Kansas City barbecue (and in fact, does not display many of the hallmarks of that particular style), it transcends style to throw a party in the taster’s tummy.
All of this made the crushing blow of their beer list, a murderer’s row of lagers, pilsners, and wheat beers, that much crueler. After the perfect blend of spice, smoke, meat, and sauce, a wheat beer, even if it’s a Boulevard Wheat, isn’t going to cut it. I could feel the absence of hop tang like the tingle of a phantom limb. Is this unreasonable? Should I just have been thankful for the palate-cleanser? Or instead, should we stand up as one and demand Oklahoma Joe’s show some self-respect and start carrying Boulevard Single-Wide at the very least?