Beer. Barbecue sauce. Brown sugar. That’s all you need for this recipe (well, other than meat, a smoker, and a few free hours). Just pick out a beer you love and a barbecue sauce you love and get to work. We used a fantastic beer from the great Surly Brewing Co. in Minneapolis, MN. It’s one of their genre-bending beers called the Coffee Bender, and we thought the flavors would go great with the barbecue sauce we chose. Of course, you should feel free to substitute any brown ale or other dark beer that suits your tastes — though we recommend one with coffee.

The most important thing to remember when smoking meat: Don’t open the smoker while you cook (unless instructed in the recipe). A newbie will innocently open the smoker every 10 minutes “just to look,” allowing precious and exact-temperature air out of the vessel. The seasoned veteran, however, will open the smoker only when necessary. The constant temperature of a smoker is incredibly important for meaty perfection, so do your best to be patient and to keep other people away from your smoker. Since our recipe has you opening the smoker a couple different times, it is pretty important that you aren’t opening it any more than is absolutely necessary.

Also, notice that the barbecue sauce and beer is done at a 2:1 ratio. That makes this a really easy recipe to scale up or down depending on how much sauce you want on your final product.


Beer, Barbecue Sauce and Brown Sugar Ribs
2 slabs baby-back ribs
Your favorite barbecue rub
Kosher salt and freshly-cracked black pepper
1 cup your favorite barbecue sauce
½ cup beer
Approx. ½ cup brown sugar

Rub your ribs with mustard, your favorite barbecue rub, salt and pepper. Add the ribs to a freezer bag(s) and allow them to sit in the fridge overnight.

About an hour before you plan to cook, pull the ribs out of the fridge. Prepare your smoker using whatever wood you like (we prefer hickory) and bring it to 250ºF.


Add the ribs to the grill and let them cook for 2 hours. While they’re cooking combine the barbecue sauce and the beer in a saucepan over low heat. When it reaches a simmer, remove saucepan from the heat.


Place the ribs in tin foil “boats” and slather them with the beer and barbecue sauce mixture. Fully enclose the ribs with the tin foil and allow them to cook for 1 hour and 30 minutes, then open the tin foil so the top of the ribs are exposed. Use a brush to baste the ribs with the sauce mixture. Sprinkle the ribs with a light coating of brown sugar and close the lid (leaving the foil “boats” open). Allow the ribs to cook for 30 more minutes and then repeat the process of basting and dusting with sugar and allow to cook for a final 30 minutes (the ribs should cook for a total of 4 hours and 30 minutes).


Remove the ribs from the smoker and let them cool for 15 minutes. Slice and serve.