More barbecue is a good thing, and if you're not on board with this basic fact, then you can just get out of my face. It was with this cardinal rule of life firmly in mind that I hit the road in search of a new truck on the Connecticut food scene - a truck selling barbecue and barbecue accoutrements. The fact that this particular Friday found the DrewbaQ food truck at Veracious Brewing Company in Monroe was a purely unrelated coincidence, to be sure. It would be a grave disservice to you, our beloved CTBites readership, if I did not take full advantage of this entirely unforeseen circumstance so, in humble service to your unending curiosity re: all things food and beverage, I had several beers with my BBQ. So that I might report on pairings, you see.
The DrewbaQ truck had first caught my eye at the recent Harbor Brewfest, parked on the warning track at the ballpark at Harbor Yard in Bridgeport. I'd just been to HAPA's truck, so my ongoing quest for smoked meat was temporarily foiled, but I had read the menu, so when I pulled up to the truck on Friday I knew I wanted a Porker sandwich, with pulled pork, topped with coleslaw. The sandwich was large, on a lightly toasted hamburger roll which was substantial, yeasty, and immediately reminiscent of the beloved, extinct variety from the old French's Bakery. The meat is why we're here though, yes? The pork was heavily smoked, and had an excellent, distinctively hardwood flavor, and a dark, chewy bark. The coleslaw was largely comprised of roughly shredded cabbage with a few bits of carrot here and there. It was not overly wet, a good thing on a sandwich, and added vinegar/pickle flavor, as well as a fresh, crisp crunch. This is exactly the kind of coleslaw you want on a sandwich, if that's your thing. A restrained drizzle of additional barbecue sauce, itself thin, tangy, and sweet, was laid across the whole affair. This was A Very Good Sandwich.
Barbecue without mac and cheese is a venal sin of its own, so I ordered my Porker with a side. A small cup was filled wall to wall with elbow macaroni, crusted here and there with a crispy baked breading, and held in a suspension of thick, creamy cheese, the quality of which would never permit its being spelled with a "z." The sandwich and side were $12 together, pre-tax, but the quality put this price point right about on the nose.
Drew Kaplan was there taking and filling orders as a one man show. Drew's from Monroe, and had ditched the ladies' footwear business this spring in the pursuit of something more fulfilling. The DrewbaQ truck has a full-on commercial kitchen, complete with a Southern Pride smoker he feeds mostly hickory, with some apple and other woods blended in.
I took my food and walked into the tap room at Veracious. The brewery is an offshoot of Maltose Express, which has been keeping Connecticut homebrewers supplied for a quarter century, and is located next door. Veracious opened in 2015, and was named one of the top 33 new breweries in the U.S. by Beer Advocate magazine by this January. The tap room is medium sized by Connecticut standards; wood paneling and incandescent light streaming from overhead chandeliers made it feel warm and inviting to me. Families, beer geeks, and the after work crowd all seemed to be on hand.
Veracious' seasonal Fest Oktoberfest/marzen immediately caught my attention, and I'm glad it did. The 5.7% lager was the traditional copper color under no head at all, and was absolutely delicious. Biscuity malt and a slight, residual sweetness marked it on each sip, before sliding away in a crisp finish. This was the perfect accompaniment to the smokey BBQ and heavy mac and cheese- each bite or sip preparing you for the other. Fest was also traditionally German in that it made me want to drink it by the liter instead of the paltry pint.
Next up was the Beefed Up Brisket sandwich, paired with Veracious' hop harvest ale, Wet. The brisket was sliced fairly thin, again heavily smoked, with a much thicker, sweeter, and spicier BBQ sauce than the Porker. The brisket was topped with mac and cheese instead of coleslaw, so the sandwich ($10), wasn't in desperate need of a side. The brisket was not completely broken down into shreds in its preparation, and still had some structure to the protein, which kept it together in the sandwich, but was definitely softened by readily apparent hours in the smoker. It was another winner.
The harvest ale, Wet, was made with Cascade and Zeus hops from nearby Hattertown Rd. in Monroe, and it was the only disappointment of the night. The ale had close to zero aroma, and the normally active and flavorful hop varieties had somehow turned mossy in the local soil. I can't pretend to understand how this happened, but I was expecting more from fresh hops straight off the bine. Thankfully Veracious has ten or more of their beers on tap at any time, plus cold brewed, nitrogen infused coffee, or wine for the malt-averse.
The DrewbaQ is likely to make reappearances at Veracious, but both are worth a quick trip, together or separately.
The easiest way to find food trucks is usually their social media pages, and DrewbaQ's can be found here.
Veracious Brewing Co. is located at 246 Main St. in Monroe, Conn. Their beers are also available on tap at Sal's Pizza, Vazzy's locations, or the nearby Tavern On Main. They even use their beer in house-made soaps.