Que Review – Beef Brisket at Smokey Bones in Roanoke, Virginia

BBQ Reviewed: Smoked Beef Brisket
Establishment: Smokey Bones
Location: Roanoke, Virginia
Visit Date: 03/23/2019

Beef brisket at Smokey Bones in Roanoke, Virginia

The beef brisket at Smokey Bones was disappointing. The meat was tender and moist, but it lacked flavor. The rub that had been applied to the brisket was bland and soggy.

Most importantly, there was little to no smoke flavor on the brisket. The lack of any perceptible smoke flavor was somewhat surprising for a place with “smoke” in the name. The only real flavor came from the KC style BBQ sauce that had been spread on top of the brisket.

If this brisket had been served along with gravy and mashed potatoes at a Cracker Barrel, you could have easily convinced me it was just roast beef out of an oven and not smoked brisket.

I’m actually very curious to know how Smokey Bones smokes their brisket. Outside the restaurant, there was no sign of smoke in the air. To me, this is bizarre. Even outside most steakhouses you can smell the steaks being grilled inside from quite a distance away. It’s strange how they are are smoking brisket, wings and pulled pork every day without a hint of smoke outside the restaurant.

If we ever find ourselves at a Smokey Bones again, I will skip the brisket and try the smoked wings. I’ve heard from several different people that their wings are fantastic.

Read our full review of our visit to Smokey Bones in Roanoke, Virginia.

BBQ Joint Review: Smokey Bones – Roanoke, VA

Establishment: Smokey Bones
Location: Roanoke, Virginia
Visit Date: 03/23/2019

We were recently in Roanoke, Virginia for my daughter’s travel volleyball tournament. The Team Mom made reservations for the entire team and parents at Smokey Bones which was in walking distance from our hotel. I had never heard of Smokey Bones before, but I was excited to have our first BBQ restaurant to review on BBQYeti.com.

Background of Smokey Bones

Since I have never heard of Smokey Bones, I did a little research prior to our visit. The first thing I learned is that Smokey Bones is actually a chain of restaurants in the Eastern US. The first Smokey Bones opened in Orlando, Florida in 1999. According to Wikipedia, the Smokey Bones chain currently had 66 locations in the US.

It was good to know going in the Smokey Bones was a chain and not a local Roanoke BBQ joint. I set my expectations accordingly.

The food at Smokey Bones

My Smokey Bones beef brisket meal on March 23rd, 2019 in Roanoke, VA.

I ordered the BBQ beef brisket and selected steamed broccoli and coleslaw as my sides. The meal also came with a piece of toasted garlic bread.

When my plate came out, I immediately noticed how empty it looked. The amount of brisket was fair for the price, but I definitely could used more broccoli to fill out the plate (and my appetite).

The sides were good enough. It’s really difficult to mess up steamed broccoli. The slaw wasn’t the best I’ve ever had, but it was perfectly acceptable. Slaw is such a subjective side. I think every person has a different opinion on what makes the perfect coleslaw, so I won’t dwell on it in a review unless I find it absolutely repulsive. The garlic Texas toast was generic. It’s the same product you will find in any grocer’s freezer case.

So how was the brisket? Disappointing. It was definitely tender and moist, but it was simply missing flavor. Whatever rub had been applied did little to add flavor to the end product. There was little to no smoke flavor on the brisket which was kind of startling for a place with “smoke” in the name. The only real perceptible flavor came from the KC style BBQ sauce that was slathered on top. If this brisket meat had been served with gravy and mashed potatoes at a Cracker Barrel, you could have easily convinced me it was just sliced roast beef and not smoked brisket.

I did hear from some of the other volleyball parents that we dined with that the smoked chicken wings were quite good. If we ever find ourselves at a Smokey Bones again, I will definitely give the wings a try.

The drinks at Smokey Bones

Bourbon is right on the sign out front.

The sign outside of Smokey Bones advertises “Ribs. Quality Meats. Bourbon.” How could I not try some bourbon?

The restaurant has a full bar and an extensive drink menu. There is a whole section of the drink menu dedicated to bourbon. Several different bourbon flights are available.

I chose the Kentucky Bourbon Flight. Bourbon flights come served in four tiny Mason jar style glasses. The Kentucky flight includes selections from Angel’s Envy, Makers 46, Evan Williams and Woodford Reserve. The Angel’s Envy was the standout of the bunch. It was smooth and sweet. At the other end of the taste spectrum was the Evan Williams selection. It just tasted like cheap, harsh booze. Not good.

Kentucky bourbon flight at Smokey Bones in Roanoke, Virginia.

My wife prefers the sweeter, fruity drinks. She chose the Sweet Bourbon Peach Tea. Sweet Bourbon Peach Tea is Maker’s Mark or Buffalo Trace Bourbon + Aperol Liqueur + peach purée + hand squeezed lemon juice + house brewed sweet tea and topped with a peach skewer and fresh rosemary. She told me she really enjoyed her drink. I tasted it myself, but it was just too sweet for me.

Sweet Bourbon Peach Tea at Smokey Bones in Roanoke, Virginia.

The service at Smokey Bones

We showed up as a large party of about 25. Our reservations had been made in advance for 5PM. Two sets of tables had been pushed together to accommodate our group. One set of tables was for the team and the other set was for the parents. We were all seated promptly upon our arrival.

The food preparation took a acceptable amount of time for a group our size. Food was served to the team’s table first and then the parent’s table a few minutes later. I thought that service tactic was a good idea. It allowed everyone at each table to eat together at the same time. Nothing is more annoying than being the only one at your table without your meal.

The wait staff was friendly and attentive. They never let my soft drink run out. It was impressive how they were able to provide such great service to our large party.

Another group at our hotel said that their service was much slower. However, their reservation wasn’t until 6PM which I think put them right into the dinner rush. My pro-tip would be to make your reservations for 5PM (or earlier) if you are expecting Smokey Bones to accommodate a large group.

Summary of our visit to Smokey Bones in Roanoke, Virginia

The food at Smokey Bones in Roanoke, Virginia was just okay. Nothing I had was ostensibly bad, it was all just unremarkable. Smokey Bones has a large drink selection and the bar service was very good.

I was impressed with the overall service and the way that the staff accommodated our large party. If you have a large party, you should book in advance and plan to eat earlier to avoid dinner crowds.

Based on the service we received, I would at least try a Smokey Bones again if the opportunity arises. However, I’ll definitely avoid the beef brisket and try another BBQ entree to see if they can redeem themselves.

The Good Hurt Fuego Whiskey Habanero Hot Sauce Review

The Good Hurt Fuego Whiskey Habanero sauce.

The Good Hurt Fuego’s Whiskey Habanero Hot Sauce is one of seven sauces that I received in the The Good Hurt Fuego Sampler Gift pack.

Flavor of The Good Hurt Fuego’s Whiskey Habanero Hot Sauce

This sauce has a great flavor. The heat is not overpowering, but definitely noticeable. This sauce is definitely great on thing like eggs. I added it to a California omelet and it was fantastic. I’ve noticed that these Fuego sauce have a bit of tanginess to them. This is especially noticeable in the Whiskey Habanero sauce. The whiskey part of the flavor is extremely subtle. If it didn’t have “whiskey” on the label I would have never guessed there was supposed to be a whiskey flavor.

California omelet with The Good Hurt Fuego Mango Habanero sauce.

Presentation of The Good Hurt Fuego’s Whiskey Habanero Hot Sauce

A big part of hot sauce marketing is in the presentation. Creating innovative packaging and an eye-catching label helps your sauce stand out on the crowded store shelves.

The Good Hurt Fuego absolutely killed it when it came to the design and packaging of their sauce sampler pack. The gift pack comes bundled like a pack of TNT. Very clever. Inside each stick of TNT, the bottle label is plain white with black lettering. It is very reminiscent of the old “generic brand” labeling though you saw in grocery stores in the 80’s. Younger folks may recognize it as similar to the Dharma style packaging in ABC’s lost.

A lot of creativity went into the packaging of The Good Hurt Fuego sampler gift pack.

Brew Review: Sour Monkey by Victory Brewing Company

This was my first ever sour ale. It’s not bad, but really doesn’t taste like beer. The flavor is closer to that of a wine. It reminded me of one of my favorite rieslings. It is entirely possible that I’ve ruined myself for sours after all the bitter IPAs and Double IPAs I’ve had over the last few years.

While Sour Monkey is never going to be a favorite for me, I’m glad I’ve finally got around to trying a sour. I wouldn’t hesitate to try another.

03/30/2019 Update: I had my second Sour Monkey this weekend. This will sound gross, but the flavor reminded me of vomit. I’m not sure why I didn’t notice this with the first bottle.

I did some research, and apparently butyric acid is responsible for that vomit taste. If the beer is allowed to continue to ferment the vomit flavor will actually transition into something resembling the flavor of pineapple. However, it seems like Sour Monkey was bottled too soon – locking in puke taste. Gross.

At this point, I’m probably going to have to throw the remaining bottles away. I hate to waste a product that I paid for, but I just don’t think I can stomach another Sour Monkey. The review score will be adjusted accordingly from 6.5 to 1.

G Hughes Smokehouse Sugar Free BBQ Sauce Review: A Laboratory Experiment Gone Horribly Wrong

I don’t know who G Hughes is or why he agreed to put his name on this product. I do know he has made a terrible mistake. This review is specifically for Hickory flavor of G Hughes Smokehouse Sugar Free BBQ Sauce, but I have to assume the the other flavors (Original, Honey, Maple Brown) are similarly bad. I’m not about to pay G Hughes another dollar to find out.

Why I Tried It

I came across G Hughes Smokehouse Sugar Free BBQ Sauce in my local grocery store when trying to find a low carb alternative BBQ sauce that would fit into my ketogenic diet. I wanted a sauce to put on the pulled pork that I had smoked earlier on my Smokenator 1000 equipped Weber Kettle. The nutrition label showed 3gm net carbs, which is super low for a tomato based BBQ sauce. This a sauce that would definitely fit within my keto macros for the day. I was optimistic that I had found a great alternative to the high-carb BBQ sauces that were no longer part of my diet.

Too Good To Be True

We like to put meal sized portions of smoked pulled pork away in the freezer so that we can enjoy them all winter long. Typically we thaw the pork in the fridge over night and then cook it slowly in a covered sauce pan with a little apple juice added to keep it moist and tender. Then we divvy it up and sauce the each person’s portion individually with the sauce of their choice.

It’s as if an extra-terrestrial landed on earth and had the misfortune of visiting an Arby’s and then fell in love with Arby’s Sauce.

I put a generous pile of pork on my plate, topped it with a few tablespoons of G Hughes Smokehouse Sugar Free BBQ Sauce and mixed it in a bit. The sauce had a good color and consistency compared to the many other sauces I’ve had over the years. Then I tasted it.

The first thing I noticed was the sweetness. It was syrupy sweet. Not great, but not terrible. Then the flavor kicked in… The flavor was somewhat familiar, yet strange. Then the strange part blossomed into full on aftertaste that I was not expecting. At that point, I had realized I had made a terrible mistake. This was BBQ sauce in name only.

It’s as if an extra-terrestrial landed on earth and had the misfortune of visiting an Arby’s and then fell in love with Arby’s Sauce. Then, said alien returned to its home planet and was determined to recreate the Arby’s Sauce magic it had experienced on Earth…only without any of the actual ingredients that go into a BBQ sauce.

G Hughes Smokehouse Sugar Free BBQ Sauce tastes like it was made in a chemistry lab instead of a kitchen. This product contains sucralose (Splenda), so you might be tempted to blame the bad aftertaste on the sweetener. However, I have used sucralose products for many years and have never noticed the bizarre chemical aftertaste that showed up in this sauce.


The makers of G Hughes Smokehouse Sugar Free BBQ Sauce had good intentions in creating this product. Most tomato based sauces on your grocery store shelf simply won’t fit into any low-carb diet. They may have succeeded in making a sugar-free product, but they failed at making a quality BBQ sauce.

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