1st & 2nd July 2017. Bristol Harbourside.


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King of the Grill 2017

The heart and soul of the Grillstock Festivals is ‘King of the Grill’, a huge two-day, US-style, low-’n’-slow BBQ competition with dozens of teams battling it out over the smoky coals to be crowned Grand Champion.

Grand Champions win all kinds of cool stuff, including a wedge of cash, a custom cigar-box guitar, a massive trophy, and entry to other worldwide BBQ competitions. But, above all, they win ultimate bragging rights. Respect.

Over the Saturday and Sunday of the festival, teams work tirelessly – often sleeplessly – to ‘turn in’ seven meaty categories to a panel of between five and seven judges. The judges are drawn from BBQ experts, chefs, true foodies… and, of course, our own pit-lovin’ selves. These King of the Grill aficionados take bite after juicy bite from the food turned in by our amazing teams. As they taste, the judges allocate a point score (out of 100 altogether) for every dish.

Grillstock has teamed up with Visit Dallas and Fort Worth for our 2017 festival.

They’re ramping up our BBQ Competition this year and bringing some of their Texan-style fun and games such as the the all-new STOCKYARD rodeo. How long can you stay on??

Football is a big deal in Texas and our friends are bringing over some authentic NFL games to test your ‘Pro Bowl’ skills at the festival.

Most exciting of all is they’re giving two lucky people the chance to experience the Texan lifestyle and to indulge in some of the best BBQ restaurants in Texas.

Watch this space for how to enter.


Competition BBQ is the best BBQ you can eat.

The seven competition categories we give our bold and brave pitmasters are:



We see Boston butt, picnic and/or whole shoulder, and have it cooked as a single piece of meat. Judges look for the meat to have been teased apart, not overworked, combined with a good chew and flavour from the bark (the crust on the outside of the meat). The rub will be prominent, and balanced with the rest of the flavours. Sauce in competition BBQ usually errs heavily on sweet and heat, with a good vinegary kick in the back.




For competition, we accept pork spare ribs, loin or baby back ribs only. Judges look for seven or eight identical-looking, neatly trimmed ribs, each with a flawless saucy glaze. Spare ribs are usually the pitmasters’ choice, as they offer more flavour and chew. They are also slightly more forgiving to cook, being that they are larger and fattier than their smaller baby back cousins. Ribs should pack a big punch of rub, smoke and sauce flavours – all in perfect harmony and none overpowering the rib meat itself. A team will instantly lose points for any signs that rib membrane (see box, p.52) has been left in place before cooking. That’s just laziness.




A cut of beef taken from the chest of the cow, brisket is made up of two parts – the flat (the widest, meatiest part) and the point (the narrower, fattier end). An entry to the judges’ table might be the whole brisket, or one or other part – but usually it combines a number of identical-looking slices from the leaner flat, as well as some juicy, sticky burnt ends on the side. These are made from the fattier point section. Smoke rings (literally, a pinker ring around the edge of each brisket slice) will gain valuable points. The meat should be juicy and… well, beefy… and served without a sauce. Serving up dry brisket is BBQ suicide.




Chicken may be cooked whole, halved or in pieces. Typically, pitmasters will turn in smoked chicken thighs (see p.98 in our BBQ Book), which are less prone to drying out during smoking, and carry more flavour than the breast. We see real skill when the skin is ‘bitethrough’ and the meat is succulent and delicious.



Chef’s Choice

The dishes in this category can be anything the team wishes to enter, providing the main component is cooked on a BBQ. Pitmasters can really show some creativity, flair and panache. We’ve seen some eye-popping entries over the years – from a three-tier pork-pie wedding cake and a roast chicken riding a metal motorbike to a metre-tall tower of moink balls, as well as eel sushi, gumbo, a whole roast lamb, and a whole suckling pig.




A competition burger is a patty of ground beef or alternative – and it’s what’s between the bun or bread we’re judging. Some teams go for toppings that are crazy, exotic and awe-inspiring. Others go simple. Experience tells us that while a creative looking burger may score points for appearance, the winners are usually the guys that make a simple burger – but do it very, very well.




Teams turn in part or whole chicken wings, and this round is about fun… and heat. Maybe we should rename it the ‘Scoville Round’ – after the Scoville Scale that measures chilli strength. Some of those wings are so hot we make Wings’ judges sign a disclaimer before they bite. Glass of milk, anyone?