Last week I had the pleasure of picking up my son Zak from his mother’s house in Huntsville, AL and driving with him back to VA for a summer internship. Along the way, our “boys trip” took an unexpected turn as we detoured to Lynchburg, TN and the birthplace of Old No. 7. Once there, and thanks to some knowledgeable locals, we also found some really good BBQ that is worth including in this story. So, sit back, grab a Jack & Coke, and read about our Jack Daniel’s and Barrel House BBQ experience!
Jack Daniels and Barrel House BBQ
Driving north on I-65 from Huntsville, my son Zak noticed the sign for the Jack Daniel’s Distillery. We had no agenda and had nowhere to be so we both agreed to exit and visit Lynchburg, TN and the home of Jack Daniel’s.
We drove quite a way down the road towards Lynchburg and noticed we still hadn’t seen any more signs or information. Zak looked up the destination on his phone and we were still 40 minutes away! We looked at one another and said “what the heck, let’s go”! When we finally arrived we were pleasantly surprised to see the welcome sign waiting for us.
As most of you know, I am a Bourbon fan and my friends and family in Kentucky may be dismayed to know I was visiting Tennessee and tasting some Tennessee Whisky. But Tennessee’s Whisky is not too dissimilar to Bourbon. In fact it IS straight Bourbon whisky… with one exception… and that is the Lincoln County Process. Basically, before they put the Bourbon in to the barrels they filter it through maple charcoal first. This additional filtration process is the main difference between Bourbon and Tennessee Whisky.
Zak had just turned 21 two days before this trip and we wanted to commemorate the experience with something special. So, after the tour I bought him a bottle of Gentleman Jack and had it engraved with the date of his 21st birthday! This bottle will be used to mark special occasions in Zak’s life going forward. In fact, we did a shot at the end of this long road trip… but that’s another story.
On the tour we met a lovely couple who lived in Lynchburg, TN; they were with their son who was visiting from out of town. When they asked if I liked BBQ, a smile crossed my face. I did not try to hide my enthusiasm and responded with a “YES I LOVE BBQ”! They told me about Barrel House BBQ in the historic part of Lynchburg and said they served incredible ribs. Zak and I knew right away what we were doing for lunch!
Right outside of the Jack Daniels Distillery there was a small path leading to Historic Lynchburg. Away we went happy that the boys trip just got immeasurably more interesting!
Not too far off the path (literally) we found Barrelhouse BBQ. Walking up to the restaurant I noticed that this place was featured in an episode of Destination America’s BBQ Pitmasters and my excitement grew. As we were outside taking pictures the owner, Chuck Baker, introduced himself. Chuck is a great guy and very hospitable. I got to know all about his restaurant and how it came to be. Back in 2012 Chuck bought an old Laundromat, built a pit out of concrete block, built the tables and chairs out of old Jack Daniel’s barrels, and dove headfirst in to the BBQ business! What a great guy and an even better story.
Once inside we found the restaurant filled with people and energy. The staff was super friendly and the service was fantastic! We got started with a pile Nachos featuring their pulled pork BBQ. This was plenty for two people and tasted even better than it looks!
Next we tried their pulled pork BBQ sandwich with a side of slaw and corn on the cob. The pulled pork was tender and full of smoky flavor. We used their Barrel House BBQ Hot Habanero Sauce to compliment the sandwich. This was good, authentic, pulled pork BBQ for sure!
Hands down the star of this show was their ribs! These baby back ribs were smoked to perfection. The dry rub was so good they didn’t need sauce. We could have eaten another rack of these bad boys for sure. My guidance to you, when you visit, is to pass “go” and head directly for the ribs as you will not be disappointed.
It didn’t take long for me to ask Chuck for a tour of his smokehouse. We walked out the back door and in to the smokehouse right next to the restaurant.
Inside we meet Miguel (or Michael?… I should take better notes) smoking some sausages.
Next we find Chuck’s homemade pit and racks of ribs slowly smoking. The smell of this smokehouse was as good as it gets. My only regret was not getting more of those ribs!
If and when you find yourselves driving through Tennessee make sure to head to Lynchburg for the Jack Daniel’s tour followed by a meal at Barrelhouse BBQ. Thank me when you do!