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May 4 @ 7:00 am - 11:00 pm

Join us on Saturday, May 4th, 2024 for the ultimate culinary competition at Dark Horse Brewing Co.’s Annual Rib and Brisket Smoke Off competition! We’ll be open bright and early with Breakfast in the Commons Market at 7:00 A.M., followed by the opening of our Taproom and Beer Garten at 11:00 A.M.

This year, competitors are firing up the grills and smokers to support our Marshall Area Community Services (MACS), a vital local charity dedicated to helping those in need. A portion of every Smoke Off entry ticket will go directly to MACS, aiding their efforts in providing food, clothing, utility assistance, and more to our community.

Admission is just $25 per person at the door, with $5 of each ticket benefiting MACS. Your ticket grants you access to the event all day long, where you’ll enjoy tantalizing flavors from the Dark Horse team, amateurs, and pro smokers. Seven hours of live music headlined by the electrifying talent of local budding superstar Jake Kershaw! Kids under 10 enter free (food tickets available separately).

Feast on mouth-watering ribs and brisket, each available for just $1 per ticket. With five food tickets included in your entry, you’re in for a flavorful journey. And while you savor the smoky goodness, groove to the tunes of Shane Bond, Chris Canas Band, and Jake Kershaw, ensuring a day filled with delicious food, craft beers, cocktails, music, and community spirit.

Mark your calendars and come hungry – it’s a celebration of flavor and giving back at the Dark Horse Brewing Co. Annual Smoke Off!

Admission – $25 entry charge per person  ($5.00 goes to MACS)



Kids under 10 free entry (food tickets available separately)

Food is ready To Eat at 5:30pm ($1/Ticket – 1 Ticket = 1 Rib or 1 Piece of Brisket)

7 Hours of Live Music

Shane Bond 1:00 – 3:00 PM

Chris Canas 3:30 – 5:30 PM

Jake Kershaw 6:00 – 8:00 PM

The competition will be in two divisions: Pro contestants and Amateur contestants 

Interested in participating in the Amateur or Pro Smoke Off division this year?!? PLEASE READ THE COMPETITION DETAILS & REGISTER YOUR TEAM BELOW!

The rundown for each contestant: 

2024 Smoke Off is a one-day event. Smoke off is all about the charity event, to party with lifetime friends and work together for a great cause. Friday night will kickstart our event with the Pros pouring in to start their Brisket. Saturday morning, they will be joined by the Amateur division to start their rib competition. 

Each division will be judged this year by our selected judges and each competitor will be listed after the competition (top half will be named and bottom half will be listed as their judging number). 

 1. Ribs and Brisket: All Ribs and Brisket entered in the contest must be purchased from us in advance (part of your entry fee). If you want to eat ribs and brisket you will have to buy tickets like the public. (buying tickets and trying other competitor’s entries is encouraged). Ribs and Briskets will be available to pick up for Pros – Friday May 3rd at 6pm. Amateur’s – pick up will be Saturday, May 4th, at 7am

For anyone interested, we will sell you extra ribs @ $15/slab and brisket @ $75/packer, but we must know in advance so we can order enough- Add to your registration form and make your payment accordingly. 

  1. YOU MUST USE DARK HORSE or ROAK BEER. All entries must use either Dark Horse or Roak’s beer. Must be used somewhere in the prep or cooking process for ribs and/or brisket. This will be a part of your judging! This year you will have a sheet explaining your process. 
  2. You may use any type of heat source. Be sure to record this in your registration. 
  3. Deadline: All Pro-division and Amateur entries must be turned in online or the event contact (Emily) with entry fees by Thursday, April 24th, 2024· Weather: This is a rain or shine event. Please plan accordingly. 
  • Teams: Teams are limited to two people per entry (a third person will either need to start another team or pay the entry fee). All contestants must agree to have fun. This is a charity event so please come to socialize, cook some meat, and make a difference for our local families in need. We want everyone to have a good time and enjoy being a huge part of our madness! 

What we will provide: Each team will receive a wristband to get into the event, these will also give you a “smokers discount” on Beer. We will also have available, Water, Meat, your judging containers, serving boats, 2 pairs of gloves, wet naps, and electricity (If electricity is needed you may use it for your electric smoker. You must have this part marked on your registration form so we can set you up in the correct spot. These spots are limited so it will go to first come first serve)

  • What you will need to bring: Your fuel source, smoker, all utensils, any tools you may need, pop up tent (optional and something to hold it down if it is windy), folding table/prep area, chairs, and anything else you may want or need. Please note, you will not be able to park your vehicle at your designated smoking area- You must unload as necessary and park behind our ridiculous department.. 

If you have a covered trailer, you cook out of, I need your dimensions filled out on your registration form (Most smoker spots are about the size of a parking space). 

  • When judging this year, we will be announcing the top half of contestants by name, the remainder of the contestants will be announced by their judging numbers. This is a charity event and we are all here to create memories and have a good time. 



Each entry in the pro division is $315 and includes: Six racks of ribs, one full packer beef brisket- USDA Choice Certified Angus Beef or better, $150 of the entry fee goes to a cash pool: Prize payout example; IF 40 entries are taken, the prize pool will be $6,000.00 with cash payouts as follows:

(percentage payout 15/10/5, 15/10/5, 25/15)

First Place Ribs-$900.00 

Second Place Ribs-$600.00 

Third Place Ribs-$300.00. 

First Place Brisket-$900.00 

Second Place Brisket-$600.00 

Third Place Brisket-$300.00. 

Grand Champion-$1500.00 

Reserve Grand Champion-$900.00. 

This same percentage payout (15/10/5, 15/10/5, 25/15) will be applied no matter the number of entrants in this division-get the word out to your smoking friends and fill this sucker up, that’s really good money!

First Place in each division, along with Grand & Reserve Champion also receives trophies. 

Judges: You will pick up 6 racks of ribs and 1 brisket from the pickup station. Pros will be judged by a separate five-judge panel. They will be given strict parameters for what they are looking for in perfectly cooked ribs and brisket. 

Ribs and Briskets will be handed out on a first come first served basis, you pick out your own meat. Gates to your Pro smoking stations will be open at 6 pm on Friday, May 3rd. 


Amateur Division: 

Each entry in the amateur division is $90.00 and includes Six racks of ribs. Ribs will be handed out the morning of May 4th (first come first serve) with all prep and cooking to be done on-site. Gates to your smoking stations will be open Saturday, May 4th, at 7 am and ribs will be available to pick up at 7 am. 

Judging: You will pick up 6 racks of ribs. Amateurs will be judged by a separate five-judge panel. This year you will be judged and given score sheets. We will judge just as we judge pros so you can improve each year. Drop off 5 ribs per team for judging – the rest of the ribs get handed out to the public.  

Amateur prize: 1st Place Trophy!

Smoke-Off Judging Parameters 

The meat will be judged by the following parameters: 

  1. Dark Horse or Roak Beer used in the product/process-10 points We will give you a sheet to explain your process this year. 
  1. Presentation-the meat itself; is there a smoke ring; does it appear evenly cooked, etc.-Up to 10 points 
  1. Texture-see below-Up to 10 points 
  1. Flavor-see below-Up to 10 points 
  1. Overall product quality-Up to 10 points 

Five judges can award up to 50 points per entry, with 250 possible points per meat and 500 possible points for combined totals to determine overall winners. 

Total points for each meat will determine 1st, 2nd and 3rd places; Grand and Reserve Champions (pros only apply) will be determined by total combined score of ribs and brisket. 

RIBS: When cut, there should be a smoke ring around the outside of the meat. The ribs should pull off the bone cleanly without falling off the bone or being mushy. The bone itself should retain slight moisture, or sweat, once the meat has been pulled away, but not have pieces of rib meat clinging to it; the bone should not be completely dry after the bite is taken. The meat should have a degree of smoky flavor without being harsh or acrid. The ribs may be either sauced or un-sauced, but there should not be “puddling” of sauce in the presentation container. If you want to make a bed of lettuce or parsley or some other presentation, feel free, but it WILL NOT be a judging parameter. 

BRISKET: Brisket should be cut approximately ¼” thick, (about the width of a #2 pencil), generally from the flat, and should exhibit a defined smoke ring around the outside of the meat. The meat should be juicy and tender, not dry or tough; it shouldn’t fall apart upon slicing but should pull apart with a gentle tug (picture a slice draped over a thin knife blade-it should seem as if gravity is slowly pulling the meat apart). The slices should be uniform in width, should be evenly and uniformly cooked, and should not be tough or mushy. The meat should have a degree of smoky flavor without being harsh or acrid. The brisket may be sauced or un-sauced, but there should not be a “puddling” of sauce in the presentation container. If you want to make a bed of lettuce or parsley or some other presentation, feel free, but it WILL NOT be a judging parameter. 

You will be given two food trays with your contestant # on the inside of the lid. For brisket, 5-6 slices must be in the container and ready for judging – you will be given a time to turn in your meat. The rest of the brisket should be ready to serve to the public (by you) at 5:30 Sharp. The rest of the ribs in your racks must be cut into individual ribs (count and cut the two little end ribs as one rib) and be ready for public consumption at 5:30 PM sharp. At 5:30, the public will be able to “buy” ribs or brisket with tickets purchased at the door-you must be at your table and you must take 1 ticket for each rib or 2 oz of brisket. The number of tickets sold will be nearly equal to the number of meat given out to contestants. 

Smoke Off Schedule: 

Friday: May 3rd 

6 pm – Pros can set up in the smoking area and meat pick-up begins.   

6 pm-12 am – Taproom will provide beer specials for contestants. 

Saturday: May 4th

7 am – Amateurs start setting up and meat pick-up begins. 

7 am-11 am – Taproom is open for contestants for beer specials and breakfast is open in the Commons Market.

11 am – Taproom, smoking area, and Beer Garten are open to the public (wristbands and food tickets become available – 10 tix max per person) 

1 pm – Live music begins w/Shane Bond

3:30 pm Chris Canas Band

4:30 pm – Brisket and Rib turn-ins begin (pros and amateurs – you will have times on your containers to drop off) 

5:30 pm – Brisket and Ribs available for public purchase

6:00 pm Jake Kershaw 

8:00 pm – Announcement of the 2024 Smoke Off winners!  

Last call for alcohol 15 Mins before close!

Interested in participating in the Amateur or Pro Smoker division this year?!? REGISTER YOUR TEAM BELOW!

Smoke Off Event Registration 2024

Smoke Off Event Registration 2024

Address *
Address Line 1
Address Line 2
Zip Code
Which Division are you entering?
# of extra ribs @ $15/slab
# of extra brisket @75/packer (pro only)

Credit Card
Credit Card


May 4
7:00 am - 11:00 pm
Event Category:


Dark Horse Brewing Co.
511 S. Kalamazoo Ave.
Marshall, MI 49068 United States
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