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May 5 @ 6:00 pm - May 6 @ 12:00 am

Dark Horse Brewing Co.

2023 Annual Smoke-Off

Saturday, May 6th, 2023 

Join us, Saturday, May 6th, for our Annual Rib and Brisket Smoke Off! This year we will support our Marshall Area Community Services (MACS) with perishable goods and donations. MACS maintains a food pantry and gives food to local people in need who contact them. They also provide help with clothing, utilities, gasoline, lodging, and other emergencies. Around Christmas, they also provide gift baskets and meals. Come support our local charity and help us give back to the community!


1-3PM – Kevin Nichols


6-8PM – Chris Canas Band

Guest Entry – $15 cover charge
Food Ready to Eat at 5:30pm ($1/Ticket – 1 Ticket = 1 Rib or 1 Piece of Brisket) 

The Smoke Off will be divided in two divisions:

Pro participants and Amateur participants

Pros and amateurs will participate in the rib category. Pros participate in the brisket category.



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

6pm-12am – Taproom will provide beverage specials for participants.


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

7am-11am – Taproom is open for participants for beverage specials.

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

1pm – Live music begins.

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

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

8:00pm – Announcement of the winners.

11:30pm – Last call for alcohol.


The rundown for each Smoker: 

2023 Smoke Off will be a one-day event this year.  Smoke off is ALL ABOUT the charity event, to get together 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 ribs.

Each division will be judged this year by our selected judges and each pit smoker will be listed after the event (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 participant’s meats are encouraged). Ribs and Briskets will be available to pick up for Pros – Friday May 5th at 6pm Amateur’s – pick up will be Saturday May 6th 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.

2. YOU MUST USE DARK HORSE or ROAK INGREDIENTS. All entries must use either Dark Horse or Roak’s inspired ingredients/flavors. 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.

3. You may use any type of heat source. Be sure to record this in your registration.


4. Deadline: All Pro-division and Amateur entries must be turned in online or to the event contact (Emily) with entry fees by Thursday, April 27th, 2023

  • Weather: This is a rain-or-shine event. Please plan accordingly.
  • Teams: Teams are limited to two people per entry
  • (A third person must either start another team or pay the entry fee).

All participants 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 DH will provide:  Each team will receive a wristband to get into the event, these will also give you a “smokers discount” on taproom beverages. We will also have available, Water, Meat, your judging containers, serving boats, 2 pairs of gloves, wet naps, and electricity (NOTE: 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(10), 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 across the street.

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 the 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 $165 and includes:

  • Six racks of ribs, one full-packer beef brisket- USDA Choice Certified Angus Beef or better.
    • (Please Note: The original entry fee was $315 for pros)
      • $150 of the original entry fee for pros, will be refunded at check-in, There will be NO CASH PRIZE this year due to license/regulation restrictions.
        • We put this event on for community and charity and we hope this adjustment does not deter your participation, it’s going to be a helluva day!
        • Unfortunately, we don’t make all the rules, but we do follow them!
        • (for further questions or communications please contact our GM Emily. Emily@darkhorsebrewery.com)

First Place in each division, along with Grand Champion will receive 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.

See attached, “judging parameters and schedule” sheet. Ribs and Briskets will be handed out first come first served basis-you pick out your own meat. Gates to your smoking stations will be open at 6pm on Friday, May 5th.


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 6th (first come first serve) with all prep and cooking to be done on-site. Gates to your smoking stations will be open at 7am and ribs will be available to pick up at 7am.

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.

The meat will be judged by the following parameters: 

  1. Dark Horse or Roak-inspired ingredients used in the product/process -10 points.
    1. We will give you a sheet to explain your process this year.
  2. Presentation
    1. The meat itself. Is there a smoke ring; does it appear evenly cooked, etc.-Up to 10 points.
  3. Texture-see below-Up to 10 points
  4. Flavor-see below-Up to 10 points
  5. 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 “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 5:30pm 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 2oz of brisket. The number of tickets sold will be nearly equal to the number of meats given out to contestants.



Smoke Off Event Registration 2023

Smoke Off Event Registration 2023

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 5 @ 6:00 pm
May 6 @ 12:00 am
Event Category:
Event Tags:
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Dark Horse Brewing Co.
511 S. Kalamazoo Ave.
Marshall, MI 49068 United States
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