When Dustin Reynolds and Amanda Ogle opened T&D Barbecue in Weatherford back in late 2020, they needed a barbecue sauce. A friend, Ethan Murphy, gave them a recipe to start from, and Reynolds added his own touches, including a splash of Fireball Cinnamon Whisky (the alcohol burns off while the sauce is cooking, the couple says). They named the sauce Murph Juice, after their helpful friend. A few months ago, they entrusted that sauce recipe to John Laughman, the head brewer at Martin House Brewing Company, in Fort Worth, to create a barbecue sauce–flavored beer also called Murph Juice, which was released last week.
Murph Juice is certainly the first barbecue sauce beer I’ve ever tasted, but Martin House is all about firsts when it comes to beer combinations. “There’s nothing off-limits for us,” Laughman said. The brewery’s current tap list proves that with a Scotch ale brewed with haggis called Turnbull Kellie. In the past, Martin House produced Azathoth, an imperial ale brewed with menthol and squid ink. You might know the brand best for the popular Best Maid Sour Pickle beer, which was first released in 2019. It can be found on store shelves all over Texas, and we highlighted the pucker-inducing brew a couple years ago.
Laughman used the sour base recipe for the pickle beer—minus the pickle brine—for Murph Juice. “It came out really drinkable for a barbecue-sauce beer,” he said. If the black-pepper spice of Murph Juice is too powerful, he suggests mixing it with the sour-pickle beer. Then all that’s missing for the full barbecue experience is the smoked brisket.
A smoked-meat beer isn’t out of the question for Martin House’s future collaborations. It brewed a stout inspired by bacon burnt ends from Heim Barbecue in 2019, which sold well. “There’s definitely a chance we do more with barbecue places,” Laughman said. And he said adding smoked meat into a batch—surprisingly—doesn’t create serious brewing challenges. “The fat causes some head-retention issues, but that’s about it,” he explained.
I picked up a four-pack of Murph Juice from the brewery and tried it at home. After admiring the label, which is Ogle’s photo of the bountiful barbecue served at the T&D trailer, I poured Murph Juice into a glass. It’s cloudy like apple cider, and the barbecue-sauce aroma is unmistakable. The flavor is reminiscent of that of a michelada, with an aftertaste of a garlicky shrimp boil. It’s a savory beer that’s not for everyone, but if you’ve enjoyed Martin House’s Salty Lady, give this spicier version a try. Tasting notes from drinkers on Untappd range from “a rib but without the meat” to “tastes like super bowl hangover.”
If you’re interested in a taste, Murph Juice won’t last long. Laughman brews just three hundred gallons of these special collaboration beers, and they’re usually sold out in a few weeks. If you miss it, Martin House will release its next concoction at Glizzy Fest in Fort Worth on July 16. Awesome Sauce: Bun Length, a “hot dog water seltzer” predictably brewed with hot-dog water, will be served, as will a mustard-spiked version of the sour-pickle beer. T&D Barbecue will also be there, with some special-recipe smoked sausages. Reynolds and Ogle also serve a full barbecue menu Wednesday through Friday at their trailer in Weatherford. I’ve tried it again since last year’s review, and the barbecue is even more impressive, especially the pork ribs. Reynolds and Ogle said the cooler of free beer next to the ordering window will include Martin House Sour Pickle beer for the foreseeable future, and maybe a few cans of Murph Juice before it’s all gone.