I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Colin Barker and Scott Randall, two of the pit masters at TT’s Old Iron Brewery. Neither of them were working in kitchens before, but they couldn’t resist the opportunity to create this BBQ magic with Chef Chad White.
The great thing about doing BBQ in Spokane is that “We don’t have any BBQ traditions to uphold. We can cook Texas brisket and Kansas City ribs and North Carolina pork. We don’t have the rules that some other cities do” Colin said. At TT’s, they live by the motto “Let’s do what we do really well, every day.” Well, it’s safe to say that Colin, Scott, and the team have succeeded.
They are incredibly passionate about what they do. People go to Austin Texas just for the BBQ, but the TT’s team hears every single week, “This is the best BBQ I’ve had outside of Texas” OR “this is the best I’ve had, period”.
How did each of you end up working at TT’s?
Colin Barker – Chad and I became friends over the years. I talked to him about 12 months before he planned to open TT’s and he needed someone to handle the BBQ side of the business. I told Chad that I only wanted to do it if they were going to do it right. We started by doing a little recipe testing before opening but ended up just kind of jumping into things and running with it because everything moved so fast. I worked as a pastor before becoming full time at TT’s in October 2019.
Scott Randall – My grandpa was a butcher and he taught me how to bbq. Before working at TT’s, I was doing private catering events here and there on the side. I met Colin at Falco’s BBQ Fest a couple years ago, and we became great friend. Colin asked me to join him at TT’s and I flirted with the idea then eventually joined in July 2019. Colin said, “it didn’t feel like we were really open until Scott was here”.
Your education/culinary background?
They both agreed that working at TT’s was their culinary school. They have also learned a lot from Youtube and cookbooks, but mostly from intentional time spent working.
The biggest learning curve for them was realizing that they can cook a brisket at home and follow all the steps and it will turn out perfectly. But, in the height of the Summer when they are cooking 20 briskets/day at TT’s, it’s a whole different ballgame.
Colin arrives at TT’s at 3:30am to get things going most days. They both don’t mind working the early shift because it means they get more time at home with their families.
What inspired the name?
Our owners name is Travis Thosath. He started the brewery at Steel Barrel – he had the incubator. Him and Chad became friends and Travis wanted to start a brewery but didn’t know what kind of food he wanted so he called on Chad.
A typical Day?
It starts at 3:30am and it’s really just a mad dash to get everything done in time for opening. We start by firing the smoker and getting the big proteins on first – brisket, pork butt, then we get the ribs and turkey and prep those. Chicken, sausage, sides, sauces and rubs come last. It’s a constant hustle but we’ve developed rhythms that work.
What is your podcast of choice?
They both love listening to podcasts during their early solo shifts.
Colin – anything business & leadership. I also love spy thrillers.
Scott – True Crime Podcast & Joe Rogan
What takes the longest time to cook?
Most of the meats are 2-3 day process. They’ve learned to manage the fires and get their temperatures consistent. Brisket typically takes the longest as they have a 10-12 hour cook time, but pork butts are right there too.
Every single cook is different. We’ve started to learn that different cows cook differently. You never know how it is going to turn out. We pull them off at the same temp and we can tell before it’s even sliced how good it is going to be based on the bend. We want it to feel like memory foam but firmer.
They don’t cook to order so when they sell out they sell out.
What is your preferred smoker?
We use two 500 gallon Off-set smokers named Scooter & Kettle. We also have an Old Hickory Smoker (which is a rotisserie smoker with flame constantly burning) but we’re loading in logs so you get a different flavor.
We burn all wood at TT’s. We use a specific kind of oak that gets shipped in from places like Oregon and Texas.
Most popular menu item?
Probably the Brisket or Turkey
Side: potato salad
Wednesday: Wing Day (we have wings every day but have a special offer every Wednesday)
Thursday: Burger day – brisket burger
Friday: Sometimes we do beef ribs
Do the menu items change seasonally?
A little. We are doing some roasted yam right now, but for the most part we try to keep things pretty consistent because we just want to do what we do really well. The menu isn’t that big because we want each thing to be perfect.
We also like to utilize local ingredients when we can like huckleberries for BBQ sauce.
What makes TT’s unique?
It’s as much about our team as it is about our customers. We want to provide a great environment for high school students working their first job here.
What is your favorite part of what you do?
The people. We feel so lucky to get to work with our friends every day. We are BBQ nerds and Chad has given us control of the menu so we can offer specials when we want.
Chad really appreciates what we do and he tells us, which is so rewarding.
Where do you like to eat around Spokane?
Scott – High Tide Lobster, Backyard Public House
Colin – Taste of Thai, Veraci, 1898 Public House “I think Zona Blanca is the best restaurant in Spokane because the first time I ate there, I ate a flavor I had never had before.”
If you were on an island and could only bring three things, what would you bring?
Scott – my family, a case of tri-tip, knife
Colin – wife, daughter, good book
Colin & Scott both have side-hustle Instagram accounts. Colin sells our favorite rubs on his account @Barberbbq. You can order them directly from his site or find them locally at Falcos BBQ and My Fresh Basket. Scott’s explores his two favorite hobbies: photography and food over on his account @valyriansquealbbq. Shout out to his wife, Amanda, a loyal follower. 🙂
For more information on TT’s Old Iron Brewery, visit their site http://www.ttsoldironbrewery.com/.