Carnivores will now be able to pair beer with Ferguson’s Finest barbecue at The Craft of Brewing in Ashburn every Thursday through Sunday. Starting Friday, June 22, owner Mike Ferguson, whose barbecue style takes cues from East Carolina, Central Texas and Memphis, will serve his wood-smoked meat at the brewery. “I don’t like to discriminate types of barbecue,” he says. “The thing that I stick with is true, nothing but wood-smoked barbecue.”
Ferguson believes a key ingredient in great barbecue is patience, so he’s not a fan of the smokers that can be left to self-regulate. “I stay up there all night until the early morning and I serve the next day,” he says. “There’s a sense of art that goes into this and a real science that goes into this. You need to watch the fire.”
Ferguson trained at the now-shuttered L’Academie de Cuisine and worked at Washington, D.C., hot spots like Convivial and Pineapple & Pearls before opening Ferguson’s Finest. “I looked at the kind of cuisine that they did and I loved it. I had a real appreciation for it, but I think barbecue has always held a special place in my heart,” Ferguson says. “It’s such an intense and labor-intensive job and way of cooking, but it’s such a clearly down-to-earth way of cooking.”
Ferguson starts with meat sourced from Ayrshire Farm in Upperville and turns it into smoked ribs, brisket, pulled pork, Polish sausage, chicken wings, pork belly and more. He’s been popping up at breweries and providing catering for offices since October of last year, serving barbecue sandwiches and sides, but recently decided he needed a more permanent arrangement. “I knew I had to be somewhere where people could always find me on the weekend,” Ferguson says.
The menu for his ongoing residency at The Craft of Brewing will feature Texas-style platters with a choice of meats and traditional sides like potato salad and coleslaw. “We’re going to switch up the meats every now and then, but we’re going to start with the original core three,” he explains, which includes brisket, pulled pork and ribs.
To complete the smoky experience, The Craft of Brewing is producing a special beer for Ferguson: a smoked Irish red. “Irish reds are my favorite beer,” he says. “It’s going to give off more of a bacon-y kind of smoke, like a fruit wood. And that’s going to go pretty nicely with everything that we have. It’s not overly smoked.”
Ferguson eventually plans to host events in collaboration with the brewery, from beer and barbecue pairing dinners to pig roasts. During the weekend after the Fourth of July (July 6-8), they’ll roast a couple of whole hogs from Autumn Olive Farms and offer specials, too.
Ferguson also has a food truck in the works, which is slated to launch late fall. “We’re going to be able to expand what we’re doing a little further out,” he says.
“We’re just a local barbecue place and we’re just trying to make a name for ourselves and I feel like we’re doing things the correct way,” Ferguson says. “It’s a very unique way of cooking food and it takes a lot of patience and a lot of labor, but at the end of the day, it’s a lot of love that goes into it and that’s what makes it taste great.” // Ferguson’s Finest at The Craft of Brewing: 21140 Ashburn Crossing Drive, Suite 170, Ashburn