As I pull into the gravel parking lot of Crane Brewing in Raytown, Missouri, on a hot Saturday in August, I spy a 375-gallon offset smoker kicking off a faint trickle of smoke. I step inside the brewery and work my way past the bar area and across the production floor and eventually take my place in line with the small crowd gathered in the barrel room, flanked by giant, wooden vats of beer. I was ready for my first taste of Harp Barbecue. Owner Tyler Harp dons an apron and positions himself behind a cutting board, ready to slice ribs and brisket to order.
Tyler has been around Kansas City barbecue as far back as he can remember. "My favorite memories of being a child are playing baseball and being at barbecue contests with my dad, six to eight times a summer," he tells me.