Trailheads made like Thin Lizzy and announced to the hiking world, "The boys are back in town." Well, not exactly "in town," but close to Alpharetta for a hike on Caney Creek Preserve Trail. We were rained out the last couple of weeks. Of course, actual outdoorsy types would say, "So what? Rain is no excuse."
It is when you're a bunch of wimps who cower from crying clouds. And to add to our shame, on our canceled hike dates, Trailheads met at sushi restaurants for lunch. WHAT?!!! The barbecue gang was eating fresh bait wrapped in sticky rice and seaweed!
What happened to the group that claimed to be "On the path to truth and barbecue"? What a pitiful lot we are. Sushi lovers claim there is a great deal of truth and goodness in raw and semi-raw fish. And we ate our collective weight in truth. But it wasn't on-brand.
But this week, the weather was agreeable, and Mother Nature opened her arms to embrace the wusses-in-boots again, and we rallied almost everyone––Roy, Brad, Guy, George, and Patrick. Steve was missing.
He had a medical appointment for something called "dry needling." It sounds like sick torture, but Steve says it relieves pain. We suspected he might send ChatGPT to fulfill his hiking duties. The revolutionary Artificial Intelligence enamors Steve.
Soon enough, perhaps the damn bot will take our hikes, eat barbecue, and pen these writeups. Trailheads will be obsolete––"on the path to irrelevance and sushi." What hath technology wrought?
Enough of future fears; we'll regale you with our tales of adventures in the great outdoors. We had never set foot on the Caney Creek Preserve Trail and were mightily impressed by it. Although this is not a long trail, it is an excellent potpourri of natural wonders––spacious open fields, beautiful woodlands, a running creek, and lots of informative signs explaining the mysterious ways of Earth (the favorite planet of most Trailheads). This trail was entertaining and educational, and we became big fans of it.
We came upon the Jack Gleason Interactive Area Archway. A placard explained that Michael "Jack" Gleason, who died in 2015 at age 54, was responsible for protecting his community's Caney Creek Preserve greenspace. Jack was an advocate for the environment, nature, and his neighbors.
We salute this local hero and all those who work keeping trails open and maintained, safeguarding natural spaces for the enjoyment of humans. Jack's quote on the sign reads: "Impossible is a degree of difficulty set by the imagination for lack of motivation." Inspiring.
RIP, Jack Gleason, and thanks for your tireless efforts in pleasing a pack of sushi eaters.
As we explored, we met a young man with a small black dog named Dixie. Elvis and Fio were delighted to have a new friend. The dogs chased each other hither and yon. Yon is a popular destination when you start at hither. We let the pups exhaust themselves, then leashed them and marched on, enjoying the sights and reading the informative signs along the way. We may have learned something––but would we remember any of it? Doubtful.
Our conversations were a typical Trailheads stew of randomness: news, weather, sports, politics, artificial intelligence versus jars with brains marked "Abby Normal."
Then we moved on to questioning whether we exist or are characters from a new Taylor Sheridan project on Paramount+ ("2023"?), pickleball equipment, strategies, and injuries, and the eternal philosophical question: if people who need people are the luckiest people in the world, what the hell does that make Powerball winners?
At this point, we realized we were hungry and walked toward the cars. Along the way, George spied a playground with a rope contraption structure. He began climbing it like King Kong, sans a blonde in his hand and swatting down planes at the top. His bandmates watched, wondering where the nearest emergency room was in case the climber fell.
He reached the top and then descended safely. The eldest Trailhead is undoubtedly the youngest at heart. We returned to our cars and headed to Loyal Q And Brew in Alpharetta, a return visit. We loved our first experience. Please read our review here. But how would we like this outing? Would we overturn tables, throw food, and cause a ruckus? Let's find out.
We set up camp on the patio. The temperature was pleasant, and Elvis and Fio kept us company while our friendly server Daniel distributed menus. He took our drink orders as we pestered him with questions about his favorite dishes and recommendations. Daniel said we couldn't go wrong with any of the smoked meats, then steered us toward the appetizer of brisket nachos. "Deal us in," we said, listening to our bellies growling.
After Daniel delivered our drinks, we placed our orders, and soon after, he brought our nachos, and we descended on them like locusts in the Bible (did they eat nachos, or was it another appetizer?).
George gushed about this plate of love––"They are a treat every human being should experience before heading to their Happy Trails. The combination of melted cheese, barbecue sauce, salty corn chips, black beans, and a touch of cilantro sprinkled over tender, smokey brisket is one of the tastiest moments in the growing library of Trailhead's lore." That pretty writing is pure poetry.
Trail Master Guy described this mound of deliciousness as "ridic." He's eloquent.
Now that our tapeworms had woken up, it was time for Daniel to bring on the main event.
Roy and Guy ordered The Big Memphis sandwich: two slabs of Texas Toast piled with Memphis-style pulled pork (inside/outside) and the house barbecue sauce, and heaped with fresh house-made slaw. Roy doubled down with a side of slaw. He loves his cabbage.
Both guys were ecstatic with their sammies, although Roy noted when we visited last time the Texas Toast was grilled on both sides, but only once this go-'round. The cabbage man raved about the slaw––"it's creamy, crispy, tasty, what more could you want?" The pork received raves: "outstanding," "smokylicious," and "eats like a dream." We think he liked it.
Elvis and Fio were impressed with Loyal Q. Daniel brought them refreshing water bowls, and the dogs lapped in luxury.
"Tastes wet," said Fio. Elvis agreed.
Patrick and George had some of the "jumbo wings," and they were as advertised. These babies were enormous, with lots of meat. Wherever these chickens lived, the fox had better beware––these are super wings with a light smokey flavor courtesy of a secret rub of spices. Give them a run through some sweet Memphis barbecue sauce and watch them disappear.
George also had sausage, describing the link as "a generous portion perfectly prepared. It's moist and the irresistible flavor of spicy smoked meat." He said it that way––like he was reading off this joint's website. Had George been replaced by ChatGPT?!
Brad had the beef brisket and enjoyed its sweet smokey flavor. He also had a small bowl of Brunswick Stew which he described as more like vegetable soup--yet another different take on this southeastern barbecue mainstay. He rounded out his meal with the light addition of a sausage link (Brad wants to be like George when he grows up). He also scarfed down some smoky, tender collard greens and a corn muffin. A well-balanced diet, you might say.
Guy had fries on the side, and they found their way onto other plates. This group loves some fried potatoes. And Loyal Q earns a bonus point for serving Heinz––the only ketchup worth pouring...and waiting in anticipation.
Trailheads settled the check, thanked Daniel for his excellent service, and rode off into the horizon as somewhere, a sushi chef cried.
We're back, baby!
Rating: Four Ribs*
Loyal Q And Brew
3655 Old Milton Parkway
Alpharetta, GA. 30005
*About Our Barbecue Rating System
Trailheads do not claim to be food experts, epicureans, or sophisticated palettes. We are hungry hikers who attack a selected barbecue venue and ravage our way through whatever smoked fare and fixings they're dishing.
Our reviews feature what we believe are the highlights of the menu we sampled. So our intent is not to trash talk the saintly folks who tend to smoldering smokers on hot, humid summer days. They are sacrificing themselves in the noble art of smoking meats and feeding the drooling masses. Many are independent entrepreneurs who are the backbone of this humming American economy.
Now that you know our standards, you may wonder why every barbecue place gets a four ribs rating. The answer is easy: our group has acclaimed designers, and they think the ribs graphic looks cool.
Who are we to argue? Enjoy.