When he dies he probably wants to be crusted over with kosher salt and coarse black pepper, loaded on his big iron smoker, cooked through the night, then fed to the crew over at Shaggybevo’s GM Steakhouse.
It will be a fitting end for a man who has given his life to Texas barbecue. He’s got enough brimstone in him that you won’t need to apply any cayenne.
Today is the 1 year anniversary of John Mueller opening his eponymous food trailer down in the Bouldin Creek neighborhood of South Austin, so we thought we’d take a look back at the man who’s once again left a giant, fist-shaped imprint on the world of Texas smoked meat. Way back in May of last year we penned an article titled: Forgotten Barbecue Joints of Central Texas Part 2: John Mueller Barbecue
We had no way of knowing that Mueller, who’d spent 5 years on the sidelines, was plotting a return to the game that had left him bloodied and bowed via the implosion of his iconic Manor Road eatery.
Then we got wind that Mueller was indeed back and preparing to launch on Austin’s East Side. We authored “East Austin: Where Beef Sausage Rains From The Sky. John Mueller’s New Barbecue Joint where we speculated on what this might mean for the Central Texas barbecue world.
By this point we were trying like Hell to get an interview with the reclusive, hard-nosed Williamson County native. We described the process thusly “Finally, after some serious smoke-filled room negotiations, parlays where his people met our people in dusty honky tonks near Thorndale, and an attache’ case niftily passed from one op to another at a busy North Austin transit center, a deal was brokered and we sat down with the legend.”
We wrote “The Definitive Article On The New John Mueller Barbecue Joint Part Two: An Interview With The legend
and then, 364 days ago, we posted: “Is A New Era Set To Begin In Texas Barbecue Brisket and Hot Guts? John Mueller Opens Sat Oct 8th 2011″
We rolled in on opening day to see if rust had settled in and robbed the old pit boss of his former ability. We needn’t have worried. The brisket was the same beefy butter as it had been and Mueller, of course, threw a tirade at some beleaguered patron who crossed him.
Some things never change.
March came in with a roar as Mueller issued a stark challenge to former pupil Aaron Franklin: “John Mueller Throws Down The Gauntlet:Challenges Aaron Franklin To Battle For Barbecue Supremacy That post went red hot as we speculated about where such a challenge might take place and how hard it might be to get a ticket to the event.
With a brand new F1 track out in the county that can accommodate over a 100k people I have a feeling this barbecue battle for the ages might actually happen. Either hold it in tandem with an F1 motorcar race or do it as a stand-alone duel. Either way, it’s a sell-out.
Mueller went on to be anointed best smokehouse in Austin, besting national favorite Franklin via the pen of Mike Sutter, one of Texas’ top food critics
As a capper to year 1, in a move straight out of the Von Erich’s era of pro wrestling; John Lewis, Franklin Barbecue’s pit boss migrated across town and joined forces with John Mueller.
The reverberations of this seismic shift in Texas brisket hierarchy will be felt for a generation. Decades from now children will ask their parents where they were when the news broke. Each Texan will dutifully respond with where they were, what they were doing and indeed, the clothing they had donned that morning prior to the story breaking out of South Austin.
Which brings us to today. The one year anniversary of the hot headed Mueller’s re-entry into the Austin, the Texas and the national barbecue conversation. Looking ahead, you have to wonder how much longer Mueller will be working out of his food trailer. Will he be content with owning 1 barbecue outfit or will we see another location open in Austin? If that happens could he possibly take the restaurant state-wide? Imagine a John Mueller Barbecue in Dallas or Houston. There’s nothing in either of those cities that can hold a candle to what’s happening down in South Austin.
What if it all comes crashing down once more? Mueller’s fiery collapse 6 years ago was well documented. He scaled the mountain and suffered a fall from grace of biblical proportions. Is he older and wiser or will his volcanic temper get the better of him again? Could Mueller end up on the lam out near Juarez? Or on a paddleboat heading up the Mississippi, dealing cards and sipping off a flask of hooch he rolled some guy for in Natchez?
It’s just hard to say.