A Competitive Barbecue Circuit Champ Operates an Award-Winning Restaurant in Colorado
When food talk turns to great barbecue locales, one typically thinks of places like Memphis, Charleston, Kansas City, and Austin. But Westminster, Colorado? Clearly, this isn’t on most people’s lists of where to go for great barbecue. But at Gque Championship BBQ, owner Jason Ganahl may be changing that perception with his own tried and tested version of barbecue, a mouth-watering effort to put this town on the barbecue map.
Tucked into a little corner of the Sheridan Crossing shopping mall just north of Denver, Gque (a play on the owner’s last name) opened its doors in November 2015. But the road to this point started long ago. Ganahl became a smoked meat fan at an early age while watching his dad work his magic on their backyard grill.
In his twenties, he was eating barbecue three times per week, and in 2009, he decided to become a Kansas City Barbecue Society competition judge. A couple of years later, Ganahl began to enter regional competitions and started winning awards, including the prestigious Rocky Mountain BBQ Association’s Team of the Year Award in 2014.
After Ganahl decided to turn his passion into a brick-and-mortar operation in Westminster, the public and media were quick to embrace him as a local barbecue sensation. His restaurant’s accolades include being named among the Best of the Best Barbecue Restaurants in America (one of 29 for June 2017) by The National Barbecue News, listed as one of Denver’s Hottest New Restaurants 2015 by Zagat, and featured as one of Denver’s essential barbecue restaurants in 2016 by Eater. His brisket and ribs also made Westword’s 100 Favorite Dishes in 2016.
Ganahl makes everything fresh from scratch each day using the best ingredients he can find. This includes USDA prime brisket, which he slowly smokes over pesticide-free hickory wood from eastern Kansas. Even the lemonade is made using just lemons, water, and sugar.
The ambiance is simple, with an order counter and some booths, tables, and chairs. But customers come here for Ganahl’s meats, which can be ordered by the pound or in a sandwich with sides that come with a twist.
Meats include pulled pork, USDA prime brisket, all-white-meat turkey breast, dry-rubbed chicken wings, pork spare ribs, and jalapeño Cheddar sausage. These can be enjoyed with the house-made sauces such as The Topper, a savory barbecue sauce, or The Hottish, a spicy variety.
The brisket is plastic-fork-tender and will melt in your mouth. The ribs come with a glaze and are a taste sensation with either sauce.
The sides include Ganahl’s variation on coleslaw made with Granny Smith apples, which he calls apple slaw. His pit-smoked beans, which take four hours to prepare, are out-of-this-world — tangy, sweet, and smoky. The hand-cut salt-brined fries have a crispiness to them that makes them pop in your mouth.
Ganahl himself is a non-stop dynamo. When he’s not managing his restaurant, he’s doing spots on local TV or teaching classes to anyone who shares his passion. But above all, he stays true to the roots of what got him started in the barbecue business. Many days, he can be found out back making YouTube videos for his channel and grilling on the backyard grill, just like his dad used to.
FTC Disclosure: This was a sponsored visit, however, all opinions herein are the author’s.