The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

May 15, 2013

LawLers in Final Four of barbecue sauces

By Caleb Odom
For The News Courier

— LawLers Barbecue rib sauce, well known to connoisseurs of barbecue in Athens, is one of four such sauces to be judged Saturday to select the best tasting in Alabama.

The contest, organized by The Alabama Tourism Department, takes place at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at Pepper Place Market in Birmingham. The judging panel consists of Cindy Martin CEO/President of, Vanessa Rocchio from Southern Living Magazine and Clare Huddleston of WBRC-FOX 6.

“It’s like a real simple taste test,” said contest coordinator Brian Jones. “It’s not with any kind of meat or anything like that, it’s purely the taste of the sauce.” Jones said the judges will taste the sauces with either a spoon or bread.

The other sauces in the contest are Costas in Birmingham, Phil’s BBQ in Eufaula and Viper in Fairhope.

“We were asked to be in it and we thought we would see how we stacked up,” said Phillip Lawler, president of the family-owned LawLers. “And we are really happy we have gone as far as we have.”

Lawler and Sharon Estes set out to make a rib sauce incorporating pineapple that people would enjoy on their barbecue.

“We liked the taste of pineapple in barbecue sauce,” Lawler said. “And we started out with pineapple and we kept adding things to it until we finally got it where we liked it.”

Now that same sauce is poised to become award winning.

“We tried to come up with something just a little different than everybody else and apparently it worked.” Lawler said.

The prize for the winner is bragging rights for at least a year.

“It’s kind of a sense of pride,” Jones said.

Thirty-four sauces were selected for the statewide competition. The Alabama Tourism Department hopes it will give better recognition to the popularity of barbecue in the state.