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Pitmasters to open unique barbecue retail store in Billings

Store offers takeout once a week and will host cooking classes
Ty slicing up some ribs
Posted at 5:45 PM, Feb 23, 2024

BILLINGS — Coming soon to Billings: a unique concept. Montana Outlaw BBQ is a longtime father-son pitmaster competition duo based out of Columbus who have now turned their passion into a business, the Montana Barbeque Pro Shop.

"We had a hardware store in Columbus, and we were actually one of the first Traeger dealers in Montana,” said Rick Hamilton, one of the pitmasters, on Friday.

Rick Hamilton
Rick Hamilton

Back in the late '90s, the Hamilton family was busy at work at their Columbus Ace Hardware store.

"I thought I was going to retire when we sold the hardware store,” Hamilton said. "My wife and I both just missed interaction with people."

Father and son Rick and Ty Hamilton have always worked in close proximity. After their hardware store days, they decided to try something new.

Rick (right) and Ty (left) Hamilton
Rick (right) and Ty (left) Hamilton

"Our first competition was in 2008. And then we kind of dabbled in the amateur barbecue world until probably about 2015 or so," Ty said on Friday. "2016, we decided to kind of dive into the professional barbecue side of things."

Ty Hamilton
Ty Hamilton

They dove headfirst into the world of barbecue.

"We just really have a passion for barbecue. Really have a passion to kind of just spread that word that this is a really great way to cook,” said Ty. "We really enjoy it and make sure people have the tools to go out and do it at home."

For years, the team competed across the country, bringing home loads of hardware.

Fresh-smoked ribs
Fresh-smoked ribs

"We’ve competed from Seattle to Washington, D.C. We compete a lot in Tennessee and Kentucky. We won in all those areas so we’ve had a lot of success,” Rick said. (We're) reserve world champions."

Now they’re bringing their knowledge to Billings.

"We want to make sure that we can help people find out what their perfect bite of barbecue is and how they produce that at home,” Ty said. "Just trying to build a larger barbecue community. And bring that into the Billings area with hopes to maybe expand it beyond Billings as well."

The Montana Barbeque Pro Shop is set to open this May at 109 N. 35th St.

Outside of the Montana Barbeque Pro Shop
Outside of the Montana Barbeque Pro Shop

The store will offer cooking classes, a space for events, and more.

"What we have are going to be all top-quality products from people that we know, people that we’ve worked with, people that we’ve competed with. We’re going to offer monthly classes. A lot of those classes are going to be free to attend,” Ty said. "We have one coming up March 10 on pastrami and so we’ll show you that process start to finish. Get the emails and that way you can stay up to date on when we’re having classes, when we’re going to have specials, when we’re going to be doing stuff like that."

The duo has their own line of spice rubs that are sold in more than 4,000 stores across the country. They are available for purchase at the Montana Barbeque Pro Shop along with a collection of other spices and rubs.

Montana Outlaw BBQ rubs
Montana Outlaw BBQ rubs

Currently, on Fridays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., takeout orders are available for pick up. Orders should be placed on Thursday by noon.

"If you’re on your way home on a Friday afternoon and you don’t want to cook, you can either pre-order or take a chance with what we have. We’ll sell it until we sell out,” Rick said. "We usually have brisket, burnt ends, ribs, and pulled pork to choose from. It’s on our webpage."

Their customers are grateful for the variety and the opportunity to learn from the pros.

"I can't wait for their classes to be available. Because that's one thing, I don't use a smoker a lot, so I'm looking forward to Ty and the crew giving me some tips," said Tim Mascarena, a customer picking up an order on Friday. "I just feel like we're so lucky (having their) world-class barbecue here in Billings. Just all the supplies and stuff they have here, there's not going to be an excuse to not cook some good barbecue."

Tim Mascarena
Tim Mascarena

The Hamiltons are eager to share their knowledge.

"When they take a bite of your barbecue and you see that look on their face, like, ‘I’ve never tasted barbecue quite like this.’ And that’s the reward by itself,” Rick said. "Watch our YouTube channel videos or come in. We’ll share it with you. We have no problems sharing what we know."

Ribs on the smoker
Ribs on the smoker

"Montana doesn’t have a barbecue identity. You know, we have a steak identity, everybody likes steak up here. But we don’t have a barbecue identity," Ty added. "And so what we’re able to do because we’ve traveled so many places across the country, met a lot of people, tried a lot of barbecue from all across. We can bring regionality to our barbecue."

To learn more about the Montana Barbeque Pro Shop, click here.

To learn more about Montana Outlaw BBQ, click here.