Everyone in the state of Alabama knows that loyalty to your favorite local barbecue joint is as strong and undeniable as hickory smoke. Over the past few years, we’ve created brackets, polled social media and listened closely to answers to the ever-important question, “Whose ’cue is best?”

This year, in honor of the Year of Alabama BBQ, we’re trying something a little different. We’ve already declared war against neighboring states, proudly making our claim that Alabama is the barbecue capital of the South. We’ve also tapped the inaugural class of the Alabama Barbecue Hall of Fame. But we still need to figure out which shop makes the best smoked meat, sauce and sides – according to you, the locals.

Enter The Alabama Barbecue Battle. We’re throwing down the gauntlet and challenging barbecue fans across the state to vote, vote, vote for their favorite restaurant in five categories: Rookies, Legends, Multi-Locations, Mom and Pops, and Dives. Voting is open from now until August 31, and the overall winners from each category will be announced Tuesday, Sept. 1.

We’re encouraging restaurants and fans alike to keep the battle heated by sharing on social media and voting daily to support your favorites. The site will show votes in real time, so you never have to wonder if your favorite is far from the top.

It’s time to let your ’cue loyalties be known – VOTE NOW in The Alabama Barbecue Battle!

Check out the contenders in each category:

The Legends
Archibald’s, Northport
Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q, Decatur
Big Daddy’s Bar-B-Q, Warrior
Bob Sykes BarB-Q, Bessemer
Dreamland Bar-B-Que, Tuscaloosa
Golden Rule Bar-B-Q, Irondale
Green Top Bar-B-Q, Dora
Rodgers BBQ, Saraland
Lannie’s Bar-B-Q, Selma
The Brick Pit, Mobile

The Rookies
306 Barbecue, Athens
Cotton State BBQ, Mobile
Hickory Barn BBQ, Athens
Hog Wild BBQ, Gulf Shores
Hoo’s Q, Tuscaloosa
Landmark BBQ, Margaret
Little Bit of R&R BBQ, Leeds
Saw’s BBQ, Birmingham
Smokey C’s Bar-B-Que & Wings, Decatur
Smokin’ on the Boulevard, Florence

Multi-Location
Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q, Decatur
Dreamland Bar-B-Que, Tuscaloosa
Full Moon Bar-B-Que, Birmingham
Golden Rule Bar-B-Q, Irondale
Jim ’N Nick’s, Birmingham
LawLers Barbecue, Athens
Mike & Ed’s BBQ, Phenix City
Moe’s Original Bar B Que, Orange Beach
Saw’s BBQ, Birmingham
Whitts Barbecue, Decatur

The Mom and Pops
Archibald’s, Northport
Big Daddy’s Real Pit BBQ, Enterprise
Bob Sykes BarB-Q, Bessemer
Green Top Bar-B-Q, Dora
Johnny’s Bar-B-Q, Cullman
L.A. Barbecue, Summerdale
Miss Myra’s Pit Bar-B-Q, Birmingham
Rusty’s Bar-B-Q, Leeds
Sam’s Bar-B-Q, Montgomery
The Brick Pit, Mobile

The Dives
Archibald & Woodrow’s BBQ, Tuscaloosa
Charlie’s BBQ, Odenville
Dale’s BBQ, Boaz
Hickory Barn BBQ, Athens
Jim’s Hwy 82 Barbecue, Billingsley
Ken’s BBQ, Birmingham
Miss Myra’s Pit Bar-B-Q, Birmingham
Smokin’ on the Boulevard, Florence
The Brick Pit, Mobile
Top Hat Barbecue, Hayden

The views expressed here are those of the author.