BBQ Smokehouse Catering has a pretty quick and simple page for guidelines on the different types:
Texas Style: The State where beef is king and brisket is the crown prince. Beef ribs aren’t bad either. Texans like their barbecue “naked”, or with side sauces that tend to be a blend of tomato thinned with vinegar and Worcestershire. They are the least sweet of the tomato based sauces.
Memphis Style: Memphis style barbecue is known for wet marinated pork ribs that are also basted while smoking. Another style of ribs is to apply dry rub during or right after they’ve been cooked. Pork shoulders, and butts are done the same way. Mild, sweet and spicy rubs, as well as mopping sauces, are basted on periodically during cooking. Want more about Memphis style barbecue? Check out Memphis: The Great BBQ Debate.
Kansas City Style: This is where southern barbecue influences are artfully combined with Western Beef and Pork. The meat is liberally seasoned with savory spices, sweet rubs and sauces then smoked in a hickory-stoked pit for hours.
Thick and sticky sweet sauces are slathered onto pork ribs and tangy briskets. You can learn more about Kansas City barbecue at www.experiencekc.com
Carolina Style: The State that’s gone whole hog over barbecue. More signs with dancing pink pigs are found here than anywhere else! Pig pickin’s and pulled pork are mixed with thin vinegar based sauces to make an incredibly flavorful and juicy barbecue! (You can tell its one of my favorites.)
Sauce variations are heavily laced with secret spice blends of salt, pepper, red pepper, cayenne pepper, onion powder, garlic, nutmeg, molasses, whiskey, and brown sugar.
We favor the Eastern variety of North Carolina sauce. The Western North Carolina sauce has a wee little bit of tomato in it, and for me, its not as distinctive as Eastern. You can learn about North Carolina barbecue at www.nctravel.com.
South Carolina style barbecue sauce contains mustard, which was first added by the large contingent of Germans colonists that were among the first Europeans to settle there.