I get asked all the time to try new sauces and rubs and to even advise companies on how to get their product to market. A little over a year ago my friend Chef Ben Wilson started asking me questions about the sauce business and I am proud to be one of the first to publish a review of his product, even if he doesn’t know I am doing it
I first met Ben at Memphis in May as part of the Tucker Cooker team that we both are a part of. The first thing you learn about Ben is that he is an accomplished chef. Second interesting barbecue factoid about Ben you quickly learn is that he has lived in both Kansas City and Memphis. So right from the jump you know that Ben does indeed know barbecue and has a great reverence for it. I will vouch for him, he is one heck of a chef and an even better barbecue pitmaster.
Since that first meeting Ben and I have spend many hours on Facebook chatting, exchanging ideas and he sent me samples along the way requesting input. Ben has always maintained his own voice throughout the development process and I like that very much about him. Taking advice from those that walked down the path before you is one thing, but always walking to your own cadence and taking side alleys occasionally is essential to ensuring the end product is what you, the creator, intended.
During one of the chat sessions I remember us having was when he was tossing product names back and forth trying to find the right tone. He mentioned 5 or 6 and I countered with another 4 or 5. It wasn’t long that one of us combined one from each side and viola Q-Bones was the working title. It survived throughout the process and made final cut.
I am proud for Ben because I know what a long road this has been for him. Ben is a great guy, excellent chef, entrepreneur and an excellent family man. Friends like Ben are a rare find and I am glad to call him my friend.So all of that said you must be thinking there is no way that Shane will now be fair, comprehensive or honest in his review of anything Ben does. To the contrary, nothing is further from the truth. I call them like I see them and I did so each time Ben asked me directly for advice. So with that here is my 5 minute take on Q-Bones Chipotle barbecue sauce.
The first thing you will notice is that Ben obviously spent a lot of time on his logo and product packaging. It’s smart, fun and welcoming. It is a touch busy but since he kept the use of color down and contrast high it is a very readable label. So a solid thumbs up on that part. My only fear is that the package is so polished it may almost be off putting to some competition folks who are more used to a “mom and pop / small company” feel to the products they are using to compete with. That isn’t so much a negative as I imagine Ben’s focus is more the Whole Food’s crowd while maintaining his barbecue sensibility. All in all great bottle and logo.
The Nose Knows
Right away when you open Q-Bones Chipotle you get a nice sweet nose with a hint of tamarind to it. It doesn’t smell overly spicy or overly sweet. It does have a background note of smoke to it as well. Overall pleasing to the sniffer.
Pour Me Out
I poured some sauce on a white plate. You will notice VERY quickly that this is a THICK sauce. In fact the picture above was taken about 5 minutes after the initial pour and you can see how it maintained its initial shape with almost no expansion. This sauce will stay put wherever you put it. That is both a positive and a negative depending on what you are using it for.
Upon very close inspection you can see some black pepper flakes in the sauce, but there isn’t a lot of spices that are overly large here. It is a well blended sauce.
Pow Right In The Kisser
Next I tasted the sauce straight up. I have to say after looking at it on a plate looks are quite deceiving. I honestly didn’t expect, or even remember, this sauce being spicy but it is. I for one am glad! I’m so tired of the word Chipotle being included in everything and never tasting it or getting any heat from it. You certainly do here with Q-Bones. In fact the heat factor in this sauce rivals the “hot” version of our sauce that I have yet to release. So if you like some heat in your barbecue sauce this one is for you.
In addition to the heat (which isn’t over powering, but solidly present) you get some nice bold, round flavors and some smoke. Ben spent a long time really getting these flavors right. This is a sauce that stood up to the fattiest pork sandwich I put it on as well as a hamburger that was loaded with cheddar cheese. This sauce was a bold and unapologetic guest to whatever party I included it in.
Q-Bones Chipotle manages to be a contender and not an also ran like so many other sauces out there. I really like it and even find myself loading a sandwich with it just to see if I can make my nose run from the heat. For the record…I can
Go pick you some up as soon as it becomes available! Q-Bones also has a regular barbecue sauce and a mustard sauce soon to be released. All of which will be a great addition to your sauce cabinet!
Love, Peace and Pork Grease!