Hey folks it’s time for installment number two in my review series of the Intensity Academy line of products. If you missed last week’s review and want the full story on how this series came to be check our my review of their Garlic Goodness sauce. Don’t worry this week’s review will be much more concise and to the point since I won’t be retelling the full back story of me meeting Tom Was at the Houston Hot Sauce Festival.
On my way out the door I threw Intensity Academy’s Chai Chipotle Hot Sauce in my backpack since I was taking some pulled pork sandwiches to work for lunch. I wanted something that would complement the pulled pork and completely overrun it with heat. I figured based on the name “Chai Chipotle” that I would be fairly safe on the heat front.
The first interesting thing I noticed about this sauce was right there on the label above the name “All Natural Carrot Based Hot Sauce.” Now being a bit new to the hot sauce world I knew that some hot sauces use carrots for a sweetener and for color, but I thought it was interesting that this sauce was celebrating the carrot so to speak.
Before I knew it, it was lunch time and time to break the seal on the bottle and get down to business. As always I started with the sniff test. The first thing you get is definitely a full bodied note of carrots. It’s almost a fruity note. It smells very fresh if not refreshing. There is some vinegar there, but its a light back drop vice being in the forefront.
Next came the plate test and the finger taste test. Chai Chipotle is neither what I would consider thick nor would I call it thin. It definitely has some pureed carrots and a few flecks of habanero in there. It’s a fairly tame and non complicated looking sauce. If anything it’s lighter color and lack of variation is the story. This sauce is what it portends to be, a carrot based hot sauce.
For the initial taste test I put a fair amount on my finger and gave it the ole college try. At first you get hit by habaneros which kind of surprised me because given the name I was expecting that smokey mellow heat of the chipotles up front. Don’t get me wrong I wouldn’t call this sauce hot, because it’s not. In fact I would only give it a rating of about 1.75 to 2 on my heat scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being too hot for me to enjoy. This sauce has some heat and the habanero and chipotle are both there, but they are not searing or unpleasant in anyway. The surprise for me was more from my preconceived notion of what I thought I would taste heat wise. This of course caused me to grab the bottle and check the ingredients list. Sure enough chipotle is towards the middle of the list versus at the top of heap, which explains its background note instead of the foreground spotlight.
As for what else I tasted you definitely get carrots. A very nice fragrant and fruity full bodied carrot sweet flavor is front and center. It is followed up with the chipotle smokiness that adds to the body. And just when you start wondering where the Chai flavor is, you get it right there as part of the ending body note.
By this time I was hungry and it was time to load some on my sandwich and see how Chai Chipotle was on something better than my finger. As you can see from the picture I did not hold back or shy away. I wasn’t afraid of the heat element of Chai Chipotle at all. This sauce is much more about flavor than heat. I will admit that by the end of the second sammich (that’s right sammich, not sandwich… that’s how we roll here in the South) I was sniffling a tiny bit. The sauce added a nice body to the pulled pork but in no way over powered it. The smoke was not over shadowed by the vinegar tang or the heat in anyway. While I am thinking of it one other surprising thing about this sauce is how much of a background note the vinegar is in Chai Chipotle. I am so used to most sauces being nothing but peppers, vinegar and water that when that is not the overall flavor make up of a sauce it catches me off guard a bit. Part of me thinks perhaps the sauce could have a bit more vinegar kick, but this sauce would be PERFECT for someone who doesn’t like that hyper vinegar hit that most hot sauces have as their predominant element.
The following morning I was eating a Jimmy Dean breakfast sandwich that consisted of a sausage patty and egg whites on a croissant. As soon as I took the first bite I thought “hmm I bet this would be better with some of that Chai Chipotle sauce on it.” So I tried it. And sure enough it was PERFECT. Great flavor and just a touch of heat. That is my problem with some hot sauces I use for breakfast they are just too strong for me in the mornings and my tongue just isn’t ready for them more times than not.
So what’s the final verdict? Well, it’s another solid offering from Intensity Academy. Not a thing wrong with this sauce. It might not be my personal “go to” sauce to put on everything, but I can see why it would be for other people and it will be on my breakfast table from here forward. It’s a unique sauce in that it strives to be a right down the middle honest offering. Not too hot, solid fruity sweetness with full bodied flavors and a nice medium consistency. If you are looking for a non offensive sauce to perhaps start someone on their path to becoming a chilehead, Chai Chipotle could very well be that gateway drug you are looking for.
Until next time folks….Love, Peace and Pork Grease!