During my recent trip to Zestfest, I was privileged to try a lot of new products from the 100+ vendors that attended the show in Irving, TX.
One of those vendors was Volcanic Peppers from Omaha, Nebraska. I had an opportunity to spend some time with Tim Bader, owner and creative genius behind the recipes, products, and spicy goodness at Volcanic Peppers.
Tim gave me the nickel tour of his product line, a nice lineup of dried peppers and pepper blends. He even won a golden chile award for his Volcano Dust 2 product; a nice, hot blend of ground peppers and spices. And he also came to the show packing a new product called “Lava Hot Scorpion BBQ Sauce”! And that’s why I’m writing you today. Tim gave me a bottle to take home to Louisiana and try out. After trying it on a batch of chicken wings, and some various lunchmeats I had in the fridge, what follows is my review of Volcanic Pepper’s “LAVA Hot Scorpion BBQ Sauce”.
Ingredients: Ketchup, Molasses, Brown Sugar, Apple Cider Vinegar, Mustard, Water, Honey, Smoked Habanero, Trinidad Scorpion, Bhut Jolokia, Moruga Scorpion, Salt, Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Black Pepper, Cumin
Texture/Appearance: – This is a nice looking BBQ sauce, with a dark reddish brown hue and a smooth, almost creamy, texture. There’s no discernable “chunks” of anything noticeable, and you don’t feel any type of grittiness from the pepper or spices when tasting. It is a fairly thick sauce, and it coated my chicken wings nicely, and did a good job staying on the wings and not running off, like many other sauces.
Taste/Flavor Straight Up: – This is an excellent tasting BBQ sauce. Volcanic Peppers has done a very good job creating a great balance of flavor between smoky, sweet, tangy, smooth, and zesty! It is a complex flavor blend, allowing the molasses and smoked habanero to provide the mild smokiness that is noticeable when you smell the sauce and as one of the “middle” layer flavors. The front end layer provides a very subtle, earthy sweetness (thanks Cousin Ketchup, Mr. Molasses and Miss Brown Sugar!) and the flavor train caboose gives the taster a lingering smooth sweetness that is ever so slightly noticeable on the back end, courtesy of a swarm of very good natured honey bees! The mustard and Apple Cider Vinegar pair up nicely as the “Zesty Twins”, whose presence is known almost immediately, and felt in the beginning and middle of this taste bud titillating experience. Their pal, Cumin, helps to fill in whatever gap that may have existed between sweet, smoky, and zesty. And of course, the house band trio of salt, onion powder, and garlic powder rocks out the experience, providing familiar profiles and a down-home, earthy, comfortable feel. But what about the peppers? With four different types of peppers (yep, count ‘em! Four! Quatros! Fier!) in the sauce, one can imagine the citrusy, smoky, straight forward flavors they bring to the table! Not to mention the heat!
Heat Level: – Speaking of heat, this is one HOT mother of a BBQ sauce!!! I found it hot, and I’m one who can’t seem to eat a meal that hasn’t been “altered” to accommodate my heat craving palate! The four different peppers that Volcanic Peppers has chosen (Smoked Habanero, Trinidad Scorpion, Bhut Jolokia, and Moruga Scorpion) work nicely together and bring a powerhouse of layered heat and flavor to the endorphin party. Great choices! The smoked habanero creates a medium front and middle heat and the quickly building triple punch back end heat of the two Scorpions and the Jolokia let you know that this is NOT a BBQ sauce for wimps!
Label / Graphics: – I really like Volcanic Peppers logo, so I’d like to see it a little larger on the label. And I liked the color choices for the label. The black text of the Hot Scorpion BBQ Sauce against the dark reddish brown background makes it a little challenging to see, even being outlined in white. But I really liked the LAVA with the rocky looking font and flames, and the volcano and river of molten lava make a nice visual. Finally, the scorpions are a nice touch, if a bit pedestrian in appearance. It would be cool to see a more stylized, and “hipper” looking scorpion graphic, if indeed one is needed at all.
Overall Rating / Final Thoughts: – This is a very, very good BBQ sauce! I loved it, and everyone I have persuaded to try it (I hang out with too many non-chileheads!) loved the flavor, texture, and yes, even the heat. They would suck in air while saying, “Wow, that’s really good! Way hot…..but very good!” It was dynamite on chicken wings that I baked (yes, I know, I still need a grill. I am supposed to buy a new charcoal grill this week!) and I will grieve when the bottle is empty. If you are looking for a nice, complex, pleasing to the palate, really hot BBQ sauce, look no further than Volcanic Peppers Hot Scorpion BBQ Sauce. Tim Bader and crew in Omaha might be better known for their dried pepper and spice blends, but they enter the hot BBQ sauce world with an outstanding product! Well done!!
About the Company: Volcanic Peppers is an Omaha, Nebraska based company providing fresh chile peppers to locals including a variety of habanero, cayenne and the famous ghost or bhut jolokia peppers. We also create several blends of chile powder including Volcano Dust ™ which is a combination of several dried and or smoked peppers. Volcanic Peppers strives to provide the highest quality and freshest products to you. Please enjoy responsibly as all products sold by Volcanic Peppers are hot.
About the author: Ken Alexander is a self-proclaimed Chilehead with a love of spicy food, hot sauce, and the zest of life. Ken lives in Baton Rouge, LA, in the heart of Cajun Food country, and enjoys experiencing new tastes and flavors from all over the world. He is a staff reviewer and festival reporter for I Love it Spicy and a regular contributor to Hot Sauce Daily. Ken also likes long walks in the park, puppies, unicorns, and hopes for world peace.