Punk’s Gourmet Pepper Sauce Review

Punk’s Gourmet Pepper Sauce is aptly named. I wouldn’t call it a hot sauce per se. Sweet, savory and slightly spicy, this very pourable sauce is more of a condiment than a hot sauce. It really is a pepper sauce of sorts. Available in big 12 ounce bottles, there are 2 versions, Mild and Smok’n.

Punk's Gourmet Pepper Sauce Twins

Punk’s Gourmet Pepper Sauce in Mild & Smok’n flavors

Ingredients: peppers, onion, vinegar, tomatoes, dark brown sugar, water, lemon juice, liquid smoke, garlic powder, paprika

The Mild and Smok’n both share the exact same list of ingredients, so I’ll assume the Smok’n version has a bit more of the “peppers” in it. Speaking of the “peppers” ingredient, when I pressed Punk himself, Marty Crews, he did divulge the blend of chiles that he uses. It’s an impressive short list of delicious and popular peppers, with one odd-ball exception. But I’m sworn to secrecy, so at this time it’s still his secret. I thought the chiles used were very close to the sweet Datil pepper out of Florida, but I was wrong. There are no Datil peppers in this sauce. 😉

Texture and Appearance:

punks gourmet pepper sauce mild sample

Punk’s Mild is dark, sweet, and savory

While not exactly a spectacular looking sauce, it is impressive in its body and cling factor. Just shy of medium thick, there are bits of ingredients that add a slight, yet tiny chunkiness to the look and feel. There’s a reddish-brown color to it that falls in between a catsup and barbecue sauce color. I know that’s vague, but it just doesn’t have a super unique look to it, and so the pictures will have to do.

Punk's Mild Pepper Sauce close up

Punk’s Mild Pepper Sauce close up


Aroma? Sweet. Vinegar. Tomato. Those are the first things I smell in this sauce.

First taste? Sweet. Vinegar. Tomato. Yup! It’s consistent. A light, spicy heat follows… just barely singeing the tip of my tongue. I’ve tried so hard to avoid comparing Punk*s to a spicy ketchup, but the strong condiment profile is just too much to pass up.

THIS IS NOT A SPICY KETCHUP by any means. Perhaps it’s the dominant tomato flavor and consistency, but it is very much thinner than ketchup. Think more of a traditional taco sauce taste and flavor, kick it up 80% in flavor, and that’s what Punk*s tastes like to me. Only better.

With such a simple list of ingredients, hell, it even begins to look like what you might find in a BBQ sauce too. We’ve not grilled with it yet, but that is a future plan. I know Marty has posted a few grilling meals using his Punk*s sauce on his Facebook page.

And while we’re talking grilling with Punk*s, let’s address the “liquid smoke” ingredient. I know it’s controversial in the BBQ world, especially in BBQ sauces, but let’s face reality folks… liquid smoke is just that… smoke collected from, well, smoke and allowed to drip down and be collected in it’s condensed liquid form. It’s not man-made. It’s all natural. Folks either like it or not. I happen to think it’s usually a nice addition to sauces, BBQ or otherwise – as long as it’s not TOO strong or predominant. Punk*s keeps it light.

Finally, the mouth feel is delicious. The tiny bits and chunks add a nice texture, and the sweet brown sugar makes it very satisfying.

Heat Level:

Mild: Rated 1 out of 5 Stars – With a big enough slurp off the spoon, I can manage a slight sweat on the top of my head. The peppers add just enough heat to keep this sauce in the mild category, while delivering a huge amount of flavor.

Smok’n: Rated 2 out of 5 Stars – Remarkably, Punk*s has kept the same sweet, delicious flavor in the Smok’n version, adding only more heat.

Punks Gourmet Pepper Sauce Smokn sample

Punks Gourmet Pepper Sauce Smok’n sample

Most sauces that shoot for a spicier version than the original somehow change the flavor profile slightly. Not so here. While I’ve given it only 1 more star for heat, the Smok’n is just not up in the 2.5 star range. I actually like that. A strong mild-medium heat from the Smok’n is perfect for this sauce and its flavor profile.


While I’m not normally a fan of many cartoon-like labels, in this case it just works. The label is simple, clean, and you know what you’re getting.

The large 12 ounce wide mouth bottle, more than twice the size of 5 oz bottles of most hot sauces, makes for a great package.

Punk's Gourmet Pepper Sauce Zip Strip

Punk’s Gourmet Pepper Sauce Zip Strip

Also, kudos to Punk*s for the easy-open top. A zip strip surrounds the lid making for a quick and easy opening. Yes, these little touches mean a lot to us reviewers.

Final thoughts:

I’ve dipped french fries and mozzarella sticks in it – superb! And I’ve tried it on pizza – perfect!


Punk*s Smok’n on Pizza rocks!

This was one of the most fun, yet difficult reviews I’ve had to write in awhile, as Punk*s Gourmet Pepper Sauce is so hard to describe and categorize. Also, please note the unusual nomenclature in Punk*s name – an asterisk (*) replaces the apostrophe () in Punk*s, and Smokin’ is now Smok’n – very unusual spellin’s indeed!

Overall Rating: Rated 5 out of 5 Stars – Yes, it’s a 5 Star sauce – our top rating!

Punk*s Gourmet Pepper Sauce is one of the best products I’ve tried so far in 2012, and could easily make it into my Top 10 list for 2012.

Punk*s Gourmet Pepper Sauce in big 12 ounce bottles can be found at PunkThisNow.com.

You can “Like” them on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/PunkThisNow

Disclaimer: We received this product courtesy of the manufacturer for review.

NW Elixirs #1 Hott Sauce and #2 Verde Hott Sauces

We’re kicking off the New Year with a review of a new company – NW Elixirs from Portland, Oregon. Created by Chef Andrew Garrett and waiter Mitch Miller, NW Elixirs launched their first sauce, #1 Hott Sauce, in September of 2011. This was followed quickly by their second offering, #2 Verde Hott. (Sources tell me their #3 Smoky Hott is getting great pre-release feedback. Stay tuned for that review in the near future).

NW Elixirs Hot Sauces

NW Elixirs Hot Sauces 1 & 2

[Read more…]

Hak’s BBQ Sauce Chipotle Bourbon Review

Hak’s BBQ Sauce: A gourmet, gentleman’s BBQ sauce. Sweet and tangy flavors hit first, then caramelized onion and garlic. Finally a smack of bourbon and smoked and roasted chiles round things out. You’ve just had a mouthful of Hak’s Chipotle Bourbon BBQ Sauce!

It brought “secret weapon” heat to the competition, earned praise from some of the toughest food critics around and satisfied a room of hungry truckers – and now anyone can take home reality cooking star Sharone Hakman’s smoky, smooth and sophisticated BBQ sauce. Hak’s BBQ Sauce, a premium all-natural sauce line developed by the self-taught Hakman, who was a finalist on the first season of FOX’s hit culinary competition series MasterChef and whose refined sauces were praised throughout the competition, are now available to the public.

Hak's BBQ Sauce Chipotle Bourbon Flask Bottle

Hak's BBQ Sauce comes in a beautiful 12 oz flask bottle

We are honored to be among the first to review this delicious gourmet BBQ Sauce for you. Wait until you see our pics of this gourmet sauce in action. Read on please…

[Read more…]

JakeAlberts Fuego Rojo and
Fuego Azul Sauce Review

We met our newest Canadian friend Jay Calvert at the Weekend of Fire in Ohio, and he was packing – his Fuego Rojo and Fuego Azul sauces that is – from JakeAlberts.com. We had a chance to put these gourmet sauces to the test recently.

First off, they come packaged in beautiful six-sided 8.8 oz (250ml) bottles with a simple front label logo. On the back of each bottle are suggested uses, and a link to JakeAlberts.com to find out more about the sauces and the company.

Scott Roberts did a great job reviewing the Rojo and the Azul, both on ice cream, waffles, toast etc. As these are Scovie Award Winning Dessert Sauces, Scott’s reviews were fitting and a great read.
But we wanted to take them to the “glaze” level, brushing them on chicken parts and MOINK Balls (If you have to ask, click the link!) to get a taste of them on meat.

First up is the Fuego Rojo.

This is a pomegranate habanero sauce that is sticky-sweet-hot right out of the bottle. Here’s a view of the rouge goodness:

Fuego Rojo poured onto spoon

Brian: The Rojo is the thinner of the two sauces. To me it has a pourable pepper-jelly flavor. But this is not a sauce to be had straight out of the bottle. It needs to be brushed onto a meat for a last minute glaze.

Marilyn: I see and taste a thin, honey flavored syrup – with some heat. I would try this in tea for a sweet, spicy brew. It is very sweet, with just a bit of heat. Nothing so hot as to call it a hot sauce.

We grilled up some simply seasoned wings and some MOINK Balls, then we glazed the meats near the end of the cooking process:

Fuego Rojo on wings and MOINK balls

Brian: All I can say is the Rojo on the wings was just not strong enough to carry much flavor beyond a sweet, sticky glaze. However it did shine on the the MOINK balls. Those puppies were made for such a sweet spicy sticky glaze – maybe the fat in the bacon and the beef meatball really paired well with the Rojo, compared to the chicken wings. These were candied, slightly spicy and delicious.

Marilyn: I agree – the Rojo sauce is just not strong enough to stand up to the seasoned wings. I like my wings with much more gusto – flavor, heat, thickness, etc. The MOINK balls were much better than the chicken. I first soaked the MOINK balls in the Rojo, but they were still a little sweet for me. My favorite result came when I took the MOINK balls for a quick dip, then let them set on a plate to soak up the goodness, leaving a bare coating on the outside, but lots of flavor infused. These was my favorite use of the Rojo on meat… a little sweet, a nice heat, and a great flavor throughout.

Fuego Rojo Ingredients: Fair Trade Certified Organic Cane Sugar, low temperature extraction Pomegranate Concentrate, 100% Canadian Honey, Fresh Orange Habanero Peppers, Spring Water. (refrigerate after opening)

Next up was the Fuego Azul

JakeAlberts.com newest gourmet sauce – a Blueberry Habanero Sauce:

Fuego Azul poured onto spoon

Again we’re glazing some wings and MOINK Balls right on the grill, and here’s how they turned out:

Fuego Azul on wings and MOINK balls

Brian: Again, we had some wings that looked great! But the sauce, even though it was much thicker with a stronger overall flavor, just was not what I like on my wings. As for the MOINK balls, this thicker Azul sauce was much better than the Rojo. It was thicker, sticker, and I think much stronger in flavor, both from the blueberry and the heat of the habenero. My favorite of the two sauces here.

Marilyn: I’m sorry, but blueberry does not belong on my wings. Yes, it was thicker and had more body than the Rojo, but I liked the flavor of the pomegranate better. On the MOINK balls, again, my favorite flavor involved a quick dip, a few minutes sitting and soaking. Since I’m a huge fan of hot dogs with grape jelly (childhood favorite, sweet & savory), I’m trying this next on a grilled hot dog! The Azul has a much denser, thicker texture, but for grilling meats, my vote is for the Rojo with its pomegranate flavor profile as my favorite of the two sauces.

Fuego Azul Ingredients: Fair Trade Certified Organic Cane Sugar, spring water, low temperature extraction Wild Blueberry Concentrate, 100% Canadian Honey, Fresh Habanero Peppers. (refrigerate after opening), Peanut and Gluten free

Now for the Ice Cream Test!

Finally, we can’t let these sauces go without trying them on ice cream in order to experience the dessert goodness that they have won the Scovies for. Bring on the Vanilla creaminess!

Brian: I’m sorry, but I’m a purist. I like my hot sauces. I like my desserts. I don’t want the “twain to meet”. I’ve never been a fan of “dessert sauces” and this ice cream experiment reaffirms my preferences. (And I just started 5 sentences in a row with “I”… guess Reader’s Digest will pass me by once again!). Back to the sauces on ice cream – there was a burn in the back of my throat while eating the ice cream. More pronounced with the Rojo, less so with the Azul. And I just don’t like the combination of a pepper burn with sweet foods. When it comes to dessert sauces poured on perfectly good sweet foods, I’m OUT!

Marilyn: The Rojo is like a combination of strawberry syrup and caramel with a honey aftertaste. It’s very thin, and the heat stays a few minutes, but it’s not a killer heat. The Azul is very thick when cold – like King Syrup for your Easterners or honey for the rest of you. It definitely has a lot of blueberry, with a bit of heat that lingers in your mouth. But, I’m also not a fan of dessert sauces -although I do prefer the blueberry Azul on the ice cream over the Rojo, since I LOVE blueberry anything. Give me the Rojo soaked into meats, and the Azul for my desserts. Both are made with the freshest ingredients, so you won’t get any HFC’s here. Kudos to Jay for keeping his sauces honest and fresh!

Keep in mind that these are indeed Gourmet Sauces with Gourmet Prices. At about $10 US per bottle and shipping from Canada at almost $10 each, these are for the true Gourmand or as a special gift to the husband/wife who just loves to try new, exotic sauces.
We can recommend them as special gift packs or special occasion sauces to experiment with.

Listen to our interview with Jay Calvert of JakeAlberts.com on our HotSauceWeekly.com podcast. Click the player below.

Fire Ant Juice
Gourmet Hot Sauce

Fire Ant Juice from Tropical Island Gourmet Company http://www.fireantjuice.com is offering a free bottle of Hobo Howey’s Jalapeno Treats with any order until the end of August 2010. Read on to find out how you can get yours!

This sauce rocks! I think the name “Fire Ant Juice” is funny, and the graphics on the label are a hoot. I know “fire ants” are a species, but Fire Ant Juice reminds me of when I was a kid and there were ants, and I had a magnifying glass…. oops! Sorry PETA, I digress.

This sauce has a lot of body and doesn’t run when you pour it out. It’s slightly chunky with bits of jalapenos, onions, and garlic. Very fine bits. And it holds its shape even after 20 mins on the plate.

Marilyn and I tried this sauce first on a spoon, then on tortilla chips, then on tacos.

When we poured some onto a spoon, it was hot. HOT. But after a few sips, the initial heat went away and we were able to discern its qualities better.

We then tried it on some chips to get the flavor:

Marilyn: I tasted the cayenne first, with a big hit of the roasted garlic. The mango smoothed it out a little for me, making it a very savory taste with a nice bite of heat.
Brian: I like the habanero profile – very unique with the mango. Hot, sweet, and very spicy – the garlic and salt really rounded it all out for me – and I love the roasted garlic in it.

Fire Ant Juice has plenty of heat with great flavor – on a scale of 1 – 10, we’d put it at an 8. But the flavor is what won us over.

Then we poured a lot onto some tacos made with our own taco seasoning.

Fire Ant Juice Gourmet Hot Sauce Ingredients:
cayenne peppers, jalapeno peppers, habanero peppers, onions, vinegar, mango juice, tomatoes, roasted garlic, salt

As you can see from the simple list of ingredients, there are no added sugars, no “parentheses” listing preservatives or the popular “xanthan gum” etc, … in other words it’s a straight-up gourmet hot sauce done right.
Fire Ant Juice Gourmet Hot Sauce is a keeper that we will have on hand at all times. We think you’ll love it as much as we do.

To get a free bottle of Hobo Howey’s Jalapeno Treats, just place an order with FireAntJuice.com and in the comments section of your order, enter “Hot Sauce Daily” or “Hot Sauce Weekly” – owner Wayne Howey will take care of you!
Offer good thru the end of August 2010.

And be sure and check out Wayne’s newest creation, Fire Ant Bite Jalapeno Sauce and his other products!

Update: Brian had the pleasure of interviewing Chef Wayne for the HotSauceWeekly.com Podcast. Check it out here: http://hotsauceweekly.com/hsw-024-fire-ant-juice/

Ordering: Click on this link to get you some of this awesome sauce!