Hop Sauce?

LOGO1Traditionally, beer has been used as a supplementary ingredient. At Voodoo Chile, we fully deconstruct a beer and then craft a unique recipe around its flavor profile and nuances. We have never dropped beer into an existing recipe. Instead, we craft a totally new and unique sauce that is built specifically around each beer.


We don’t simply use beer as an ingredient, it is THE main ingredient … it is the number one ingredient by weight, it is the inspiration for the recipe, and it is — in point of fact — the consumable muse for us during the creation process!


Perhaps some light can be shed on these unique creations by repeating the answer to a question that was posed to our head sauceologist at last night’s Savor event in downtown Washington, DC: “How do you come up with these (beer) sauces?


I suppose it could be broken down into somewhat of a 4 step process, the first of which being the most “onerous” … we spend anywhere from 2 days to as much as 2 weeks, every day after the work day is done, drinking that beer. We drink one or two pints and just comment on the beer. The purpose here is the deconstruction phase where we pick apart a beer in excruciating detail, making both mental and written notes of the flavors and other impressions. Sometimes we’ll even spend time with other beer aficionados, picking their brain on what they’re enjoying most about that beer. This is where we decide what direction we are taking and which flavors we intend to showcase.


Step 2 is where the toughest work resides: finding the right ingredient mix to give the sauce some body. Given the amount of beer we typically use in beer sauce, this is a vital part of the crafting process. We have used crushed tomato, agave glazed carrot, fruit puree, and even fire roasted Italian red peppers for this.


Step 3 is the choice of peppers that will be used in the sauce. On very rare occasions we have limited ourselves to only one pepper, but those are usually recipes where the flavor profile is already so deep and busy that a multi dimensional heat delivery would get lost. Otherwise, we typically deploy anywhere between three and seven chile peppers in each recipe. We use peppers such as the Pequin to delivery quick, transient heat at the front of the palate, or the Carolina Reaper for its long fuse and long burn on the back palate. We strive to deliver multiple layers of both flavor and heat,


Step 4 is where we refine the recipe, attempting to balance the overall delivery of flavors and heat. This phase can also be very time consuming, and sometimes frustrating. Making sauce is easy, making a good sauce isn’t particularly difficult, but crafting something big, busy yet balanced is not quite as simple.



Here’s a brief run-down of some of our beer sauces:
Sauce: Fever Dream
Brewer: Flying Dog Brewery
Beer: Fever Dream
Beer Style: Mango Habanero IPA
Pepper blend: Habanero, Fatalii, Cayenne & Carolina Reaper.
Highlights: A big, fruity semi sweet front is quickly followed by a playful heat and a dry, hoppy finish! The tropical flavor of mango is complimented by a tasteful addition of Mandarin orange and peach to lend some added complexity to the first rush of flavor. Our secret blend of spices offer a subtle, but deliciously haunting, secondary layer of flavor, and the finish is big, bold & hoppy, as one should expect from a big IPA from Flying Dog.


Sauce: Beware The Sasko
Brewer: Adroit Theory Brewing Company
Beer: The Devil Made Me
Beer Style: Serrano smoked Porter.
Pepper blend: Chocolate Scotch Bonnet
Highlights: A base of agave glazed carrot and tamarind is complimented by coriander seed, lemon, cumin and toasted garlic. Above average heat for a Voodoo Chile offering, but without being abusively hot.


Sauce: Winter Angel
Brewer: Samuel Adams
Beer: Winter Lager
Beet style: Dark larger
Pepper blend: Fatalii, cayenne, habanero and Carolina Reaper.
Highlights: We accentuate the beer’s background flavors of orange, ginger and hint of cinnamon, almost to the point of exaggeration. This is a bright, complex sauce that delivers a medium, accessible heat.


Sauce: Achilles
Brewer: Crooked Run Brewing
Beer: Achilles
Beer Style: Lemon Serrano IPA.
Pepper blend: Aji Limon and yellow Fatalii
Highlights: This bright, easy to pour, and zesty sauce is especially brilliant on seafood and lighter Mexican fare! The brewer, Jake Endres, took a very active lead in outlining this sauce recipe and I’ll be the first to admit that it was somewhat intimidating having such a specific target.  While the ingredient list makes this appear to be a simple sauce, it is deceptively complex one in mouth!


Sauce: Black Ox Sauce
Brewer: Old Ox Brewery
Beer: Black Ox
Beer Style: Rye Porter.
Pepper blend: Fatalii, Ancho, Cayenne, Pasilla
Highlights: We enhanced the notes of coffee and chocolate from this rich, malty, and robust rye porter and endowed it with enough heat to make it enjoyable without leaving the palate feeling over worked. .


Sauce: Black As Your Soul (B/A/Y/S)
Brewer: Adroit Theory Brewing Company
Beer: B/A/Y/S
Beer Style: Russian Imperial Stout.
Pepper blend: Fatalii & Habanero
Highlights: A base of agave glazed carrot and tamarind is complimented by coriander seed, lemon, cumin and toasted garlic. Above average heat for a Voodoo Chile offering, but without being abusively hot.


Sauce: Bloody Roots
Brewer: Adroit Theory Brewing Company & Three Notch’d Brewing
Beer: Bloody Roots
Beer Style: Imperial Brown Ale.
Pepper blend: Fatalii, Habanero, Cayenne & Chipotle.
Highlights: Beer, Bacon and a blend of chile peppers … what more can you ask for? This is THE quintessential Bloody Mary hot sauce!

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