Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Review: Arizona Honey Raspberry Habenero

Chef Matt’s Arizona Honey Habanero Raspberry

Manufacturer Chef Matt LLC

Quality *** (3.5 out of 5)
Aroma **** (4 out of 5)

Appearance **** (4 out of 5)

Packaging **** (4 out of 5)

Viscosity *** (3 out 5) ‘Viscosity’ is NOT a measure of quality. It is how thick the sauce is (1 watery, 5 very thick).

Is merely being different a positive? When I started these reviews I didn’t think so. My opinion continues to sway, inch by inch, with every new review. So many sauces out there offer such slight variations to the standard KC style that I have almost become grateful when I find something new and original to try. It becomes increasingly difficult to not give special consideration and a bit of an extra boost in the ‘quality’ area of the review for sauces that are a bit out of the mainstream when 9 out of 10 sauces are so close to being identical that they could be made by the same manufacturer.

I sat and pondered that for a while when I was tasting this sauce. I think that I may have developed another problem in that I have given them a 3.5 in quality when a 4 may be more reasonable. Am I now guarding against subjectivity due to personal taste too fiercely? More importantly, why am I putting this much thought into BBQ sauce?

Let’s leave it at this; Chef Matt’s sauce is at least a 3.5.

A thin bottle (but with thick glass) holds 14 oz of this very original sauce. The label has a yellow background with a caricature of a bee flying around holding a habanera pepper. The label is a bit folksy, but it works.

Putting the sauce up to your nose the first thing that you pick up is the beer. The aroma mixes well with the ketchup and spices. Getting the sauce from the bottle isn’t a problem. It pours easily and finds a middle ground between too thick and watery. Holding the sauce on the meat isn’t a problem. It adheres well while sliding just enough to coat the medium.

The sauce is a light red with black specks. It’s an attractive looking sauce that helps to separate it visually from other sauces on the market. This isn’t a product that touts itself as being all natural, but it shares some of the same quality of those sauces. The flavor lacks artificiality and the coloring doesn’t have the unnatural red vibrancy that you see all too often.

The flavor of the sauce is much more mild than what I was expecting. With a word like habanero in the title I expected significantly more kick in the sauce. While I was surprised, I wasn’t disappointed. The raspberry, beer, honey and habenero make for a potent combination. The flavors blend well and provide a pretty unique profile. This is the sauce that should have been made instead of the recent spate of products that license a major brewery’s name and then proceed to make a tasteless and lifeless sauce.

This sauce would go well with pretty much any meat and is mild enough to be enjoyed on fowl.