Monday, February 2, 2009

REVIEW: Big Jake's Roasted Garlic

Roasted Garlic Honey BBQ

Manufacturer Erickson’s Foods Inc

Quality *** (3 out of 5)
Viscosity *** (4 out of 5) This is a measure of thickness, not quality
Aroma *** (3.5 out of 5)

Appearance *** (3 out of 5)

Packaging **** (4 out of 5)

Big Jake’s is a proud product of Minnesota and they bill their sauces as ‘North Woods Style’. I try to stay up on regional differences, but I’ve never heard of ‘North Woods Style’. If Big Jake’s is indicative of this style, it seems to mean a sauce that has very strong sweet tomato overtones. It is sort of a bolder and more pronounced KC style. On the other hand, maybe it’s just a marketing gimmick.

Found in a strong, 15oz bottle, Big Jake’s sauce stands out with its gold colored label focusing on a caricature of a lumberjack. The imagery is successfully evocative of exactly what the manufacturer is trying to present. Coupled with the ‘North Woods Style’, there is a rustic, frontiersman milieu being built. The labeling succeeds in not only standing out from other sauces (much needed in this ever growing field), but also in capturing the imagination of the consumer.

The aroma of the sauce is strong and lets the user know what’s in store. The tomato and the sweetness come out and almost assault the nostrils. This is not a wimpy sauce and the aroma reflects that. Unfortunately, the garlic and honey are almost non-existent.

The sauce pours well, but is clearly thick. Adhesion to any meat won’t be a problem. With the same consistency of a thick ketchup, if poured on a plate the sauce barely spreads and maintains the shape it formed when hitting the surface. Once poured it becomes noticeable that sauce has no variation in its dark red coloring but there are some ingredients visible, which is nice. The sauce is extremely well blended so that there are no small bits of this or tiny chunks of that. ‘Smooth’ (visually and physically) is the best way to describe the sauce.

The tastes that jump to the foreground are tomato and sweetness. 3 of the first 6 ingredients are a form of sugar. Thankfully none of them are corn syrup, which helps us to avoid that nasty treacle taste and related feeling on the tongue and roof of the mouth. The garlic, vinegar and spice join the party after a few seconds and nicely ameliorate what might have been an overdose of sugar.

This is a bold sauce that should be enjoyed with meats that can shoulder that weight. The flavor is almost in competition with the meat that it is placed on. Burgers, pork and brisket would stand up well and could easily benefit, but I would avoid using this on poultry.

General Notes:

I do the majority of the sauce analysis on this site. I have often been assisted by Will Breakstone of Willie B’s Award Winning BBQ (pitmaster, competitor and caterer). The foods used with the sauces are usually brisket, pulled pork and chicken. On occasion, other foods will be used if recommended by the manufacturer (ex. burgers, fries, meatloaf, etc.).

Most of the food used for the reviews is cooked on a Weber Smoky Mountain or a Lang 84. The basic BBQ accoutrements (such as tool sets, chimney starters, etc.) are by Weber. Knives are by Mercer Cutlery. Fuel is either a cherry/oak mix or whatever charcoal I’m in the mood for.


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