Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Review: Charlie's Hard Times Honey Mustard

BBQ Sauce of the Month Club

Charlie’s Hard Times Honey Mustard

Manufacturer Sauce Crafters
Website http://www.saucecrafters.com/

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

Charlie’s Hard Times uses their reasonable price point to link into the angst of the current economic climate. Everyone has an image of what the quintessential BBQ meal is. For me, the epitome of BBQ is a pulled pork sandwich on a soft roll, with coleslaw on top and a mustard and vinegar sauce. With my natural predilection for mustard sauces I have high hopes for this product.

The sauce comes in a relatively narrow glass bottle which still allows for easy pouring. The label has a light tan base that blends nicely into the thick yellow of the sauce. A caricature of a destitute broker is featured on the label and gives the packaging an ‘old timey’ feel. The labeling is distinct and yet still remains fairly restrained.

When you take a whiff of the sauce you immediately pick up the mustard and quickly after, the natural sweetness of honey comes into play. Although pleasant, the aroma lacks nuance. I would have enjoyed hints of the red wine vinegar that is a prominent ingredient.

The sauce is a rich, deep and somewhat dark yellow color. There are very, very slight variations in this opaque sauce. Some red and some brown specks provide a contrast to the yellow base, but these specks are so hard to differentiate that they might as well not be there.

Offering the basic taste that I was expecting, the sauce was a nice treat. As I’m sure that you are aware, the BBQ sauce field is dominated by products that offer slight variations on the KC style. Much the same as with the aroma, I would have preferred a stronger presence from the vinegar. The mustard and honey both offer very strong flavor profiles that would have benefited from the acidic tang of the vinegar.

There is a wonderful lingering heat that was completely unexpected. The manufacturer specializes in hot sauces, so I shouldn't be surprised at neither the presence of the heat or the quality. It's mild enough to not detract from the mustard or honey flavors, but strong enough to have a pleasant ongoing affect.

So, how can I best distill down this review? I’ve used the sauce three times in two days.

Repeated from 1st BBQ Sauce of the Month review:

The BBQ Sauce of the Month Club sends its constituents 2 sauces every month. The cost for a one year membership comes out to roughly $9.00 a bottle and that includes shipping. For quality sauces that are difficult to find elsewhere, it seems like a bargain. In early July I will have had enough of a sample to comment knowledgeably on their shipping.

Along with the sauce there is a brief newsletter that talks about the current months selections. The sauces arrive well packed in a cardboard box. Their site (see above for link) claims that they test dozens of sauces a month (at a minimum). This volume would seem to allow them room for selectivity.

Aside from delivery to your door and the screening by their tasters, you also have the benefit of receiving a discount on purchases of sauces that you particularly like and would enjoy more of. It seems that the discount varies, but the courteous salesperson I spoke with when enquiring said that they would be happy to let a member know what the discount would be if they gave them a call (see above for phone number).


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