Boots on the Ground at the NYC Hot Sauce Expo 2: Fear the Reaper

Senor Weaselo

Senor Weaselo

Senor Weaselo plays the violin. He tucks it right under his chin. When he isn’t doing that, he enjoys watching his teams (Yankees, Jets, Knicks, and Rangers), trying to ingest enough capsaicin to make himself breathe fire (it hasn’t happened yet), and scheming to acquire the Bryant Park zamboni.
Senor Weaselo

(Electric Boogaloo didn’t quite cut it, nor did The Quickening. Maybe Back 2 Tha Hood but that doesn’t work for Greenpoint, too hipster… where was I? Oh yeah.)

So another year, another expo, another evening and following day of gastrointestinal discomfort, all that good stuff. I don’t have to give as much of a “What the hell is this that you’re writing about Senor and why” this time around, so let’s delve in, shall we? Oh, this time I had people come with me! I’d like to take a moment here to thank the lovely and talented Nomonkeyfun for coming along for the ride, and last I checked he wasn’t dead.

So last weekend was once again the NYC Hot Sauce Expo in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. I have to say, going for the 3rd time in its 5-year existence it definitely has grown, although I’m not sure if it was any bigger this year than last, maybe because it was in the same spot or because I think I got there a little earlier last year than this year because the MTA decided to have the trains pick their own routes, so I had to take three trains instead of two and pray to lesser deities that the E/F ran express, that annoying shit. Also I think last year they went until 7 and this year they went until 6, even if much of that extra hour last year was spent by me having that Carolina Reaper-induced out-of-body experiences. Which I didn’t have this year! (Yayyy!) Because they didn’t throw peppers into the crowd. (Booooo…) I also had marching orders this year, as I was specifically told that I couldn’t buy a new hot sauce for myself until I started clearing out the ones in the fridge because there’s a whole bunch of them that are like half to a quarter full and I need to actually finish a couple. But I also had a personal note to get one of my friends something nice that wouldn’t kill her; she couldn’t come because she had a recital the next day and you don’t want to eat all the hot sauces and be in pain while you’re playing Bach Cello Suites, it just won’t go well.

First things first, technically lunch but for me is more like breakfast because breakfast requires waking up before the crack of noon. Hot sauce on an empty stomach is also something that won’t go well. So this time the barbecue tent was actually around, so I got myself a brisket sandwich. It was pretty good. Wasn’t mind-blowing or anything (there’s a place in Astoria I’m partial to), but I enjoyed it as I waited for Nomonkeyfun to get there.

Now onto some sauces. My notes weren’t as meticulous as last year, and I may have been a little nicer to myself than the year but let’s give a rundown. High River Sauces’ Cheeba Gold was a nice starting point, mustard-based and a bit curryish if not for the fruity bits. Their Grapes of Wrath I can see their point about using it for Thanksgiving turkey or something like that, but I wasn’t as big of a fan of it, a bit cabbagey? Defcon Sauces won again for the Best Wing Sauce category (I believe it was Defcon 3, the mildest, this year), but they’re no longer making Curbstomp so I had a little of its older, slightly more manageable counterpart, the Reaper-less Mk. IV Cluckwing Orange. Yes, it’s still good, and if you want hot wing sauces and are masochistic absolutely get it (or if you’re sane get Defcon 1), but I didn’t—how do I put this—there was no petite mort. My personal bit o’ treasure trove was Volcanic Peppers, specifically their Red Reaper Taco Sauce. Because it’s taco sauce… with Carolina Reaper. Also known as exactly what I’ve wanted for the last year and a half. Too bad I had a moratorium, but luckily, the Internet is really really great. (Okay… who gets the reference?) And they have a Red Reaper Ketchup too which I may need to test. Torchbearer’s Chipotle BBQ is not murderous, and I’d recommend it as a barbecue sauce that you want a little bit of heat to. And for that mixture of killing you and actually having some sort of flavor, the Brits came calling and Wiltshire Chilli Farm’s Trinidad Scorpion sauce was surprisingly sweet while, you know, having Trinidad Scorpion pepper.

Now I know what you’re saying. “Senor, did you go to a hot sauce convention and not brutally murder your stomach?” And you know the answer to that question. Instead of “I’m gonna try every Reaper sauce ever!” I picked and chose. And then went for the extract sauces instead. Near the end of the day I tried Volcanic’s Olympus Mons, which is a Trinidad Scorpion/6 million extract combination. And it was pretty good. Wiltshire had theirs too, which was actually the first of the big extracty sauces I had, called God Slayer. (+5, cool name.) I asked what was in it and the convo went as such:

“Tomato (pronounced the British way), honey bourbon, garlic, ghost chili, and 6.4.”
“6.4?”
“Million Scoville extract.”
*Senor’s eyes go wide* “Oh. Yeah, I’ll try it.”

And then I did. Which was a good timing moment because that’s when the Bloody Mary competition was about to start, and I needed a minute. The extract sauces are a little rougher of a burn than the solely pepper sauces, probably because the way the extract is made removes those pesky things like any other flavors the pepper may have. (Oleoresin extract is made by mixing ethyl alcohol with chili mash, then extracting the liquid and slowly boiling it away, leaving an oily red mixture of colored capsaicinoids. The painful bits.)

There was also Puckerbutt, creators of the Carolina Reaper, and now they sell Reaper extracts in varying concentrations. Seriously, I asked the ingredients, and they were grain alcohol and Reaper oil extract. The lowest concentration (Test Batch 2) tasted very alcoholish, but the highest (Test Batch 7) was heat-oriented. And I actually reacted better to the heat. (I have to already be drunk in order to not shudder with that concentration of alcohol. And then at that point it’s probably too late.)

Lastly, I got to do my first true gauntlety death or glory challenge! No, eating the Carolina Reaper last year was not a challenge, it was me being stupid for shiggles.

CaJohn’s has this, the Execution Station. Located at the end of its table, it’s for the brave, daring, stupid, advanced, or some combination of the four. The premise is simple though, try out seven different hot sauces in quick succession. Of course, it’s seven of their hottest, what’d you expect, milk and cookies? In order, the gauntlet laid down before me (and Nomonkeyfun, go him!)

Happy Beaver: It’s a jolokia (ghost)-based hot sauce, but the first ingredient is brown sugar, and you taste the sweetness. They call it a sweet smokiness, and I guess so? I don’t have great notes on these on my phone so as good as my memory is, it’s been more than a few days.
Leviathan: There are a lot of peppers in this! More specifically, they’re all what you would call chocolate peppers, a hotter version of its “regular” strain. And this has chocolate 7-pot (CaJohn’s prefers the flavor of the 7-pot to the pure heat of the Carolina Reaper), chocolate jolokia, chocolate habanero, and chocolate scotch bonnet. It is a surprisingly sweet heat with everything else in it, but emphasis as always is sweet heat.
Angry Cock: Oh, I didn’t mention, “phrasing” was in play throughout the entire Expo, and Nomonkeyfun made those references throughout. Especially if it involved anything on stage. You know, in case Happy Beaver didn’t make it clear enough. At first glance you’d think “How’s this #3 on the list, it’s ‘only’ a jolokia sauce?” Well it is 75% pepper mash, so that might do it. Both Nomonkeyfun and I were feeling okay at this point. A fair bit garlicky if my memory suffices.
El Chupacabra: Similar in makeup to Leviathan actually, with jolokia, scotch bonnet, 7-pots, and both Moruga and Butch T Scorpions (slight differences between the two). It’s more of a mustard sauce than Leviathan though so that gives it a little more bite than the sweeter Leviathan.
Hydra: Here is where you go “Oh fuck” because shit gets serious. It’s just 7-pot primo pepper, which though it hasn’t gotten the love of the Scorpions and Reapers, is still damn hot, averaging close to 1.5 million Scovilles (the Reaper averages a little above even though it maxes out at over 2 million). This is the point where Nomonkeyfun decided “I could go one more but I won’t enjoy it” and decided to end his quest. I commend him, though, and Rule 4 is “Know when to say ‘No más.'” Meanwhile I was undeterred in my quest.
Trinidad 7-Pot Elixir: Even more straightforward than the Hydra sauce, which at least had some lemon extract and some cane sugar and garlic and spices. This has three ingredients: pepper, vinegar, and salt. Of course at this point there’s still some smarting from the Hydra sauce and you’re just piling on. So I can’t give that fantastic of a critique on this one other than at this point there’s no going back, there’s only one left.
Black Mamba Six: Get Bitten: I didn’t know what the Six stood for until just now. And I see. It stands for 6 million Scoville extract. I thought it meant like the sixth batch or something. It’s probably not a hell of a lot, because it can’t be for not-killing-someone purposes and because it’s 73% pepper mash (believe it or not, “only” chocolate habaneros) for a 2 oz. bottle, and there’s some vinegar there too… but you taste it because extracts give that burn I already mentioned. Not as hot on its own as God Slayer, but seven sauces in succession does put some wear on you. And if I again recall this is when the Reaper eating contest was about to begin and I even said I would consider it because they said they needed people but it would be piling on not for my tongue but for my GI tract.

And what do you get for such a glorious victory? Well, I got this wonderful… coozy!

That’s a Brooklyn Lager in there for those keeping score at home.

Fame and fortune it ain’t, but it did come with executioner and grandmaster chilihead Vic giving those who survived dap. And fuck it, I’ll take respect.

Senor Weaselo, first and foremost, would once again like to thank Nomonkeyfun for joining him on this escapade, and if he’s got anything of his own to add, please, feel free. He (Senor) didn’t buy himself any hot sauce, but he did get himself an ounce of ground Carolina Reaper powder from Puckerbutt and got his friend a bottle of Dirty Dick’s Hot Sauce, which won the the award for Best Overall Sauce—it’s not an overpowering heat but it has a little kick and it’s sweet and very flavorful. Yes, she laughed at the name. Oh, and her recital went well.

As I wrote last time, there are other Expos this summer/fall planned in Portland, Arizona, and California. If you can/want to, go to them, and then you can do a BotG about it if you want!

Senor Weaselo
Senor Weaselo
Senor Weaselo plays the violin. He tucks it right under his chin. When he isn't doing that, he enjoys watching his teams (Yankees, Jets, Knicks, and Rangers), trying to ingest enough capsaicin to make himself breathe fire (it hasn't happened yet), and scheming to acquire the Bryant Park zamboni.

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JerBear50
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JerBear50

I’ll be buying a couple Datil pepper plants in a couple weeks. They really don’t grow anywhere except around St Augustine but I’m gonna try and keep one alive over on this side of the state. They’re about the same heat as a habanero but they’ve got a really unique, fruity taste. I’ll let you know how the sauce making goes once I get to that point.

Moose -The End Is Well Nigh
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Moose -The End Is Well Nigh

Nice write up!

Your asshole is going to have to go to the old age asshole home before the rest of you is ready.

theeWeeBabySeamus
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Moose -The End Is Well Nigh
Member
Moose -The End Is Well Nigh

That’s perfect.

Don T
Member

Damn. I’ve should have gotten into hot sauce R&D. Interesting stuff.
Hey Señor, here’s a cello fit for a suite. Or motel.
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Beerguyrob
Member

Braver man than I.