Last year, the stuff sold out pretty much instantly, so if you want some you might wanna get in line.
What makes it so good? Well, first, it’s Sriracha. If you've looked down at your house keys lately, or in your pantry for a bag of popcorn, or peeked in your closet to grab a T Shirt, you know that Sriracha is a national sensation. Your brand affiliation to the stuff seems to say a lot about you, culturally.
The now-ubiquitous hot sauce brand is a California-made product from Huy Fong Foods. In a smart branding move, they named it after a Thai city, Sri Racha, and made it look like it comes from the street food culture of Asia. They never trademarked the name (they've also, unbelievably, never advertised), so technically, anything can be named Sriracha.
So when Isabel Street Heat decided to make a thicker, mash-style hot sauce a la your favorite red and green bottle, voila: Their Sriracha was born.
But that’s where the similarities end. Isabel Street Heat’s hallmark move, and the one that edges them above most of their competitors in my opinion, is that they ferment their chiles before bottling them. It gives their sauces a zingy acidity that goes beyond mere vinegar and citrus, and enlivens food to a degree that ordinary Tabasco or Sriracha cannot. Some of their sauces even have probiotic qualities.
In this Sriracha blend, they’ve taken things a step further by aging the chiles in whiskey barrels that have already been repurposed by Bent Brewstillery for their barrel-aged series beer. The Isabel jalapeños stay in the barrels for four months, fermenting but also picking up the subtle flavors of oak and whiskey, then beer. On the tongue, it’s a bit of a ride.
“First you get the charred oak tones,” says Tony Stoy, owner and chef of Isabel. “Then you get the yeast from the beer, then the sweetness from the peppers, then the heat.”
Though the sauce is thicker than a vinegar-based pepper sauce, there are no added thickeners to create the consistency. Instead, Stoy just pushes the pulp through a mill (pictured) separating the seeds and the skin from the rest.
And, if you are not a vinegar sauce lover, this may be the sauce for you, because they've added very little of it -- only about a gallon of vinegar to the entire batch. So, unlike the vinegar-forward Tabasco or salt-forward typical Sriracha, this should be a well balanced sauce with different characteristics and flavor notes.
In case you were wondering, yes, those barrels are being re-used yet again by Bent Brewstillery, in a whiskey they’ve dubbed Flame Bringer, which is also being released at Saturday's event.
So, head over to the distillery on Saturday, eat your hot sauce, then drink it too. Bark and the Bite will be on hand providing barbecue and pulled meats as a base.
If you can't make the event, Isabel Street Heat will begin distributing the sauce to a limited number of stores next week. Check their website for the full list of outlets.