What I’ve got on hand today is a bottle of Fri-B-Que, a product from New Mexico. Judging by the temperature gauge on the label, this should be their hottest or second hottest offering, with a full 3/4 of the temp gauge being lit up in red to warn me of the dangers to come. The front of the label makes the promise of “A kick in the throat every time”, which could mean I have something to be seriously concerned about here. However, it’s down to the 14th and 15th item on the ingredient list before I hit the word “spices” and “chili” though, so now I’m wondering if my kick in the throat is going to be anything more than a mild bruising. Let’s check in on how bad of a beating I’ll get here.
The ingredients for today’s sampling are: corn syrup, vinegar, tomato paste, water, apple cider vinegar, molasses, salt, modified corn starch, hickory smoke flavor, light brown sugar, mustard flour, dried garlic, dried onion, spice, chili, potassium sorbate, sodium bisulfate, paprika, caramel color and xanthan gum. This leads to a sweet, tart and smokey aroma from the bottle with strong hints of black pepper as a spice. There is a slight hint of what might smell like Habanero, but the smoke level of this blocks out anything obvious for guessing the chile being used. For texture, it’s fairly thick and grips to the spoon well, so use on the grill shouldn’t have any issues with sticking to your chosen item to grill.
As we move on to the big issues, flavor and fire, I sort of wonder what I’m going to get with what seems like a spiced up big sweetened vinegar cocktail based on it’s individual parts. While it’s true that there seems to be a fair amount of sweetness to this, it actually has some burn in the background that seems to come through just past the initial sweet and smoke that predominates, and yes, it has a lot of black pepper bite, but you get that back of the tongue from some sort of chile that I’m still working on trying to identify, but whatever it is, it brings the heat level up to the shallow end of the Mean pool, with plenty of black pepper and chile bite to heat up your cooking. The smoke level seems a bit high to me, so using this to slow smoke BBQ might lead to an overload of the smoke flavor, but if you’re using this as a final brushing on something that you are just grilling, it actually seems like it would be pretty good. I’d like to see a little more complexity in the spices in general, but oddly, the sweetness somehow makes this more interesting. I’m going to have to give it a solid Nice rating, with my only concessions being that I’d like to see it back off on the smoke some.