The Pork Barrel bottle came out of the foam packing peanuts to my delight – what a well thought out executed package. I’m glad these guys started in government, because if they were in marketing I’d be in trouble competing with them for my day job! The color scheme, picture, what they emphasize “National Award Winner, All Natural, No Preservatives, No MSG” is all the right things and nothing extra (like saying “No Fat” – because most BBQ sauces have no Fat, although the continued consumption of foods to test BBQ sauces can certainly cause your waistline to expand) Nice media coverage: Men’s Health Magazine Names Pork Barrel BBQ Sauce One of the 125 Best Foods for Men… yes, BBQ sauce is right up there with spinach folks.
Simple ingredients lists are always a plus in my book. I can’t stand looking at a bottle to find a whole side of a label dedicated to Sodium Benzoate, Caramel Color, Red #40, etc, etc! This one’s got: Ketchup, Vinegar, Honey, Chile Paste, Worcestershire Sauce, Liquid Smoke, and Natural Spices. I’m not sure why they didn’t have to list out each element of the compund ingredients such as Ketchup, Chile Paste, Worcestershire Sauce… it may be different regulations based on each state, or they aren’t producing enough sauce to need to adhere to these regulations. Not a major strike, just a curiosity.
On to the sniffage. I like the first sniff. I definitely get onion and garlic on my own… but there’s more to it I just can’t place. Maybe some kind of chile pepper? The closest I can get from the label is Natural Spices. Hmm. Then I remember. These guys sent me their rub too. So I open it up and it’s got that same great smell. I lick my finger and then dip it into the rub.
I say “Ah ha!” maybe a little too loud… My wife shakes her head, the kids run in to the kitchen table. Then I taste the sauce. As if I discovered electricity, I realize that they are using the same base elements on both items. Sure, this has been done before, but for some reason this got me excited for one reason… on the BBQ Sauce they called this cornucopia of spices “Natural Spices” whereas on the All American Spice Rub – they listed all of the ingredients – well most of them anyway.
Salt, Spices (wait a sec… more mystery spices???), Garlic, Onion, Smoked Paprika, Ancho Chile, Chipotle Chile.
So I got the Onion and Garlic and half a point for guessing chile pepper. The rub is so good I’ve replaced my go-to spice rubs with this fine all-purpose Nature’s Seasoning
Needless to say, I really liked this stuff. The flavor was complex and sophisticated and not sweet to my tastebuds. Some of the sauces I get are more like candy, while this is a sauce that took a spice rub concept as the incumbent; surrounded by a solid set of staffers from worlds of ketchup, worcestershire, chile paste, and liquid smoke. So that gives it a salty, savory flavor with a bit of smoke and seasonings. It’s a bin on the thin side, but not so thin as to distract from the great flavor that the sauce offers.