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Pain is Good Louisiana Hot Sauce Small Batch #218 Review

Hello, and welcome to the ChiliZilla review of Pain is Good's Louisiana Hot Sauce Small Batch #218.

Now, whenever I pop open a bottle of Louisiana-style hot sauce, there are two things I'm looking for:

  1. The vinegar should be very upfront 
  2. Cayenne peppers should be prominent

Pain is Good Hot Sauce Small Batch #218 Review BottleThat's not to say, of course, that Louisiana hot sauces must be limited to that, or even rigidly adhere to those two rules at all: Tabasco's classic sauce, for example, uses Tabasco chiles in place of cayennes. Also of note here is that even though many hot sauces in this style ferment their pepper mash -- I'm lookin' at you again, Tabasco, but don't think I don't see you over there too, Crystal --  I don't consider it an absolute necessity.

A Louisiana Hot Sauce with a Delicious Identity Crisis?

Having said that, though, this Small Batch #218 hot sauce pushes the boundaries of the Louisiana style to the point where I would almost really rather call it more of a Caribbean-style hot sauce as it pertains to the flavors. For example, I don't think of "sweet" as a defining Louisiana-style characteristic, but this hot sauce is not shy about it at all: In its ingredients rundown it lists tomato puree in first place (also more of a Caribbean style trait, incidentally), followed by malt vinegar -- which has a rich sweetness about it on top of its acidity, as every proper fish-and-chips lover knows. Also included in the ingredients of Small Batch #218 are cane sugar and molasses, so it should be no surprise at this point for me to tell you that this is a fairly sweet hot sauce, and much different from the full-on tang of Tabasco.

Small Batch #218 - Old PackagingThe next thing I noted, right after the sweetness, was the garlic. It's up front in this hot sauce -- when I first opened my bottle, it announced itself like a genie that had finally gotten free. Not that it's rampant, or overwhelming. but if you don't like garlic or care for it in a hot sauce, this is one you might consider passing by; conversely, if you love garlic, this is definitely a sauce you should pick up and give a taste.

And on a final note, while I'm still pondering the Caribbean characteristics of this Louisiana-style hot sauce, I'll note that there seem to be more habaneros in this sauce than cayennes. Again, they're delicious -- but in lending their fruitiness to the mix, the habaneros further bolster the Caribbean case for this hot sauce. 

How Hot is the Small Batch #218 Hot Sauce?

Because so many people are familiar with the heat of Tabasco, we index our scale to that: Tabasco represents a five on our scale, so when we say that a hot sauce we're reviewing is a "seven," for example, you'll get the idea that we found it to be fairly hotter than Tabasco.

In this case? Small Batch #218 comes in with slightly less heat than Tabasco, and so we're rating it a solid four on our heat index.

How Delicious is Small Batch #218 Hot Sauce?

If you don't go into it expecting it to be Tabasco or Crystal or any other more typical Louisiana-style hot sauce, and if you're okay with a hot sauce that is fairly sweet and definitely garlic-forward, you're probably going to find this as delicious as I did. Because of the sweetness, acidity, fairly tame heat, and a slightly smoky flavor that I forgot to mention earlier, this is a good hot sauce for those who prize flavor over extreme heat. I'm going to use it to make a marinade for the next meat that I'm intending for the smoker -- and then use more of it when it comes off the grill. 

If all of that is intriguing, you owe it to yourself to try out this hot sauce. And you can find it here on ChiliZilla, right here:

 

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