Month 8: Horsetooth Hot Sauce Smokestack Lightning (February 2013)

Hello Hot Sauce Lovers! Woohoo! Are you ready to enjoy a smokey sauce? …This month we’re trying out a delicious smoked chipotle and garlic hot sauce called Smokestack Lightning from Horsetooth Hot Sauce.

Specifically, this month’s selections are Smokestack Lightning  and The ‘O’ Face  from Horsetooth Hot Sauce in FORT COLLINS, COLORADO! 

Name: Smokestack Lighting
Origin: Fort Collins, Colorado, USA (Elev. 7,300 ft.)
Creator: Brother &  sister team of John and Mikie Comeau
Pepper: Chipotle Peppers, Black Peppers


Horsetooth Hot Sauce started in 2008 with the idea of setting the world on fire “one tongue at a time”. Horsetooth Hot Sauce is a family owned and operated business hailing from Fort Collins, Colorado  Their claims to fame include delectable hot sauces, choice BBQ sauces, and titillating Bloody Mary mixes.

According to Native American legend, Horsetooth Rock in Fort Collins, CO, is not a rock at all, but the heart-turned-to-stone of a great warrior slain by a slightly greater warrior during a fierce battle. According to OUR legend, these two were actually good buddies fighting over the last drop of Horsetooth Hot Sauce. Our humble advice? Don’t fight with your friends – keep plenty of this legendary sauce on hand at all times.

Owner/Chef John Comeau grew up on hot sauce – it may even have been in his baby bottle. His lifelong love of hot sauce knows no bounds, which is why he decided to take matters into his own hands and start Horsetooth Hot Sauce in the first place. Now he can stop searching for the world’s perfect hot sauce and instead put all of his energy into making said “perfect” sauce himself.

Michael Ann Comeau (Mikie) can usually be found in the kitchen of Horsetooth Hot Sauce headquarters with her bro, cooking up a delicious hot sauce, BBQ sauce, or Bloody Mary mix. Like her brother, Mikie also grew up on hot sauce. Their mother was the one who scorched their taste buds at a young age. If Mikie wasn’t splashing sauce all over her pizza, she was surely sending some mac and cheese to a fiery demise.

You won’t find huge chunks of random, pepper-dulling ingredients in these sauces – each fruit, vegetable, or spice has been carefully selected to add unique flavor while allowing the hot pepper to do its job. And its job is to make you sweat. Profusely.

Hot Sauce Review:

Horsetooth Hot Sauce has a website you can order from. Super simple. Just add to cart and pay. Our order arrived in two days!

Along with the two sauces we ordered, we received an informative brochure outlining all of the sauces available, company history, how they create their sauces and their contact and ordering information. Keep in mind they produce BBQ sauces, rubs and a couple Bloody Mary mixes as well.

My interest from the start was the oh so smokey Smokestack Lighting smoked chipotle and garlic sauce.  I didn’t want to mess around with a complicated meal so I opted for a good old stand by favorite that I thought would be perfect for a smokey chipotle flavor …BBQ’s sausage and cheese! The first thing I had to do was pop the flow-control plastic top off the bottle so I could pour this smokey deliciousness out on the sausage and cheese. In my spice loving opinion, this sauce doesn’t need any flow-control – it’s not super hot, and you’ll wants lots, so go ahead, POUR  it on.

As expected, Smokestack Lightning  is a rich and smokey chipotle mix with fresh garlic and vinegar taste, and it’s deliciously chunky. Nice consistency, with a good burn on the lips that’s not too hot on the tongue. This all natural hot sauce has a rich and complex flavor with an equally impressive bold and rich appearance. Just look at those chunks!

I’ve been tasting the Smokestack Lightning periodically over the past few days (no opportunity for hot sauce is ever passed up in the household!)  …the 5oz bottle is pretty close to empty. The more I tried, the more I liked it. Although I am a fan of chipotle, it’s not always my first choice in hot sauce – usually because I don’t find it hot enough, but the chunky garlic and chipotle flavor I’m getting from Smokestack Lightning keeps hitting the spot when it comes to adding that tantalizing extra zing to a number of the savory meat dishes I’ve enjoyed over the past week. Even when snacking, I found myself dishing out a little on the side and using it for dipping. I also tried it on a pulled-pork lettuce wrap, which goes against my usual sauce-paired-with-meat preferences because for pork, I always reach for a sweet, fruit based hot sauce like pineapple, apple or mango. This sauce  really is absolutely delicious with any meats.

Second taste in the delivery was a sauce called ‘The ‘O’ Face’ and it truly lives up to its billing! This sauce has the higher heat most of our subscribers enjoy. This heat will hit the back of your throat and make your eyes water if you go too heavy. With Orange Habanero and Cayenne peppers in the mix, it’s no wonder. I took The ‘O’ Face for a spin on some grilled chicken yesterday and it suited the dish perfectly. The pepper burn in the mouth lasts longer than the smokey chipotle sauce and it provides a much sharper bite – The ‘O’ Face even made my brow sweat a little. The sauce has a smooth texture that lacks the chunkiness of  Smokestack Lightning, but it still tastes surprisingly fresh, which may be attributed to the cantaloupe and carrot blended into the mix. Have you ever had a hot sauce with cantaloupe as an ingredient? It’s a first for me.

The Orange Habanero and Cayenne peppers featured in The ‘O’ Face definitely make this the hotter of the two offerings.  If you like it hot, you’ll enjoy it, but if you prefer a more smoky chipotle based flavor, Horsetooth Hot Sauce has blended a really fine smokey sauce you will enjoy on any cut of red meat you may be thinking of throwing on the BBQ – I really enjoyed both sauces and look forward to giving their other flavors a try.

Check out their website! Horsetooth Hot Sauce offers a variety of sauce options ready to ‘kick your tongue in the face!‘ You can check out their hot sauce gift boxes (already packaged and ready to go), 6 different varieties of hot sauce, 2 kinds of Bloody Mary mixes, and 2 kinds of BBQ sauces.  They’ve even produced a small batch mustard you might want to try.

Recap of Smokestack Lightning Hot Sauce Review:

Best pairings: Red meat – grilled or otherwise. Rich flavored meats.
Texture and Appearance:  Medium thickness with chunks of garlic, onion and Chipotle peppers
Taste:  Chipotle pepper with a smokey undertone. Fresh garlic, onion and vinegar. Initially the vinegar and smoked Chipotle dominate the first flavor to surround your tongue  but then the smokey rich heat comes through and rounds the flavors together with a mild garlic and onion finish. This was an excellent sauce to have with a savory BBQ sausage.
Heat Scale : 4/10
Ingredients : Chipotle Peppers, Distilled White Vinegar, Garlic, Onion, Salt, Black Pepper, All Natural Vegetable Gum
Graphics/Packaging:  5 oz glass bottles designed with a professionally printed labels that are loaded with information. On the left is the legend of  Horsetooth Rock, according to Native American folklore together with a lengthy description of the sauce itself – hope you can read small print!  The Horsetooth branding is carried across all of their products with a consistent use of the logo, font and colors that suit the color of the sauce inside. On the right side of the bottle you’ll find a heat level indicator – great for comparison shopping – and the nutritional information and list of ingredients. It’s a single wrap-around label, so no front and back.

Final Thoughts: I enjoyed the smokey chipotle flavor of the Smokestack Lightning and the heat of The ‘O’ Face. The sauces tasted fresh, they were packaged and delivered carefully with additional information about the other sauces available. The flavors are bold and original and truly enjoyable. Horsetooth Hot Sauce offers additional small batch limited edition sauces that are only available for a limited time. Some of these small batch sauce will find their way back into the rotation, while some are never to be heard from again, so to stay in the loop, be sure to visit the Horsetooth Hot Sauce Facebook page  or visit their website often to see what they are offering. (To try this hot sauce, and many more like it join the Club!)

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