Okay. This could have been a tough review. See I met Tom Porter from Big Butz BBQ Sauce through twitter and we seemed to have a lot in common, especially our off kilter way of looking at life. That’s all a good thing as it’s not often you meet a new friend through the internet, but in ordering his sauce to review I could have been walking down a precarious road. Suffice to say his sauce EXCEEDED my expectations.
Since I was impressed, I figured it would be best to learn a little background about how Tom came about making these four sauces from the man himself. “Big Butz BBQ Sauce started out as what some might call a questing hobby for my, now deceased, step-father Neal Erickson. He was one of those guys where if he didn’t like something, he fixed it. Well, the same was true for BBQ Sauce. He really like grilling out with friends and family and thought that BBQ Sauce always brought something extra to food that he liked, the only problem was, none of the ones he tried were exactly right to him, either they were too sweet, or too smokey, or just plain bland. At first he would tinker with adding to sauces that he liked but, found that if he wanted it done right he had to start from scratch.” This made complete sense to me. It was often the case that I’d try a bottled sauce or one that a friend made and it would be close, but not quite what I wanted.
Still, I wondered how Tom got involved. “Now that’s about where I come into the picture. I myself have always had a strange knack for all things cooking and food related. I remember the first time I tried Neal’s BBQ Sauce, I said, “You’re really onto something with this.” It had great all around flavor and was unlike any other BBQ sauce I had tasted before but, there was a bit of tweaking that could be done. I mentioned a couple of things that he might want to think about adding or taking away.”
Tom went on, “After working on this sauce for a full 7 years, he finally had perfected his recipe. Now, my mom already had her shop up and running, it was a gift/deli/ice cream place. They decided that it was time to bring the BBQ Sauce out to the public. So, they went through all of the proper channels and got an unexpected education in how the food producing industry works but, in the end they started making it up in the back kitchen of the shop in small batches. Almost 10 years has passed since those first batches came out of the back kitchen at the shop. In that time, Neal actually built our own factory off the back of the shop and that is where we make our BBQ Sauce now.”
“It’s still made in small batches by industry standards but, a lot larger then just a kettle on a stove. We do everything ourselves from mixing, filling, capping, labeling, boxing, to delivering and shipping. A little over a year ago, Neal passed away and we were left with a decision, as there were only two other people who knew the recipes to the now 4 BBQ Sauces, should we keep Neal’s dream going or not? It’s now the second year that my wife and I have taken over the production of the BBQ Sauce and I am proud and honored to say that we are keeping Neal’s legacy alive and well. Each year our production has grown more and more, and this year looks to be no different.” You can definitely tell this is labor intensive and done with care.
But I had to know how they came up with the name. Big Butz BBQ Sauce had to mean something. “It came out of a strange brainstorming session, that does have meaning. We had decided to name my mom’s shop Yah Butz in the Woods. Well when it came time to come up with a name for the BBQ Sauce, we were joking around over how Neal would be called Papa Butz and maybe we should call the sauce that, in the end though we went with Big Butz for pretty much those same reasons and that it had a better sound to it.”
I’m a huge fan of the hot and xtra hot, but that’s my taste sensibility. The original and cranberry (I know, it sounds odd, but it really works and definitely is not heavy on cranberry, more just a subtle hint of cranberry at the finish) are perfect as every day sauces. I smoked a pork butt and nearly finished a jar of the hot on my own.
For good measure, here’s a song that Tom shared that I have to assume he listens too while he mixes up a batch of the xtra hot.