Posted June 27, 2013 by David in Reviews

Gnarly Knucklebuster from Backyard Texas Sauce

Backyard Texas Sauce Gnarkly KnucklebusterToday I’m checking out the Gnarly Knucklebuster Sauce from Backyard Texas Sauce out of Houston. They describe the sauce on the bottle as a hickory habanero sauce, which sounds a bit more like a grilling or BBQ sauce, but on their website it’s listed as a hot sauce and is in a standard 5 oz. hot sauce woozy bottle, so I’m headed in to this thinking of it as a hot sauce. The narrative behind the sauce talks a bit about it being similar to a big motorcycle jump that was going well, and then suddenly you’re flipped upside down and busting your knuckles on the ground, so I’m hoping to see the sauce matching up with the story and being a nice flavorful ride and then getting a bit of a sudden flip from the chilies for some burn.


Just looking at the ingredients, this is still giving me the grilling or BBQ sauce vibe, but seeing 3 types of chilies is making me feel better that this could just be more of a smokey hot sauce. Water, Vinegar, Salt, Cayenne, Habanero, Chipotle, Mustard Seed, Turmeric, Paprika, Spices, Sugar, Onion, Garlic, Hickory, Xanthan Gum.


This is a smoothly-pouring thin sauce. The color is a yellowish orange with flecks of red, black, and yellow throughout from what appears to be chile flesh and spices. The aroma is quite smokey and savory with some tartness and sweetness hidden in it. Based on the aroma, it seems like this could be a fairly tasty sauce. I just hope the high position of vinegar on the ingredient list and the narrative that this is a sauce with a flip on it, does not mean that in the end it will bring in too much acidity and hurt what currently seems like balanced flavor. The aroma of chilies isn’t heavily present, but if the chipotles were hickory smoked, there is a chance that part of what I’m getting is from the chipotle chilies.




Missing from the aroma, but quick on the draw is the salt, making itself quickly known, and while not being overbearing, it does kick in quick. There is a fair amount of smokiness and Chipotle flavor, supported even more by the addition of the hickory, but the main source of the heat seems to come uniquely from the habanero, so the cayenne, while more prevalent by weight, doesn’t seem to be the pronounced chile. The vinegar is present, but doesn’t really bring a lot of acidity, and seems to be balanced out by the sugar and water, and is easily overtaken by the presence of the smoke flavor. After all the stages of review, I’ll agree, this definitely was not a BBQ or grilling sauce, and is at its core a hot sauce, but sort of with BBQ sauce tendencies. The absence of prominent sweetness and extra presence of vinegar keeps it in the hot sauce realm. This sauce focuses mainly on bringing three big elements, tartness, smokiness and some heat, and while not completely balanced out, there is enough to keep any of the three from taking over. The heat ends up being a strong Mild, and receives a Nice for flavor. It would do quite well as a sauce to touch up meats with a touch of flavor, heat and smoke when the weather is rough and you’re just cooking inside instead over the coals. The flavor might not stand up fully to red meats, but on seafood and white meats and vegetables, it should simulate a decent spicy outdoor cooking flavor. I didn’t get any surprise flips out of this sauce, but overall it was pretty good.