Local shoppers who are fans of hot sauces and spicy foods have almost certainly seen Syracha’Cuse out there in the wild. Their organic non-gmo, gluten free, vegan/vegetarian friendly hot sauces and mustards are available for purchase at multiple local retailers and online on their website for immediate shipping. But what if you haven’t seen them at various farmer’s markets or at other events to get a taste of their sauces? How will you know which one is right for you? We here at Upbeat Syracuse have sampled all of their hot sauces under different scenarios and can give you the definitive taste test of what each sauce has to offer!
We recently purchased a package containing all of Syracha’Cuse’s five main sauces: Salt City IPA Craft Beer, Emerald City Cilantro Onion, Armory Square Smoked Onion, Dutch Hill Maple Garlic, and their hottest offering–Syracuse Habs Hananero. For those buying online have no fear, since the order shipped almost immediately and arrived a day earlier than the tracking information told us.
The five mainline sauces arrived in a neat little branded box with all five sauces nestled gently on a bed of crinkled orange paper (a nice touch):
Each five ounce bottle contains a clear and simple list of ingredients (no strange chemicals here), a hotness gauge, and a brief write-up of the bottle in your hand. We figured that it would be best to hold off on the spiciest flavor (habanero) till the end, and so worked our way through the sauces from right to left.
We tested each sauce in three separate ways-
- A small dollop by itself on a fingertip (our own, obviously)
- On scrambled eggs for breakfast
- On a ground beef burrito bowl for dinner
Here are our thoughts on each flavor.
Salt City IPA Craft Beer
The Salt City IPA Craft Beer hot sauce, like all but the habanero sauce, lists itself as a medium hot sauce on the provide “heat scale”. For those who usually use more mainstream hot sauces this is probably a pretty good measurement–to us a medium sauce has enough spice where you can tell it’s there, but not so much that it overpowers the flavor. Those who go out of their way to seek out heat and fire (you know who you are) will find most of these sauces on the mild side.
Upon immediately opening the bottle of green sauce the very first scent to waft out was the smell of a nice Middle Ages Brewing Company IPA. The scent of peppers is present but very subdued (the website lists these as jalapeño peppers, but the bottle lists serrano). As a craft beer fan this is definitely a good first impression, since all too often you’ll purchase a product claiming to use beer in it that has not even the slightest hint of it.
For the fingertip test the beer flavor didn’t quite come through, with the pepper and spiciness right up front. On eggs and in the burrito bowl, however, the beer taste was right there as soon as it hit your tongue. This tastes like a spicy beer, which in a way it is. Definitely a must-pick for beer fans, but probably better on the burrito bowl since boozy eggs aren’t really our thing.
Emerald City Cilantro Onion
The label describes the Emerald City Cilantro Onion hot sauce as the “go to” hot sauce that should be used on everything. We’re inclined to agree. This green sauce is the closest to a standard mass market hot sauce in the lineup. The lack of seeds and the thickness was on par with something like a green pepper Cholula, but the flavor is definitely more bold.
Upon opening the bottle the scent of onion is very clear, and there’s no mistaking that jalapeño smell. Oddly, there isn’t really a hint of cilantro at first blush.
Moving on to the fingertip test and this sauce is definitely more mild than the Salt City. This is probably in line with what most folks who don’t use hot sauce or eat a lot of spicy foods would consider a “true medium”. The onion flavor is definitely present after the initial surge of pepper flavor, with a very subdued note of cilantro in the background that helps to open up the flavor more than overpowering it. On eggs the cilantro flavor surged forward more and added an extra layer to the food. On the burrito bowl the extra layers of the sauce were a big bonus, with the onion and cilantro notes mixing well with the standard lettuce/cheese/guac/sour cream/beef mix in the bowl. The cilantro taste is not super overpowering as it can sometimes be, but those who think cilantro tastes like soap (something we were eventually able to overcome) might not find it for them. For everyone else this is definitely the “go to” hot sauce staple that the bottle describes it as.
Armory Square Smoked Onion
To us this is the stand-out sauce. One of only two red sauces included in the team’s lineup it definitely stands above the others, but maybe not for everyone.
The smoky and almost sweet scent of barbecue is the first thing that you note when you open the bottle. At first blush this is less a hot sauce and more a barbecue sauce you can use to slather over ribs.
The fingertip test is when it first reveals itself as a hot sauce, although it tastes very similar to the smell. The almost sweet maple smoked onions give this by far the most distinct flavor of all their sauces. We immediately thought this would be delicious on some slightly charred chicken fresh off the grill. Adding them to eggs was like adding a sort of barbecue salsa to them, and added a slight kick that was more than welcome. The eggs tasted a little brighter, uplifted a bit by the sweetness of the onions. On the burrito bowl they also shined and gave a little more depth to the simple fresh ingredients already there.
This is our pick for their best sauce, but those who don’t love barbecue might want to look back at the Emerald City Cilantro Onion. We’re really looking forward to putting this on some grilled chicken thighs once the weather turns back around to spring.
Dutch Hill Maple Garlic
Another green sauce with very few seeds, the Dutch Hill Maple Garlic immediately jumps out as a unique sauce due to the addition of the titular Dutch Hill maple syrup.
The pepper/vinegar scent of most hot sauces is what jumps out once the bottle is opened, but there’s a subtle hint of something deeper present lurking just below the surface.
The fingertip test was a shocker, since we didn’t expect the sweetness of the maple syrup to be so far forward, with the sweetness hitting as soon as the sauce reaches the tongue. This sweetness slowly fades to a pleasant jalapeño burn with background hints of garlic. Knowing what to expect when we moved on to the egg test we weren’t surprised when it tasted like we had spilled some maple syrup from our pancakes onto our already hot-sauced eggs. The sweetness with the texture of eggs wasn’t really for us, but luckily the spiciness kicked in before the sweetness became too much. The sauce was a lot more enjoyable on the burrito bowl, but even then the sweetness just wasn’t melding well with what we were doing. Unfortunately we think our tests are what failed this sauce, since a more sweet/savory combo meal would definitely be a better pick. Their website recommends chicken and waffles with this sauce, and based on what we’ve tasted we’ve no reason to doubt that it would be delicious.
This is a very situational sauce and if you do your homework beforehand (unlike us) you will likely be rewarded. It’s a delicious sauce that isn’t well served with our tests.
Syracuse Habs Habanero
Rounding out the mainline collection of hot sauces is the red Syracuse Habs Habanero. Syracha’Cuse calls this their “signature” hot sauce, and it’s definitely the spiciest. Those who are fans of habaneros will know what to expect here and should already have a bottle in their house.
The very simple ingredient list is immediately clear upon opening and smelling the bottle. With absolutely no question this sauce contains habaneros, vinegar, and salt and that’s it. Those not accustomed to hot sauce will experience some eye burning at first sniff, but those used to spice will definitely appreciate the simplicity they hold in their hands.
The fingertip test revealed that simple gasoline-like habanero up front and center. The burn is less intense to start out, and novices might mistakenly take another taste before the capsaicin has finished its fun with their mouth. The burn slowly intensifies after first taste and lingers there to remind you that you’re chasing that spice. This is definitely the spiciest sauce in their mix.
When put on eggs the sauce sneaks in there and adds a subtle pepper taste to your food, with the spice taking its time to fully come on and show you who’s boss. Once the spice hits the burn is much more intense than the others. It was the same deal with the burrito bowl. Slowly but surely the burn rose until it climaxed just this side of what we would consider “hot”. Again, to us a good hot sauce should have a nice burn that doesn’t overpower the flavors of the pepper, and this sauce comes right up to the edge. If you’re a habanero fan and want a good kick in the teeth then this is a great go to for you. We think this would also make a great wing sauce.
Seasonal Sauces and Mustards
Syracha’Cuse sells a seasonal hot sauce called Two Apple Maple Hot Sauce. Unfortunately we weren’t very big fans and felt it would be better to leave it off the list. We’re trying to #keepsyracuseupbeat after all.
They also sell five different kinds of mustard, but we’ve not yet had the opportunity to taste all of them and give them a review. Keep an eye out and we’ll probably take a look at them later on down the line.