HomeHome   About ScottAbout Scott   FacebookFacebook   TwitterTwitter   Email NewsletterNewsletter   RSS FeedRSS Feed

mad-anthonys-hot-sauces-bbq-sauces-michael-anthony-van-halen

The Mad Anthony product lineup, 2017, from left to right: Fiery Hot Mustard Sauce, Original Style BBQ Sauce, Original Hot Sauce, and XXXtra Private Reserve Hot Sauce.

As a few of you chileheads know, I was a huge Van Halen fan in a “past life.” I won’t bore you with how much I ate, breathed and slept the band (thankfully, not slept with the band) during my younger and leaner days. I will state, though, that even though my fanaticism for the mighty Van Halen has waned quite a bit as I’ve approached middle-age-hood, I’ve still carried over a bit of the “5150” spirit because of former VH bassist Michael Anthony‘s involvement in the hot sauce world.

I interviewed Mike (or “Mad Anthony” as he is sometimes referred to) a while back, and he revealed that his passion for fiery foods started off around the age of 17 or 18 when he first started dating his now long-time wife Sue, and he saw his future father-in-law douse his eggs in hot sauce. Mike splashed a little liquid fire on his own food, and before long, he was carrying around bottles of Tabasco everywhere he went.

Fast forward to the early ’00s when Michael Anthony teamed up with my friend Michael Greening of Mike & Diane’s Gourmet Kitchen, (the producer of one of Mr. Anthony’s favorite hot sauce lines, Ring of Fire) to concoct his own spicy condiment. Through Greening’s genius kitchen skills and Anthony’s astute palette, the two were able to develop a world class condiment in the original Mad Anthony’s Hot Sauce. Since then, an XXXtra Private Reserve Hot Sauce, a Fiery Mustard and two BBQ Sauces (one regular and one Extra Hot) were added to the Mad Anthony lineup.

Since then, Michael Anthony has switched from Mike & Diane’s Gourmet Kitchen to another co-packer to meet production demands. As VanHalenStore.com touts, these sauces are “new and improved.” Since this implies reformulation of some kind, I wanted to give these a fresh and honest review for 2017 and see if the quintet of sauces fare better or worse in my mind than how I’d previously remembered them.

A huge thanks goes to Jeff Hausman of the Van Halen News Desk and VanHalenStore.com for hooking me up with these products!

Mad Anthony’s Hot Sauce

Ingredients: Pimientos, Vinegar, Red Pepper Puree, Habanero Chiles, Garlic, Tomato Sauce, Spices, Salt, and Sugar.

Aroma:
3.5 out of 5. A recondite and heavy aroma of garlic, spices, chiles, and a hint of onions and tomatoes.

Appearance and Texture:

4.5 out of 5. Thick, meaty and has rich red hues, this original hot sauce has wonderful body and heft to it. Similar to the aforementioned Ring of Fire sauces, it’s nicely clumpy (with only minor separation between the watery ingredients and more solid components), this sauce has top-notch stickability on which any food you pour.

Taste Straight Up:

4 out of 5.  There’s a deep, playful dance that the various chile peppers, tomatoes and herbs & garlic are performing with each other. It seems worlds away from where the popular “pepper-colored vinegar” sauces the TABASCOs and Frank’s RedHot of the world are entrenched. While describing this as a sort of spicy tomato sauce or marinara sauce is a gross over-exaggeration, it does hint of being influenced by Italian flavors throughout the complex web of pepper puree, dark pimientos, habaneros and black pepper.

Taste on Food:

4.5 out of 5. That previous description may make Mad Anthony Original Hot Sauce sound like it would be home primarily on lasagna, but I actually think it’s awesome on Mexican! Try this on burritos, chiles rellenos, tacos, and more. Oh, and this condiment is outstanding on burgers and as a dipping sauce for fries! If you splash this on eggs, it will elevate your breakfast to strange new euphoric levels of which you’ve never dreamed!

There are a few things that it’s not best suited for: chicken tenders, plus most Asian food. You can’t win ’em all, but if you use Mad Anthony Original Hot Sauce on the above items that do work, you’ll be making out like a champ.

Heat:

2.5 out of 5 on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the hottest. Michael Anthony does love his heat, and this “regular” version of his sauce packs some decent spiciness that will please most general chilehead tongues.

Final Thoughts: 

Mad Anthony Original Hot Sauce is a complex, peppery and spicy product that would be a good “table sauce” for most heat fans.

Mad Anthony’s XXXTRA HOT Private Reserve Hot Sauce

Ingredients: Pimientos, Vinegar, Red Pepper Puree, Habanero Chiles, Garlic, Serrano Chiles, Tomato Sauce, Spices, Salt, Chile Pepper Extract, Sugar.

Aroma:
3.5 out of 5. Very similar to the above Mad Anthony Original Hot Sauce, but with a little more brightness and noticeable pungency from the increased proportion of chile peppers.

Appearance and Texture:
5 out of 5. With less separation than the Original Hot Sauce, this XXXTRA HOT Private Reserve Hot Sauce hit a winning bulls-eye in thick consistency and viscosity when pouring. Scotty here is very pleased!

Taste Straight Up:

3.5 out of 5. It’s interesting what a fresh perspective has on something. Eight years ago, I was nuts about the initial taste of XXXTRA HOT Private Reserve Hot Sauce. Now? The presence of chile pepper extract (with a weird chemical-like tone running through it) has turned me off of this slightly. While it is by no means dominant, this bit of “off taste” brings this otherwise killer brew of spices and flavors down a few notches.

There ares still the admirable intricacies in XXXTRA HOT Private Reserve Hot Sauce that are found in the Original Hot Sauce: the swirling morass of tomatoes, pimentos, chiles, and hints of garlic punch. At its base, it’s still a good product, only with amped-up notes of habaneros that bring up both the heat and taste.

Taste on Food:

4 out of 5. Being based on the Original Hot Sauce, this hotter version does about the same job on similar foods. Luckily, the slightly irritating presence of chile extract is diminished more, bringing the overall flavor of the XXXTRA HOT back up a notch.

Heat:

4 out of 5 on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the hottest. NOW WE’RE TALKIN’! If you’re craving moderate fire, then stick with Mad Anthony’s Original Hot Sauce. XXXTRA HOT Private Reserve Hot Sauce is an elixir that appeals to the hardcore heat freak who want a taste to match the burn. The fire takes a second or three to build, but when it does, there’s a mighty good fire going on wherever it hits. Yes, there are much hotter sauces, but this will not disappoint.

Final Thoughts: 

This sauce has dropped a bit from the hollowed heights I once held it at. Yet it still remains a solid product through and through.

Mad Anthony’s Original Style BBQ Sauce

Ingredients: Ketchup, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Distilled Vinegar, Corn Syrup, Salt, Less than 2 percent Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Natural Flavors, Molasses, Cider Vinegar, Fig Concentrate, Dehydrated Onion, Distilled Vinegar, Spices, Salt, and Natural Hickory Seasoning.

Aroma:

3 out of 5. Smoky and sweet, this smells like a good, standard barbecue sauce.

Appearance and Texture:

3.5 out of 5. Mad Anthony’s Original Style BBQ Sauce is a darker brown tonic with medium pourability and a good, puréed feel to it.

Taste Straight Up:

3.5 out of 5. This BBQ sauce lies on the side of flavor spectrum that favors bolder, richer, sweeter notes; definitely a Kansas City style topping! There is nothing exotic about this BBQ topper, just a good, straightforward sauce.

If the hot sauces weren’t enough of an indication (and we would expect them to be fiery), Mr. Anthony is indeed a chilehead of the highest order, as this barbecue sauce is very much away from the milder side of the heat spectrum.

Taste on Food:

3.5 out of 5. Versatility rules the day with Mad Anthony’s Original Style BBQ Sauce, as anything I threw at it did admirably well with the sauce. Some barbeque products excel in being a product for the masses, while others benefit from being a more specialty product. This is more the former, tasting favorable on grilled wings, chicken thighs, burgers and pulled pork from my Weber Smokey Mountain.

Heat:

2.5 out of 5. If you don’t care for your regular BBQ sauce to contain a good deal of heat to it, then stay away from this one. But I enjoyed the low flash of chile pepper fire lurking beneath the rich amalgam of flavors.

Thoughts: 

Because a flavor expert (Mike & Diane’s Gourmet Kitchen’s Michael Greening, mentioned above) helmed the creation of Mad Anthony’s Original Style BBQ Sauce, it would have had a ridiculously slender chance of failing. This succeeds at being an enjoyable and satisfactory sauce for the masses.

Mad Anthony’s Xtra Hot BBQ Sauce

Ingredients: Ingredients: Ketchup, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Distilled Vinegar, Corn Syrup, Salt, Less than 2 percent Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Natural Flavors, Molasses, Cider Vinegar, Fig Concentrate, Dehydrated Onion, Distilled Vinegar, Spices, Salt, and Natural Hickory Seasoning

Aroma:

3 out of 5. Much like the Mad Anthony’s Original Style BBQ Sauce, with only a hint more of a pungency.

Appearance and Texture:

3.5 out of 5. No noticeable difference between this and the Original variety: a deep brown liquid that tells you it’s going to have that darker and sweeter sugar and molasses punch.

Taste Straight Up:

3.5 out of 5. A sweet, smokey blend of lots of the perfect hints from all the main and supporting players…tomato from the ketchup…sweetness from the HFCS…and lots of savory notes from onion, garlic and other spices.

And, the fire! No, this won’t compare to some of the ghost pepper, trinidad scorpion and carolina reaper BBQ products out there in the market, but this is a formidable spicy sauce that would be too hot for non-chileheads.

Taste on Food:

4 out of 5. Ah…this stuff improves slightly while on food! I cant exactly put my finger on it, but the additional heat in conjunction with the deliciously complex flavor profile make this a winner on all your grilled and smoked meats.

Heat:

3.5 out of 5. Mad Anthony’s Xtra Hot BBQ Sauce boasts some serious wallup with serious burn. Michael Anthony wanted real heat with his Xtra Hot BBQ Sauce, and that’s certainly what you’ll find here. If normal, milder levels of chile-laden fire are more your speed, then go for his Original BBQ Sauce.

Thoughts: 

My favorite out of the two barbeque offerings from Mad Anthony. A killer, all-purpose, Kansas City Style dipper and topper for all your outdoor cooked meats.

Mad Anthony’s Fiery Mustard Sauce

Ingredients: Organic Yellow Mustard (Organic Grain Vinegar, Water, Organic Mustard Seed, Salt, Organic Turmeric, Organic Paprika, Organic Spices), Mad Anthony’s Hot Sauce (Pimentos, Distilled Vinegar, Sweet Red Bell Peppers, Habanero Chili Pepper, Roasted Garlic, Tomato Puree, Sea Salt, Ancho Chili Pepper, Crushed Red Chili Pepper, Black Pepper, Cane Sugar, Spices, Onion Powder), Distilled Vinegar, Spices, Sugar, Salt.

Aroma:

4 out of 5. Mustards in general are some of the last things I would ever offer up as being pleasant smelling. Yet this was pleasing to the nostrils with sweet and savory notes twirling about with some standard prepared yellow mustard scents.

Appearance and Texture:

3.5 out of 5. Mad Anthony’s Fiery Mustard is super-duper thick – perhaps too thick to get out of the glass bottle (maybe it would be a bit easier to extract of it came in a classic plastic squeeze bottle). It’s a darker yellow tinted condiment speckled with finely-crushed pepper fragments and spices.

Taste Straight Up:

4 out of 5. Let me tell you right away that I have particular preferences when it comes to mustards. I love spicy mustards with loads of flavor with a base of smoothness and sweetness of honey. I also like your good ol’ basic yellow ballpark mustards. Most others…well, it really depends. I’m not a fan of horseradish, nor am I a lover of pure, pungent mustard seed (which has a powerful, nasal-blasting flavor similar to horseradish ), and I don’t care for mustards heavy in harsh vinegar or ones that have an eggy, mayonnaise base. Yeah, I’m picky, so it had better be in my preference zone.

Mad Anthony’s Fiery Hot Mustard Sauce is luckily within those confines of my taste palette.  A glance at the ingredients list shows that it’s a combination of organic yellow mustard and Mad Anthony’s Original Hot Sauce. I don’t know what proportions of each are included in this, but whatever amounts exist of the mustard and the hot sauce, they just flat-out work.

There is the bright, vinegary bluster that hits you immediately, with rich peppery elements popping on your tongue a few seconds later. Although I would have loved Mad Anthony’s Fiery Mustard to be a tough sweeter, it’s still delightfully complicated and tasty enough to do the trick. I couldn’t wait to try this on food!

Taste on Food:

4.5 out of 5. It gets even better on food! Hot dogs, smoked sausages, ham sandwiches and soft pretzel bites all benefit greatly from this condiment. It’s already one of my favorite mustards, and plan to keep it in my rotating arsenal of mustards that I use.

Heat:

2.5 out of 5. This possesses a nice, comfortable, medium heat that doesn’t disappoint, just as long as you’re not looking for a brush fire in your mouth.

Thoughts: 

With a slight amount of tweaking, this could be the perfect mustard.

In Conclusion

Mad Anthony’s five sauces prove that they simply aren’t just pedestrian or novelty sauces with a celebrity’s name slapped on them. Thanks to the initial collaboration between Mike Greening and Michael Anthony, they made sure they came up with a stable of aces in these.

If you’re interested in the Mad Anthony lineup and get your taste buds soaring, you can pick up the whole set at http://www.vanhalenstore.com/page/VH/CTGY/Mad.

Review – Mad Anthony’s Hot Sauces, BBQ Sauces, and Fiery Hot Mustard
Tagged on: