G Hughes Sugar Free Original BBQ Sauce
Ira "Guy" Hughes grew up in the town of Braceville, Ohio, where traditional family cookouts were a found memory of his summers. As Guy aged, he found a desire to continue his family's barbecue traditions and learned how to make their recipes and continued to improve on them over time. Eventually, Guy began to hit the competition circuit and found himself with a number of awards. With all this barbecue knowledge under his belt, he decided to begin commercial production of his sauces, choosing to fill a hole of sugar-free barbecue sauces as he joined in a partnership with Gia Brands Inc. The G Hughes brand currently has seven unique barbecue sauces along with various other sugar free condiments, dressings, and marinades.
A very familiar barbecue sauce aroma greets your nose at the outset of the aroma. It's fruity tomato and cider vinegar mixture delivers that classic tangy tomato character, while there's a mellow sweetness that's not as prominent as your run of the mill sauce. After a few deeper whiffs, a medium smokiness further cements the barbecue profile, while a very mellow onion and garlic duo also joins the party in addition to a citrusy brightness. What is absent compared to many sauces is any hint of peppers or heat.
Thickness & Texture
This semi-glossy sauce has a maroon hue and is opaque, which makes it hard to see any spices, but in the bright light you can make out some small white and orange specs here and there. The sauce's thickness sits a little north of the medium mark, and while it has a syrupy smooth consistency, that is broken up at times by what looks to be pieces of onion. From a suspended spoon, this sauce falls in one large drip then hangs for awhile before releasing one or two more slower drips and ceasing, leaving a thick coating of sauce left clinging to the silverware.
Out of the Jar
An acidic tomato flavor starts off the flavor profile, but it quickly gains some sweetness to deliver a standard barbecue taste. As the sauce begins to settle on the tongue, a medium smokiness comes in at the same time vinegar turns things a few notches more tart. As the tang continues to build, light notes of onion and garlic work their way in, then those get overtaken by a ramp up in the smoke and vinegar as the sauce exits the mouth. While not present in the aroma, there is a little hit of heat at the end that melds with the lingering tomato, vinegar, and smoke to leave a classic barbecue sauce aftertaste.
Slathered & Cooked
This sauce coated the chicken in a medium, spotty layer that baked down unevenly over indirect heat. When moved directly over the coals, there was a lot of sauce loss, and what did stay put only picked up minimal caramelization. The flavor gained sweetness after being cooked, leaving the initial tastes of the chicken with a balanced sweet and tangy tomato character. It took some additional bites for the spices and smokiness to come in, but when they did, they were simple, yet effective at adding complexity.
Put to Use
Sugar free sauces is a new category for me and I have some learning to do on what to expect from them. Things started off pretty strong though with a couple True Made Foods brand sugar free sauces I tried, which may have left me a little less impressed with this particular G Hughes bottle. What differed for me was that those True Made Foods sauces used a vegetable medley to add a unique and complimentary sweetness to the other barbecue footings, while this sauce tasted like it was going for a standard supermarket flavor, just minus the sugar. To be fair, it accomplished that very well and out of the jar you would barely notice the absence of sugar—that only became more apparent when the sauce showed less than ideal grilling properties by not baking down well and also losing a lot of sauce over high heat. Given what this sauce does pull off, there's definitely an audience for it and you do get a well crafted barbecue flavor that is simple and comforting. I think this sauce is going to serve you best as a finishing slather on a rack of ribs or other meats that have just come off the fire or, better yet, as a condiment or dip for burgers, fries, etc.