Gabrick Barbecue Rebel Red
Gabrick Barbecue Rebel Red
$9.95 for 20oz at Gabrick Barbecue
Ketchup, Vegetable Juice, Salt, Vitamin C, Natural Flavoring, Beta Carotene, Citric Acid, Pineapple Puree, Tomato Puree, Distilled Vinegar, Corn Syrup, Salt, Dehydrated Onion, Spice, Garlic Powder, Natural Flavoring, Sugar, Mustard, Distilled Vinegar, Water, Worcestershire Sauce, Liquid Smoke, Spice, Lemon Juice, Salt, Dried Chiles, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder
The pandemic forced many to look for new and creative ways to keep working when operational norms were tossed out the window, and that's exactly how the line-up of Gabrick barbecue sauces came into being. Not long before Covid hit, owner Mark Gabrick had moved back to Austin to be closer to family after running a barbecue restaurant called Brick's Smoked Meats in Sarasota, Florida. His restaurant and barbecue background led him to open up a new smoked meat venture that had to shutter not long after opening due to the start of the pandemic, and that had Mark looking for new sources of revenue. He then started fine tuning his sauces and brought them to market under the Gabrick Barbecue brand. Mark's ability to really focus on his fledgling business led to the sauces finding relatively quick distribution in H-E-B stores in Texas, on top of the direct online sales of the four unique sauces.
A bright and acidic aroma fills the nose on the first whiff of this sauce. While the tang is most prominent, there's a sweetness behind it that both keeps the vinegar in check and creates a light ketchup-like touch. A deeper noseful unlocks the full barbecue complexity with a fairly equal weighting between Worcestershire and earthy peppers, and then lesser notes of smoke and sweet onion.
Thickness & Texture
This rusty orange sauce is both semi-glossy and semi-transparent. Because of that, it's not hard to make small orange spice specs along with some larger black bits and chunks of onion or other veggies. Those vegetable bits give the otherwise smooth sauce some texture here and there against its medium-thin thickness and watery consistency. From a suspended spoon, the sauce falls in a very fast, uneven pour that changes to several smaller drips before stopping and leaving a medium coating left clinging to the silverware.
Out of the Jar
There's an initial balanced sweet and tart taste with a deep tomato flavor backing up those primary components. It only takes a second of two of settling on the tongue for the vinegar to make a power play and almost completely wipe out the sugars, forming an acidic tomato flavor that then shifts again as multiple other ingredients enter in a quick progression. First comes an oniony taste, then the sauce gets way more complex with Worcestershire, smoke, and mustard all combining in a strong, savory, and lightly pungent manner. There's a short increase in the fruitiness as peppers enter and turn up the heat in big way. As the sauce exits the mouth, the spiciness only builds, along with the tartness, to leave the tongue tingling. While a tangy heat is the main story in the aftertaste, most of the flavors that came before still persist to keep the barbecue profile well intact.
Slathered & Cooked
This sauce coated the chicken in a pretty thin and even manner at first, but since it baked down well over indirect heat, a commendable sauce layer built up after multiple applications. When moved directly over the coals, there was only caramelization here and there, but a lot of sauce loss that had the chicken benefiting from a final brushing before consuming. That notable strong, tangy tomato flavor remained the main story in the first bite, but by the second bite, the pepper was already playing a major role, adding heat to that fruity and acidic party. The Worcestershire, spices, and mustard were a little more subdued after being cooked, but by a couple more bites in, they were accounted for and helped deliver a robustness beyond the three most prominent players.
Put to Use
Mark Gabrick so kindly sent me his four sauces to try out, and they really took me on a journey. Unlike many brands, each sauce tasted uniquely built and varied enough from each other that I was always a little surprised with what I got. Rebel Red had me guessing the most on what it would be from the name alone, which alludes to this sauce recipe tossing out regional norms and going in on uniqueness. It obviously still tasted like barbecue sauce, and one that had a familiar tangy tomato flavor. It also leaned into the standard seasonings of Worcestershire, onion, garlic, smoke, and peppers, but they did combine in such a way that felt like this sauce stands apart from others that may have a similar make-up. For me, the delivery of a strong heat that felt very at home with the acidic tomato is what sealed the deal for gaining my admiration, and I would love to see how this sauce would do brushed on something like a rack of ribs coated down a sweet rub, where the heat would come through, but also gain even more depth from more sugars, which are light out of the jar here.