Hey reddit! My name is Dylan and along with my partner Becky, I opened a Hot Sauce Shop in Berkeley about three years ago. We offer about 300 varieties of hot sauce and we have over 50 bottles out on our tasting bar every day. Plus we offer things like spicy chocolates, chips, powders, and candies. I've eaten the hottest chile in the world (the Carolina Reaper), I grow chiles, and make spicy popcorn seasonings and seasonal hot sauces (next batch will be out around September). For some more background, check out this article from when we first opened.

My Proof: http://heathotsauce.com/pages/ama


EDIT: This has been awesome so far - I'm gonna go eat some dinner, but I'll be back to answer some more questions in a few hours. I'll definitely get to all of them, so keep 'em coming!


  • I'm still hoping to answer all the questions, slowly but surely. Feel free to ask more, but I apologize in advance for the delayed responses.

  • To those who ordered from us, thank you! We are working hard to make sure everything can go out on Monday, but it's just me and Becky who do the packing and shipping, so it's possible some might not go out until Tuesday. You'll get a tracking number emailed to you when your order is packed up.

  • Thanks for the gold, kind internet stranger!

  • If you like spicy things, definitely check out /r/spicy (there's a weekly vendor thread every Sunday where I post updates and specials) and /r/hotpeppers (for more pepper growing oriented content).

  • Thanks again to everyone for the great questions and words of encouragement. This has been a lot of fun!

Comments: 639 • Responses: 99  • Date: 

orangejulius70 karma

Do you have a video of you eating the Carolina Reaper? How long did it take you to recover from that?

heathotsauce98 karma

I don't have a video (I know, pics or it didn't happen), but it was a painful experience even for me, and I have a really high tolerance. My mouth was feeling totally better after an hour or so, but I had cap cramps (stomach cramps caused by high concentrations of capsaicin) for a few hours after, and that night I spent a fair amount of time in the bathroom...

If you do want to see a video, there are plenty on youtube, but I'd recommend not watching anything with [puke warning] in the title, it tends to be pretty unpleasant.

ColeSloth44 karma

I tried a glob of Da Bomb: Final Answer (I also have a very high tolerance) about 15 years ago. Turns out you can hallucinate from hot sauce. Did it on an empty stomach and wound up puking from the cap pains, which made my mouth burn all over again.

You ever hallucinated from any sauce or pepper?

heathotsauce62 karma

It's like the classic Simpsons episode where Homer eats the superhot chili and goes on a peyote-like trip: obligatory gif.

But no, I've never actually hallucinated from chiles. I definitely feel your pain in terms of the cap cramps, that's the worst.

Boonaki13 karma

Johnny Cash was the Psycho Coyote.

heathotsauce10 karma

Yup! They considered Bob Dylan for the role too, but he had turned them down in the past so that got Johnny Cash instead.

abcriminal40 karma

A music store I worked at sold the Dave's Insanity sauce that required a waiver to buy...have you tried it?

heathotsauce95 karma

Yea, Dave's Insanity was one of the first superhot sauces developed. I give it props for being a trailblazing sauce (Dave made a name for himself by going to food shows in a straight jacket), but the flavor isn't my favorite because it uses pepper extract, which tends to have a bitter metallic flavor to me. Fresh pepper-based sauces are always better in my book (and to their credit, their newest sauce, Scorpion Pepper, is extract free and by far my favorite of their line). But I've been to their warehouse in SF many times, and it's pretty awesome - hot sauce as far as the eye can see!

On the subject of the waivers, that's pretty much a gimmick. We looked into, since we sell stuff way hotter than Dave's, and they aren't legally required, nor are they much protection. But they're good marketing for sure.

abcriminal34 karma

Thank you for answering! The waivers helped us NOT sell it to teenagers that wanted to prank their buddies :)

heathotsauce34 karma

That's a good point - I overheard some middle schoolers in my shop planning revenge on their teacher and I was ready to break out the waiver for that situation, because that could end poorly, but luckily they chickened out and never tried to buy them.

CatScreamer22 karma

Hate to break it to you but middle schoolers are broke. They probably stole it...

heathotsauce50 karma

We've had some shoplifters for sure, but these particular kids actually come in regularly for samples, and then save up their money and buy sauce from us. We keep the crazy hot stuff near the register and high up so it's harder to steal anyways. But yea, I actually had to chase a guy down for walking out with a hot sauce tasting book without paying, and when I stopped him he scolded me for not having a price tag on it, like that make it ok to just walk out with...

Ayatollah_Bahloni17 karma

That's the thing right there. A lot of the hot sauces marketed as being Insanity or Nuclear or whatever are little more than bottled heat. I want some flavor along with the nuclear blast, and fresh-based sauces deliver. Sorry I'm not in Berkeley, I'd love to come by.

heathotsauce22 karma

Exactly, it's all about that balance of flavor and heat. For that sort of thing, I love Bigfat's 7o8 and PexPeppers Painapple.

asdjfweaiv40 karma

Hi Dylan. I like spicy foods, but not too spicy. Can you recommend some sauces that have good flavor but won't blow my head off? For example, I really like the heat level in the chipotle flavored Tabasco sauce. That's just about perfect.

heathotsauce82 karma

Absolutely, that's something I hear a lot - flavor is so key, so many sauces get carried away with heat that they don't focus on flavor enough. If you like Tabasco Chipotle, I bet you'd like Infinity Chipotle even more - it has a really full bodied chipotle flavor without overwhelming heat. John, the guy who makes it, is a super cool dude too - he was our neighbor at the California Hot Sauce Expo. I'd also recommend Yellowbird Jalapeno - it has a nice Sriracha-like flavor with a bit more complexity, really great for Asian food and eggs.

Edit: added a link

asdjfweaiv10 karma

Thanks man! I will definitely check those out.

heathotsauce9 karma

No problem!

Beautah33 karma

I love marie sharps, it's my go to. Anything I should try to broaden my horizons? (I also go for Yucatan brand sauces and the ubiquitous siracha as well)

heathotsauce28 karma

Nice, Marie Sharps are a classic. Have you tried their new Smoked Habanero? It's like their original but they smoke the peppers first. Yellowbird Habanero is another carrot-based sauce, it's less tangy and a bit sweeter that Marie Sharps, but definitely flavorful stuff. I'd also check out Sinclair's Fatalii - it's a nice all purpose tomato based sauce featuring the citrusy Fatalii pepper - highly recommended.

peanuts_for_sale28 karma

Which hot sauce would go best on a regular Top Dog?

heathotsauce39 karma

Tough choice, but I think I'd go with Lucky Dog's Brown Label Chipotle Mustard. You get a nice mustardy flavor along with the smokiness of the chipotle and a hint of sweetness from some figs. Super good stuff.

peanuts_for_sale18 karma

Done. I'll be stopping by your shop the next time I make it out.

heathotsauce13 karma

Awesome, see you next time!

TechTrans27 karma

Do you have any sort of ritual for post-spicy consumption to make sure you're not feeling it all the next day? Usually I have a decent serving of ice cream but as my spicy-tasting tolerance goes up the rest of my body hasn't been keeping up.

edit: also I've been to your store (about 3 years ago now) and you were one of the most helpful, coolest guys I've met. You were super patient and let me try all the samples you had out, even though I only ended up buying a couple bottles. So, thanks for being awesome!

heathotsauce10 karma

Yea, generally I like to prepare beforehand by eating something carb-heavy like a big bowl of pasta. That usually insulates me a bit from cap cramps. Then afterwards, like you said, ice cream definitely helps. But I feel you, the mouth is the quickest part of the body to adapt, and everything else takes longer. It'll happen, it's just a much slower process.

And thanks for the kind words! Glad I was able to help, and I hope you enjoyed the bottles you got :)

elbowsayles26 karma

I am pretty sensitive to hot/spicy foods, but most of the time they taste amazing (before my lips and throat burn). What is the best way for someone like myself to become more tolerable to hotter foods?

heathotsauce25 karma

Slowly but surely. Gradually increase the spiciness, pushing your comfort zone up each time. The key is to do this everyday, without a break. If you wait too long you end up near square one again. If I don't eat spicy food for a week, I definitely have to re-adjust my mouth (though it's definitely easier to work your way back up each time).

Hollyfeld_Lazlo23 karma

What's the most surprising dish that's enhanced by a good hot sauce? Something most people wouldn't think to top with it?

heathotsauce48 karma

Good question - ice cream is a surprising one. A sauce like Mind Flay Strawberry Reaper Sauce (which is made by /u/kalitarios) is actually excellent poured over vanilla ice cream, because you get that nice strawberry flavor upfront, and a slow building heat from the Carolina Reapers.

In terms of savory food, I love hot sauce on pizza, which I think is totally normal, but I've talked to some people who think its weird. Honestly, pretty much every food I eat has some hot sauce on it!

factisfiction30 karma

Hot sauce on pizza is the way to go!

heathotsauce12 karma


Highmae20 karma

At what Scoville level does it become irrelevant?

heathotsauce30 karma

Well the specific number is never too precise (just because there is a massive amount of variation), so I always laugh when someone lists a pepper or sauce as 1,231,346. You could say 1.2 mil and it wouldn't make a difference.

And anything above 2 million is ridiculousness and it doesn't really matter what the precise number is, aside for bragging rights.

Bran_Solo15 karma

If you were very into cooking, and had a wife who's very into gardening, what pepper would you beg said wife to grow? Interested in things I can't buy from the store, in peppers that are either especially flavorful or unique.

heathotsauce38 karma

Good question - from mild to extra hot, here are a few recommendations: Trinidad Perfume (has the flavor of scorpion peppers, but without the heat), Aji Amarillo (citrusy and bright with a medium heat), Fatalii (super citrusy and getting up there in heat), Trinidad Moruga Scorpion (one of the hottest ones, I really love the fruity flavor, but not for the feint of heart). I'd check out www.PepperLover.com for seeds, they have quality stuff.

ninoftmfw14 karma

I think my wife is sexually aroused by spice. What do I do?

heathotsauce24 karma


Maybe try /r/Relationships with that question...

Forester26312 karma

Hello fellow hot sauce connoisseur!

Any love for Shark Brand Sriracha, Lingham's Extra Hot or Louisiana Hot Sauce? Those are my 3 go-to sauces - I like vinegary or sweeter sauces. Secret Aardvark is great, too - a local deli carries it.

Have any recommendations for a medium-heat green hot sauce?

heathotsauce18 karma

Absolutely - nice choices. Based on that, I bet you'd like Lucky Dog's Dia Del Perro for a tangy green sauce, and Bigfat's Sea of Green for a slightly sweet green sauce. They're both medium heat and totally delicious.

bayareaguy2612 karma

I recently got back from Trinidad and St Vincent/Grenadines where I was able to bring back some really good hot sauces. Problem is, I can't find them anywhere on-line! It's called Elvita's Hot Pepper Sauce. Do you have special websites you go to find unique/rare/non-widely distributed hot sauces?

Been to your store twice and loved it. Keep up the great work!

heathotsauce16 karma

Nice, the Caribbean has some of the best sauces out there! Honestly, when it comes to hard to find sauces, usually the best way is to try to contact them directly. We work with distributors for the larger brands, but small operations like that we usually work with directly. And awesome, glad you liked he shop!!

SmurfESmurferson4 karma

On the subject of Caribbean hot sauces, any love for Susie's?

heathotsauce7 karma

Oh yea, Susies is great stuff. It's been awhile since I've had it, but I love that scotch bonnet sort of flavor.

crithomancy12 karma

Are Carolina Reapers practical in some form for consumption or were developed for masochists?

heathotsauce14 karma

Well, Ed Currie, the creator of them, has said that part of his motivation was trying to cure cancer, and there may be something to that (or maybe not, I think they may be helpful but it sounds like a bit of a stretch to me). Basically I do think they were just created for masochists and as part of our never ending drive to push things to extremes.

heathotsauce11 karma

Sure, email me at [email protected] with more info. It might not be something we can pick up right away, but lets chat!

entropicitis9 karma

I like a medium heat sauce with a nice vinegar flavor. Can you recommend something other than Tabasco or Texas Pete? I want something less watery.

heathotsauce20 karma

Sure! If you like garlic, I'd highly recommend Mr Blister Garlic Extreme - it's much thicker that your typical Louisiana style vinegar based sauce, since they add so much garlic, but it still has that charataristic tang to it. If you don't want so much garlic, then I'd try Hot Winter, which is a fermented sauce that's thicker than your typical sauce, with a nice flavor and medium heat. He actually breeds his own peppers, which is pretty awesome. And finally, if you're willing to go 1 step up in terms of heat, Ghost of Ancho has a delicious smoky flavor and vinegar base, without being too watery. Don't be scared off by the ghost pepper, they just add a pinch, so it's hot, but not superhot.

entropicitis5 karma

Awesome, ordering now.

heathotsauce4 karma

Awesome, thanks!

Jokerthewolf8 karma

Do you carry wanzas wicked temptation? I have a bottle in my office for when I feel like the food needs some spicy in it

heathotsauce12 karma

Nope, I haven't tried that one, but I'll definitely keep an eye out for it. It always amazes me simply how many sauces are out there. I'd estimate that I've tried 2,000, and it's really just the tip of the iceberg.

Jokerthewolf3 karma

It's pretty good. It has the extract in it, but they added so many other flavors it mostly cancels out the metallic taste

heathotsauce7 karma

Yea that's the key with extract sauces - you've got to add a bunch of strong flavors to mask the extract flavor. Mad Dog Inferno is one sauce that I think pulls that off well - it has molasses and cloves and almost tastes like a Worcestershire sauce, to the extent that you don't notice the extract flavor.

jaeward8 karma

Are there any health benifits to eating a lot of chilli and chilli products? Also I like a really hot sauce minus the vinegar and for it not just to taste like napalm. from a fellow redditor who carries bottles of hot sauce to the restaurant.

heathotsauce6 karma

Absolutely, chiles are super healthy, here's a rundown of many of the benefits. And the whole thing about them causing ulcers is an urban legend, though that can make pre-existing ones worse.

Kazboh138 karma

Takis or hot Cheetos?

heathotsauce19 karma

Takis all the way.

accas58 karma

So I have to ask... What is honestly the best way to "cool" your mouth after eating a particularly hot pepper (or something flavored with said pepper)? I absolutely LOVE hot sauces and peppers, but I get such a level of physical discomfort (mouth burning, eyes watering, muscle tension/discomfort) after eating them that it's almost not worth it.

heathotsauce19 karma

I'm going to steal a comment from myself that I made on this post in /r/spicy:

Kefir - a fermented milk product sort of like a drinkable yogurt - is the most effective thing in my book. That's because casein (one of the proteins in dairy products) is the main reason milk helps cool the burn, not fat as it's often reported. The reason casein works is because:

casein a lipophilic (fat-loving) substance that surrounds and washes away the fatty capsaicin molecules in much the same way that soap washes away grease." 1

Now, the reason to go with kefir rather than plain milk is that "casein is precipitated in cultured dairy products... and works more efficiently than Casein in milk." 2. This applies to sour cream, yogurt, and buttermilk as well, but kefir is the only drinkable one.

I also generally avoid alcohol when I'm really burning (though a beer with medium hot Mexican food is always nice) because ethanol makes heat receptors in the mouth more sensitive - it's the same reason it burns when you take a shot 3.

In practice though, I usually just drink water, even though it doesn't help.

Recce9128 karma

What would you consider the best,most rounded sauce,like for heat and flavour an stuff?

heathotsauce24 karma

Secret Aardvark is an excellent all purpose sauce - probably our most popular overall sauce. Not crazy hot, especially by chilehead standards, but the flavor is increadable.

I love Yellowbird Habanero for a spicier replacement for Sriracha.

If you want to go a step up into the superhot realm without sacraficing flavor, Bigfat's 7o8 is awesome, it balances a nice bit of sweetness with some real heat on par with a ghost pepper.

We have a bunch of awesome redditor made sauces too, and they're all great: http://heathotsauce.com/collections/redditor-made

Not_Joshy6 karma

Haha I commented above in another comment that I bought some Lucky Dog, and I also snagged a bottle of Yellowbird Habenero in the same order. My first foray into spicy sauces outside of the usual Sriracha and Cholula, so I'm feeling pretty confident in my choices now!

heathotsauce6 karma

Oh yea, you can definitely feel confident in your choices :)

Not_Joshy3 karma

Ok now this is funny, I just put the two and two together that I actually ordered from your site! Didn't even realize it until I saw your username. So you'll probably be packaging and shipping my order soon! Haha looking forward to my sauce delivery!

heathotsauce7 karma

Haha awesome, small world! I totally will be packing it soon, and you'll get a tracking number when it ships. Thanks for the order!

JTD28 karma

I never would have thought people liked spicy things so much that you could base a store off of them. What have you the idea that you could open this store and it would stay in business? Are there others of its kind? Also, how did you get the money to start it?

heathotsauce18 karma

Yea, the chilehead community is really die-hard. I got my start as a chilehead because my step-dad is an organic farmer, and he started growing dozens of varieties of chile peppers, and I fell in love with both the complex flavors and of course the heat. I started mild and worked my way to the hotter stuff.

In terms of getting the idea, Becky and I had started our own collection of sauces (in college we bonded over our love of hot sauce in the dining hall), and we heard about the hot sauce shops in New Orleans, and we were suprised there weren't any in the Bay Area yet, since it's such a foodie area. There are plenty of hot sauce shops out there (40-50 at least) but most of them are more touristy and have really high prices (understandably, since they're generally located in tourist locations with high rent). We wanted to do it a bit differently, so we chose a less expensive area so we could offer better prices and focus more on the flavorful stuff rather than the gimmicky sauce sauces that are so common.

In terms of why we though it would work, the hot sauce industry has been growing really fast (see this and this), and while we recognized it was a risk, we felt like it was the right time to do it.

In terms of the money, we took a small loan out, probably less than we should have started with, and when we hit some early trouble - the City of Berkeley Health Dept required us to do some major pluming to install a mop sink and it turned into a 4 month hassle of struggling with the planning dept and hiring an architect, contractor and plummer - we turned to crowd funding to raise enough to finally open. Luckily people helped us get the doors open and we've developed a loyal following since then.

Now recently, we've had some seriously encouraging growth in our online business, and to be honest, that's the direction our company is going. We've explored the option of moving to a warehouse, because our little shop simply doesn't have the room to accommodate our e-commerce site and Hot Sauce of the Month Club (which together accounts for about 75% of our business). But I don't think we would have ever gotten any traction online without our physical storefront, and being able to interact with people one-on-one, and offer tastings is a lot of fun.

michaelpaoli3 karma

Love the tastings! And the wonderful wide selection of varieties! Every time I do a tasting, it generally means I end up buying another one to four yummy bottles of sauce. :-)

heathotsauce4 karma

Yea, tastings are the best way to find new sauces for sure, glad you enjoy them :)

skibbytoast7 karma

I absolutely love hot foods, and especially hot sauce!! What's the absolutely hottest hot sauce that you've either tried or sell?

heathotsauce12 karma

Well, the single hottest thing I've ever tried is Pure Evil 9.6, but that hardly counts as a sauce, since it comes in a vial and has to be diluted. In terms of an actual hot sauce, I'd say Reapercussions would be the hottest I've had. It's got great flavor, it's extract free, but man is it hot.

French873 karma

Can't seem to find the info anywhere; do you have an estimate on the scoville range of reapercussions sauce?

heathotsauce6 karma

I'd estimate that it's a bit over 1 million. The 7-pot Primos are on par with the Carolina Reaper (some say hotter, some say they're the same pepper, but that's a whole different story), and so they peak at 2.2 million and average about 1.5 million. Trinidad Scorpions are a tick below that. Assuming the sauce is about 75% peppers (just a guess, but it's certainly concentrated), maybe it's 1.1 million or so. No way to be sure, but I can tell you that everyone who has tried it at the shop has had their asses kicked!

French873 karma

How do you handle it? Like, you personally. Just a few drops on something, or can you like pour it on like tabasco with your high tolerance?

I'm really tempted to try this one, but I had a rough time with a sauce that was rated at 250k+ so I don't know if 1 mil is a good idea lol

heathotsauce5 karma

Yea, I don't exactly pour it on like tabasco, but when I'm in the mood I like to pour a nice big dollop. I'm definitely sweating by the end of it though. It's also useful one drop at a time, because you can add a bit to a big thing of soup without overwhelming the other flavors.

French873 karma

I see. What sauce would you recommend that I can pour over a burrito without dying?

For reference, I love this sauce but can definitely go for more heat. it's only ~9k SHU from what I can find. I think I could go for double that no problem. I prefer flavorful sauces that aren't to vinegary.

I might also buy a bottle of that reapercussion just because my curiosity tends to get the best of me. Even if it takes me 20 years to finish it one drop at a time!

heathotsauce6 karma

Sure, I'd say something like Palo Alto Firefigters Habanero is a great one to pour over a burrito. It's not crazy hot for a habanero, but the flavor is super nice - lots of cumin and it's not super vinegary. And yea, the Reapercussions is a fun one just to have on hand, but it's definitely the sort that will stick around for a long time!

PartyOnAlec7 karma

Forgive my forwardness, but what are your poops like?

edit: Asking seriously. I know I get the hot snakes when I eat more than a few of those chili peppers from In N Out.

heathotsauce18 karma

My digestive system has mostly adapted to my diet, but I'm not gonna lie, it isn't always pretty. There have been times I've had to temporarily close the shop to take a bathroom break, and it can be an awkward walk-of-shame when I return to the front and I'm still burning down there and walking weirdly because of it. But hey, I love spicy foods and the very occasional repercussions are totally worth it.

KFDucky6 karma

Hey, I see you on /r/spicy all the time! (Though I'm more of a lurker) Anyway, what is your favorite pepper for a mix of both heat and flavor?

My favorite for a mix of both so far has been the fatalii, though I admit my experience with trying peppers is limited. Hottest I've gone is moruga.

heathotsauce5 karma

Oh cool, hey! /r/spicy keeps me occupied when the shop is slow, it's an awesome little sub!

In terms of my favorite pepper, I'd also say the Fatalii - I love that citrusy flavor. But I also really like Aji Amarillos (a bit milder) and 7-pots (a fair amount hotter).

Terminal_Lance6 karma

Does your shop offer pure capsaicin crystals/resin/drops?

heathotsauce19 karma

We do! The hottest thing we offer is Pure Evil 9.6, which comes with 2 tiny vials of 9.6 million SHU liquid, plus a vial of 95% pure Capsaicin crystals. It doesn't sell much, but one guy bought it for medical purposes lately - he has severe nerve damage and he said it was a better deal than prescription capsaicin. I would advise against putting it on your skin unless you really know what you're doing, but luckily he did and said it worked like a charm.

MaxMouseOCX9 karma

What exactly do you do with something this hot? put a tiny little drop into a sauce? purely for heat purposes?

heathotsauce6 karma

Yea, you can add it to other sauces without changing the flavor, or add a drop to a big pot of soup. At the CA Hot Sauce Expo, Ann added some to some vanilla icing to give out as samples.

FlashRage2 karma

How does that compare to something like this? I put these in shabu shabu sauces and they're awesome.


heathotsauce4 karma

Pure Evil is rated at 9.6 million and Pure Cap is rated at 500,000, so Pure Evil is almost 20 times hotter.

streetsy6 karma

Profit margins of a successful hot sauce store? I have considered doing something similar, but the margins didn't seem like enough to keep the place running. You had to do a LOT of volume selling, or have many online purchases, etc.

heathotsauce20 karma

Yea the key is online sales. Really, that's the direction we're going. I don't think our website would have taken off the way it did without a storefront (which gives visability and a certain amount of trustworthiness). But now the storefront is basically our warehouse, and our online business is quickly out-growing it, so that situation may not work long term. I think the way to make a storefront-only shop work is to be in a touristy area and have a crazy high markup. That's pretty much what the chain hot sauce shops do, but we wanted to go in a different direction and luckily things have worked out pretty well.

Edit: a word

Not_A_Skeleton6 karma

What do you think of people who won't eat spicy food? Or people who think things that are normally considered mild are "too spicy"?

heathotsauce16 karma

To each their own - around Christmas time we always get tons of people in the shop who don't like spicy food but are getting gifts for people who do. When I offer them samples, they look at me like I'm attacking them. But hey, everyone has different levels of sensitivity in terms of capsaicin receptors. I do recommend people keep an open mind and try new things though - I've made a lot of converts of people who think they don't like hot sauce but end up enjoying it.

jhwalles125 karma

Hello Dylan, Whats your favorite pizza? Thanks

heathotsauce15 karma

I actually like to go with plain cheese, and then break out about a half dozen different sauces and eat each slice with a different type of sauce.

aXenoWhat5 karma

What happened to Predator Great White Shark sauce? It used to be (relatively) widely available in the UK, great great flavour for the heat, my last batch was some desperately poor quality knock off shit. Can you still get it in the States? It's from Delaware, hilariously

heathotsauce8 karma

Ah yea, I have no idea what happened to it, but we used to carry it and the suddenly it disappeared. That'll happen - things come and go a lot. I definitely have a few customers who were pretty bummed.

full_cat_honcho5 karma

I currently live in Sichuan, China, and they love their spicy food here, and I do too. However, they generally combine the spiciness with a weird (but good) numbing situation that is caused by the Sichuan peppercorn. I have some friends back in the states that are interested in trying that sort of flavor, and it's really hard to describe. Would you know of anything that would have that weird spicy and numbing quality to it?

heathotsauce4 karma

Awesome, I love the numbing sensation of the sichuan peppercorn! We actually do offer whole, organic sichuan peppercorns on our site. Another thing that is simillar, but different at the same time, is Diemen's Hot Sauce, which has something called a Diemen berry, which is a Tasmanian berry with a tingly numbing sensation.

Itsthejoker5 karma

What do you think of British food?

heathotsauce9 karma

Hehe - well there's a pretty big hot sauce movement going on in England, and it's a good thing, because the food needs it!

ksquad804 karma

What do you eat hot sauce with at home that is about the sauce itself and not adding it to a dish? I have many bottles and sometimes find it difficult to pair them with something.

heathotsauce18 karma

A quesadilla is a great blank canvass for hot sauce. That's one of my go-to meals when I have a bunch of new sauces to try.

mracidglee4 karma

I love that you're in Berkeley. Your staff is always really helpful and excited about the different flavors for sampling. I only wish you had slightly longer hours.

Obligatory questions: So far my favorite all-around sauce is Lucky Dog Extra-Hot Fire-Roasted. What similar sauces would you recommend?

Also, what's your favorite hot sauce on eggs?

heathotsauce8 karma

Awesome, thanks! I know our hours suck - as our online business has grown, it's been tough to keep up with the retail and we've had to shorten the hours recently. And I'm glad the staff has been helpful, since chances are that's me (I'm the only one here 95% of the time) ;)

LDHS Black Label is one of my all time favorites too! You might like like other garlicy sauces, like Mr Blister, or sauces like 7o8, but since you're in the area, might as well just try some more samples, that's always the best way to figure it out.

As far as eggs go, Marie Sharps Fiery Hot is one of my go-to sauces - the bright tangyness is the sort of thing that I like with eggs. Others include Ghost of Ancho and Desert Smoke's Garlic Reaper.

anormalgeek4 karma

If I freeze peppers, do they lose any of the heat or flavor? My pepper plants never mature enough peppers at one time to make a decent amount of sauce, and my wife wouldn't be okay with me suddenly planting a few more.

Any other ways to preserve peppers until it's time to make sauce?

heathotsauce7 karma

Freezing is my favorite way to preserve peppers. There may be a slight loss of heat over time, but not too noticable. The main downside is they lose their crunchy consistecy, but that doesn't matter at all if you're making sauce with them.

Drying is the other main way of preserving them, but it's less ideal for sauce making and more for making powders/flakes for putting directly on your food.

ezhammer4 karma

I love spicy food but sometimes get the hickups while eating it. Why does this happen and any ideas for preventing it?

heathotsauce5 karma

Yea, you're the second person to ask that and unfortunately I don't know why it happens or how to stop it. Everyone reacts to spicy food differently - some people just sweat, but don't feel it in their mouths, some people don't sweat but their sinuses drain instantly, some people can take insane levels of capsaicin without blinking, etc. But the hickups seem like the worst reaction, I hope it goes away, that's definitely a bummer!

MaoZeNong4 karma

I just visited Southern Venezuela, and at some point I saw some indigenous ladies collecting up big black ants from a mound, and when I asked what the hell they do with them, I was told that they make a hot sauce called Kumachi (not sure about the actual spelling). Right away I knew I NEEDED to try. And I did: it's very dark in color, crunchy (because of the ants, mmm) and has a salty, mild and pleasant flavor that lingers on. I bought a bottle for about $1, with their messed up exchange rate :) Have you tried that sauce? And is it sold stateside?

heathotsauce7 karma

Cool, I actually shared an article about that stuff to /r/spicy awhile back. I went to Venezuela years ago but didn't get an opportunity to try it, and now I'm kicking myself for missing the chance. As far as I know, it's not sold in the US - if it was I'd totally buy some and offer it on my site!

ikahjalmr3 karma

How should I start making hot sauce? I've been wanting to do this since high school ~6 years ago when I found out basic hot sauce is vinegar and other stuff. What stuff should I try? Are there different techniques than just mixing stuff in a bottle?

heathotsauce7 karma

It's super simple and fun, just start off with small batches and experiement. Garlic is almost always a good idea, fruits like mango and pineapple can be good, don't forget to add some salt. Check out my comment on this thread for more tips: https://www.reddit.com/r/spicy/comments/4cnsgu/questions_about_making_my_own_hot_sauce_lots_of/

Auto_Necrophile3 karma

I was at a bbq where I took a helping of what I thought was tomatoes and white onion but when I took a big bite the red part was clearly not tomatoes. It was spicy. I almost gave birth right then. What do you have to say about that?

heathotsauce3 karma

Lol, nice. I had a pregnant customer come in once looking to try really hot stuff to induce labor. I was sooo glad when their water didn't break while she was at the shop.

danielsk13 karma

I'm from Mexico and I love both spicy food and chiles, what was your experience after you ate the Carolina Reaper? Was it worst when you ate it or when it came out?

heathotsauce8 karma

It was painful on the way in, but it's the sort of pain that I kind of enjoy. I can't say the same about the pain on the way out. Also, the stomach cramps are pretty bad. I absolutely love superhot stuff, but I prefer hot sauces that balance flavor and heat, and don't just go for pure pain.

jgoma923 karma

First, thanks for the AMA, I love trying new hot sauces and am a huge fan of your selection online. Secondly, as for my question, do you have any favorites for a spicy barbecue sauce? I recently had the Jolokia 10 barbecue and thought it was fantastic and am interested in finding more in the same vein. Thank you

heathotsauce2 karma

No problem, and yea, Jolokia 10 is delicious stuff! I really like Sam & Oliver's Molten Gold BBQ sauce and also Yin Yang, which is a like a hot sauce/bbq sauce combo with an Asian flair to it.

zoobs3 karma

Reading about hot sauce and your experiences has been really interesting. Thanks for the AMA.

I just recently got back from a trip to Barbados and down there they had this hot sauce on just about every table. Since the trip it has become my absolute favorite. Balanced mustard flavor with a solid kick. Have you ever tried this sauce before?

Another question: I recently spent some time in the BBQ community and noticed some similarities to the hot sauce community. Specifically the goofy names and somewhat amateurish photoshop designs. Where do you think this comes from?

heathotsauce4 karma

Glad you've enjoyed it, my pleasure!

Delish is actually a sauce that people have requested before, but I haven't managed to get it yet. The closest thing we have is Lotties, which I understand to be pretty similar, and I absolutely love it, it's actually one of my all time favorites. So I'll definitely be keeping my eye out for Delish. Mustard just pairs so well with habaneros/scotch bonnets. I hardly ever use normal mustard now, I just go for the Lotties instead.

In terms of the BBQ community, there are definitely a lot of similarities, and part of it is I think there is a lot of crossover - many people are involved in both communities. One of our favorite customers is a professional BBQ Judge who travels around to competitions and he's also very much a part of the chilehead community as well. His blog is www.MadMeatGenius.com, worth checking out.

And in terms of the amateurish labels in particular, I think that is becoming less common in the hot sauce community, because it's amazing how much a professional label will boost sales. Investing in a quality professional label is my second biggest piece of advice to aspiring sauce makers, after 'focus on flavor'.

userbones3 karma

I feel like I've developed a tolerance to spicy foods after eating so much of it. Is that a thing? Did I somehow get used to spicy food and now it seems less spicy too me? Is there a way to measure my "spicy resistance"?

heathotsauce6 karma

That's totally a thing - before I started the shop I couldn't handle things nearly as spicy as I can now. But it works the other way too - if you stop eating spicy foods for awhile it'll start to go away (though the tolerance comes back quicker the second time). As far as measuring it, nope, it's so subjective. But I've seen it first hand at the tasting bar - 5 people try a sauce, one says it's mild, 3 say medium, and one says it's way too hot.

B1ackandnight3 karma

This thread is really interesting! All of your answers are thoughtful and loaded with passion! I love it! Please, what would you recommend to someone who would prefer green, hot level spicy, low on vinegar flavor, "verde-salsa-meets-hot sauce" hot sauce? Maybe to be put on tacos or sprinkled onto nachos, if that helps.

heathotsauce5 karma

Glad you're enjoying it! My recommendation for that would be Sea of Green - it's not super vinegary and has an awesome verde flavor. It was actually the sauce we featured in our Hot Sauce of the Month Club last month and we got a really great response!

Samdosko2 karma

Do you know of a good analog to East Coast Grill's "Inner Beauty" sauce?

heathotsauce3 karma

Yea, I think Paul's Haba Haba is a good replacement. I get that question a lot and people who have tried it say that while the Haba Haba is slightly different, it's the closest approximation.

clumsychef2 karma

Why does Dave's insanity sauce taste like hot ass? I ate a spoonful of it once and while it did make me throw up like an hour later I was more disappointed with the actual flavor than how it made me feel.

It was hot... but it was had a gross flavor.

edit: I drank a lot of beer after I ate the spoonful. The mixture of spice and bubbles just doesn't sit with me well.

heathotsauce4 karma

I agree, it doesn't taste good, and the reason is it uses Pepper Extract for heat. Extract tends to have a bitter, metalic flavor that ruins the sauce it's in. There are some exceptions (I like Mad Dog Inferno, which contains extract), and Dave's makes a Scorpion Pepper sauce that is extract free and very tasty, but yea, I agree, the original Insanity isn't too tasty.

Also, the bubbles totally make the burn worse, and alcohol increases the sensitivity of your capsaicin receptors, definitely making things worse!

two_off2 karma

How much effort is spent on getting a good flavour vs a new spice level?

heathotsauce9 karma

Well a massive amount of effort is put into breeding the hottest chiles in the world. But in terms of sauce makers, anyone can make a superhot sauce, and adding flavor is the hard part. I know many sauce makers make dozens of batches before perfecting the flavor, and it can be even more of a challenge when it comes to scaling up a recipe from a 10 bottle batch to a 200 case batch.

ross-and-rachel2 karma

Do you still willingly eat spicy food or are you sick of spicy because it's your job?

heathotsauce2 karma

Nah, I don't really get sick of it. I think it's because there's so many different types of sauce that if I get sick of one particular sauce (which happens all the time) I just switch to another. Have 300 sauces, there's always at least one that I'm in the mood for.

jemayb2 karma

What's the best hot sauce to put on eggs?

heathotsauce2 karma

Marie Sharp's is a great one - you get the bright tangy flavor from plenty of lime and vinegar. For a bit more of a kick, I like Born to Hula's Ghost of Ancho, which is a vinegar based sauce with some smoked ghost pepper added. Nothing totally crazy, since the main pepper is the mild Ancho, but the ghost definitely adds a bit of a kick.

knigoliza2 karma

My dad likes spicy sauces with naturally fruity taste, without chemical hint. I'd love to buy him a few, but unfortunately can't taste anything even moderately spicy. Would you be so kind to give some suggestions?

heathotsauce8 karma

Sure! So I'd recommend Tears of the Sun, a nice Caribbean-style sauce made with papaya, peaches, mango, and pineapple. It's not crazy hot, but the do offer a Ghost Pepper Reserve version if you want an extra kick.

I'd also recommend Wuju, which has a strong curry flavor along with mangos and mustard. Of course, this one would only be a fit if your dad likes curry flavors, because that's definitely dominant.

Infinity Chipotle is a really smoky sauce that features peaches. It's less overtly fruity than the others listed so far, but the sweetness of the peaches really compliments the smoky chipotle peppers.

Finally, I'll recommend Lucky Dog's Dia del Perro, which is a nice tangy tomatillo sauce that features apples, which add a bit of sweetness and compliments the bright sharp flavor of the sauce.

daonemanshow2 karma

I dry and grind my own pepper flakes.

I like to use Habs as the primary.

Any suggenstions to compliment the flavor of Habs?

heathotsauce3 karma

Nice, I do the same thing. I think the citrusy flavor of fataliis would compliment the flavor of habs really well.

Brock_Samsonite2 karma

Is there anything to taste with these hot sauces besides mind searing pain? Like, the taste difference between Cholula and Tabasco for example. Also which hot sauce would be best for use with stuff like pasta sauces or Italian type cuisine?

heathotsauce9 karma

Definitely - flavor, IMO, is essential to a good hot sauce, it can't just be heat. The issue is that the capsaicin can drown out the flavor if you don't have a tolerance to it. So for me neither are very spicy, and Tabasco has that characteristic vinegary fermented sharp flavor (it's not my favorite), whereas Cholula has less vinegar and notes of cumin and arbol peppers (I'd consider it one of the better mainstream sauces, though there are alternatives that are way better in my book).

As far as Italian food goes, I think Secret Aardvark would be a good choice, with the roasted tomato base.

lightningp4w3 karma

Because Cholula is so ubiquitous, what do you recommend that's of similar style?

heathotsauce2 karma

I'd say Palo Alto Firefighters, it's got a simillar cumin-y sort of flavor that goes great with Mexican food (but certainly isn't limited to that).

therealsqueegan1 karma

Question regarding your Hot Sauce of the Month Club. Are these hot sauces in the club some flavors that you usually have in your store or are they always different from your normal stock? Thanks for doing this AMA.

heathotsauce2 karma

No problem! And yea, most of the sauces we feature are already carried in our shop, but we will occasionally use the club to introduce a new sauce (as we mention on the page, we got an early release of Lucky Dog's Brown Label, so our members got it before it was available anywhere else).

By the way, I was going to post a coupon over at /r/coupons soon anyways, but I might as well let you know (or anyone else interested in our Hot Sauce of the Month Club): you can use code reddit1 for 33% off your first month of our 1 Bottle subscription, or code reddit3 for 33% off your first month of our 3 bottle subscription!

imstillnotfunny1 karma

I love spicy food but I sweat like CRAZY when I eat it. I even sweat on spicy food that is just a little spicy. How to I stop that - or at least limit it?

heathotsauce2 karma

Everyone reacts differently, and I don't think you can necessarily stop it. I've seen people at the tasting bar with the same reaction - one bite of hot sauce and they're drenched. People have been asking the same about getting the hickups, and unfortunately I think your body is going to do what it's going to do...

transc3nder1 karma

I love spicy food on the way in, but I've pretty much stopped indulging because I can't bear the inevitable Ring of Magma on the loo the next day.

Is there any way to eat spicy food and nnegate having Magma Poop the next day?

heathotsauce3 karma

There isn't a surefire way to avoid it all together, but I find that finely pureed sauces do less damage than flakes or whole chiles, and I find that eating healthy (so as to have more regular BMs) is also helpful. You'll develop a tolerance down there too, just not nearly as fast and in your mouth.

ruuuhhy1 karma

Any plans to sell in bulk? I'd 100% buy a gallon each of... uh... the four hot sauces in my fridge right now I bought from you!

heathotsauce3 karma

Yea, totally! Email me (or come into the shop and ask if you're local) about bulk deals and I'm sure we could work something out. We do have gallon sized options for some sauces, but otherwise I can give breaks on half-case and whole case orders (12 bottles to a case).

thenormalaccount1 karma

I've been a chilihead for a long time, not quite to the extent I want to eat a carolina reaper but to the extent that I know all the restaurants in town that actually serve spicy food and not some watered down version.

What's your favorite hot sauce in terms of flavor?

heathotsauce3 karma

Yea, I don't usually want to eat a raw Reaper either, but I definitely had to try it once. I'm the same way with restaurants, I feel like I've trained my local Thai place to actually make it spicy, it took awhile until they trusted I could handle it.

In terms of flavor, I love Secret Aardvark for a mellow habanero heat level, and Bigfat's 7o8 for a flavorful extra hot that isn't too extreme.

siren841 karma

I know a good hot sauce can really make a good bloody mary great but do you have any other ways to incorporate hot sauces in to alcoholic beverages?

heathotsauce2 karma

Totally - Michaladas are great, where you add a dash of hot sauce and some lime to a cold beer. Also, check out my post from awhile back where I made ghost pepper infused gin, and I made a Spicy Foghorn with it. It was super delicious, there are instructions in the comments.

Melanterite1 karma

After consuming a Carolina Reaper, did you tongue or mouth burn or feel painful afterwards?

How long did the extreme hotness last?

heathotsauce5 karma

Oh absolutely, my whole mouth had some serious pain going on, and it lingered for a long time. It decreased gradually, but I could still feel a bit of burn about an hour later.

abby13711 karma

What's your faveortie hot sauce you have tried as of now?

heathotsauce3 karma

I have such a hard time choosing a favorite. Secret Aardvark is definitely one of them, but I go through phases. Yellowbird Habanero, PexPeppers Painapple, Bigfat's 7o8, Yin Yang Smokey Habanero, and pretty much every Lucky Dog have all taken turns in my top spot. It also really depends on what I'm eating. So many good sauces I'm leaving out, but there's just too many to list.

offworldcolonial1 karma

Can you recommend some cayenne based sauces you like?

heathotsauce4 karma

Sure! I'm a big fan of Mr Blister Garlic Extreme, which is super heavy on the garlic, making it thicker than your typical Louisiana style cayenne based sauce. I'm personally a garlic addict, so that's one of my favorites. Irazu Cayenne is a good super tangy one that has just the smallest bit of ghost pepper to add a little kick. And CaJohn's Cayenne Puree is great for cooking when you just want that cayenne flavor without anything else.

srtpg21 karma

Can you recommend any hot sauces that may go well with Indian bread (Naan) or Indian food in general?

heathotsauce4 karma

Oh sure, I think Bandar's Spicy Mango is a great one, it's like a pureed version of Mango Pickle. Also, Wuju has a really nice curry flavor with some mango and mustard.

bury_the_boy1 karma

What's the spiciest thing you've put up your pooper?

heathotsauce4 karma

Well, I've never put anything spicy up my pooper, though I do hear that Cayenne pepper enemas are a thing...

dantasse1 karma

I love eating spicy stuff, don't mind the pain, but I always get hiccups which last forever and are awful. I seem to be the only one of my friends who does. Do you know people like that? Or why it happens, or what I can do about it?

heathotsauce5 karma

Yea, that's not super common but I've definitely met a lot people who have that reaction. I don't know what causes it (I assume maybe its your bodys response to irritation of some part of your throat or something), and I don't think there's a whole lot you can do. That's tough, I hope it goes away!

polkaspot1 karma

I looked at your website and you carry Palo Alto Firefighters Pepper Sauce! It's the current favorite in my household of hot sauce lovers, but I'm always interested in trying new things. Do you have any recommendations?

heathotsauce5 karma

PAFF is great stuff! We offer half gallon jugs of the stuff and I'm amazed how fast people go through it. I'd also recommend trying Lucky Dog Orange Label and Yin Yang Smoky Habanero - those are both sauces that people who like PAFF also tend to like.

rastel1 karma

What are your top three sellers and why do you think they sell so well?

heathotsauce4 karma

Probably the 3 sauces in our Essential 3-pack (Aardvark, Lucky Dog Black, and Yellowbird Habanero), because they all are totally delicious and flavorful sauces that still have some heat to them.

Adon1kam1 karma

I've never really understood scientifically what makes peppers "hot". What is it that gives the sensation of space? I honestly have no idea.

heathotsauce5 karma

Capsaicin is the active component of chile peppers that causes the heat sensation. Originally it was probably intended as a deterrent against mammals eating it (because mammals digestive systems render the seeds nonviable), but the cool thing is that birds have no capsaicin receptors, and their digestive systems pass out chile pepper seeds undamaged, so birds have helped spread chiles around the world (that being said, chiles were only in the New World before the Colombian Exchange). Anyways, the capsaicin tricks the heat receptors on your tounge into thinking it's physically hot, when it really isn't. For a much more technical discussion of how it actually works, check out this thread.

jrkenny51 karma

Have you heard of 99% / 100% PAIN? My mother picked it up for me a while ago because she knows i like my food pretty spicy, however i used just a couple drops of it in a soup i was eating and the habanero flavor overwhelmed everything else in the soup.

heathotsauce3 karma

Yup, I prefer the 95% pain, because it has a nice pineapple-y flavor. The 100% pain is basically just a habanero puree.

habanero41 karma

Do super spicy foods really give you ulcers? I once ate a burger with hot sauce and habanero peppers. it pretty much made my stomach hurt for about a month. I would love to eat it again, but i'm afraid to.

heathotsauce5 karma

Nope, it doesnt cause ulcers. However, if you already have one, then it could make it worse. The pain you felt was probably what people refer to as 'cap cramps'. They can be really painful, especially if you eat superhot stuff on an empty stomach. But there isn't any lasting damage that I know of.

KonnivingKiwi1 karma

Hey Dylan - What's your best sauce for drinking/snacking on?

I like heat and flavour. I take down a bottle of 'Pain is Good - Habanero' by Original Juan every couple of days. What do you recommend I try?

PS: Why so few Melinda's products? Red Savina is my kryptonite. I can't keep that around for more than a day.

PPS: Is Blair ever going to get back to making chips? I heard his personal life kinda buggered things up for him :(

PPPS: I saw you have Da Bomb - Ghost pepper nuts! Aren't they fantastic? I really have to exercise self-control with those.

Apologies for the long post. It's not everyday you get to discuss your passion with another chilihead! Plus, It's not weird that I openly admit to drinking hot sauce daily. You're as strange as me, I'm sure.

heathotsauce3 karma

For snacking on, I like Hotmaple Smoky Habanero, I could kill a bottle real quick with a bag of chips. Same goes for all the Lucky Dogs and I also like Paul's Haba Haba for that purpose, it has a nice curry flavor to it.

As far as Melinda's we'll actually be getting more of their stuff online really soon. I'm a fan of the Red Savina too.

And I'm not sure about Blair's - I actually didn't know about the divorce. I did notice our last batch of Jolokia chips was super mild, but I've seen variations like that in the past. I guess I'll find out more next time I place an order, I love those chips. On a side note, it's actually been a dream of mine to make a spicy chip company. Mabye one of these days!

febm1 karma

What sauce would you recommend for a guy whos only had the grocery store type sauces (tobasco, franks etc)? I love habaneros fresh, and add cayenne to everything but want a sauce with a serious kick and a nice tangy flavor

heathotsauce2 karma

Yellowbird Habanero is a really good one. You get that pure habanero flavor and it definitely has a nice tangy flavor with a bit of sweetness.

GeologyisGneiss-2 karma

So this is your job, but you still spell it "Chile"?

heathotsauce11 karma

I do, and I stand by it!

Chile is a country (note the capital C)
chili is a stew
chile is a pepper
chilli is a pepper in the UK, India and many non-US places