Chopping it up with Hop't Sauce
We caught up with the team behind Hop't Hot Sauce, to find out a bit more about the makers, what advice they give to the next wave of hot sauce sommeliers and the what sauces the love to eat.
Tell us about yourself?
I’m Sammi, and I’m the founder of HOP'T Sauce.
HOP'T Sauce started as a hobby when I was living in New York. I was there on placement with my day job, but as a beer geek I spent as much time exploring local breweries and craft beer bars as possible. The three places I found myself most were: As Is NYC, the Blind Tiger Alehouse and Other Half Brewing.
Being a foodie, I also took to sampling authentic Mexican food slathered in various homemade hot sauces at Brooklyn’s amazing bodegas, something I had never experienced in my home town of London. The two discoveries happening at the same time put an idea in my head – combining the citric flavours and aromas of hops with the heady spice of hot sauce seemed like the perfect combination. From this, HOP’T Sauce was born!
I began making HOP’T Sauce in my tiny Brooklyn apartment, playing with flavour combinations and whole cone/pelletised hops. Once they were good enough, I started taking them just round the corner from my apartment on Clinton St, to Other Half, to share with friends and try on the pizzas made at Pizza Moto across the street. People really loved them and started making requests, so I kept experimenting, taking courses at New York’s renowned Institute of Culinary Education to improve my culinary techniques.
By the time I returned home to London, I had my process nailed down and some delicious recipes that I wanted to share with more people. That’s when I decided to share my sauces with the world. Although we started trading on the eve of the global pandemic, the response from the community has been outstanding, and our brand is going from strength to strength. I especially enjoy working with other talented chefs, artists and brewers to create new and interesting flavours - please get in touch if you have a crazy idea!
What sparked your love of hot sauce? Do you remember the first time you had your first hot sauce - how did it make you feel?
I grew up in a multi-cultural household where I was exposed to spicy food from an early age! However, I didn’t have hot “sauce” until my teens when I started eating Mexican food. I loved the complexity of flavour and the subtle burn that those sauces added to food like burritos, tacos and nachos, and I’ve never looked back!
How did you develop the recipe for this sauce? How many batches did it take before you perfected it?
I’d been wanting to make a sauce with Carolina Reapers (the world’s hottest chilli in 2020) for a while… However, at HOP’T we want to avoid making “dare” sauces that are just spice and nothing else! So I started experimenting with different fruits and hops until I got the balance right. Given the time of year and the beer style (weisse beers are generally sour), fresh British raspberries just made sense. The first batch was good, and with a few tweaks on chilli:fruit ratios I got it nailed second time around!
Hot sauce is going through a real renaissance at the moment, why do you think that is?
Like many things (bread, beer, coffee), people are starting to demand higher quality, more interesting and innovative ingredients. In hot sauce specifically, people want new and interesting sauces that go beyond “this will blow your head off” type heat-forward recipes. The consumer is the winner at the end of the day, and as one I love it!
What advice would you give to budding hot sauce makers looking to launch?
Hot sauce is really easy to make. Don’t be intimidated! YouTube has lots of intro videos to get inspired and familiarise yourself with the basics. You can can start cooking at home using easily obtained ingredients from any supermarket, and you’re more than likely to have all the equipment you need. My top tip is investing in a decent blender, those things can save you a lot of time and energy!
What excites you most about the rest of this year?
Hopefully going to New York to visit family with my (American) wife and 4 month old son in August! The idea of re-treading familiar ground and seeing old friends after the last 18 months of isolation is really appealing!
Can you tell us about any sauces that are in development or are about to get released?
We just released a Strawberry Sriracha Gose called “The Very Best of Friends” with our pals Emma and Olly over at Merakai Brewing. Their philosophy of inclusivity really appealed to us, so we’re proud to be supporting each other when so many businesses are struggling with this collab!
Best three albums to cook too? and your top three go to condiments?
Nirvana - Nevermind
Green Day - Dookie
Blink 182 - Take Off Your Pants and Jacket
As for condiments, I only really eat hot sauce. Shout outs to:
1) Thicc Sauce