A Saucy Addition to the WRJ Food Scene
The Angry Goat turns up the heat.
Jason Parker, owner of the Angry Goat Pepper Company, says that the taste of a good hot sauce should be a journey with a start, a middle and an end. For hot sauce newbies—whose experience with hot sauce has been limited to the watery, red stuff sold in the supermarket—this is a revelation. The sauces Parker makes at his recently opened shop at 240 South Main Street in White River Junction have unique personalities, not unlike the beers made by microbrewers. Angry Goat's sauces are hand-crafted, in small batches, from original recipes that reflect Parker's personal tastes and creativity. The sauces, by design, take your taste buds on a trip.
Sample Angry Goat's Red Armadillo and there is an explosion of different flavors. There's fire. There's smoke. There is sweetness from the maple syrup. Very complex stuff going on. And then, like a bottle rocket, the experience fades away.
Selecting which of Angry Goat's award-winning hot sauces to buy can be confusing, if not intimidating. Angry Goat sells ten varieties right now and there are a couple more in the approval process. Plus, there are the sauces Parker sells that are made by other companies. How does one begin?
Start by talking to Jason. He is friendly, knowledgeable and patient. Before making a recommendation he'll ask you questions about how you want to use the sauce.
Wings? On eggs in the morning? Tacos? Do you like fruity or citrus flavors? How well can you tolerate heat? That last question is pretty important.
The mildest Angry Goat sauce is rated at 6,000 to 8,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU). Scoville is the scale used to measure the capsaicin levels in peppers. Capsaicin is the oil that puts the hot into hot sauce. By way of comparison, Tabasco sauce has a rating of 2,500 to 5,000 SHUs. The Angry Goat's hottest sauce Hot Cock is insanely hot, clocking in at 1.5 to 2 million Scoville units. (The pepper spray carried by the police contains a synthetic capsaicin oil that also has a Scoville rating of 1.5 to 2 million units.)
Angry Goat ranks its sauces on a 10-point scale that, like the amp in Spinal Tap, "goes up to 11." Hippy Dippy, an avocado and kiwi concoction, is considered "mild." It is a "3". Angry Cock, the hottest of the hot sauces, scores is an "11."
Angry Goat is a small business by any measure. Parker's cooker has a capacity of 100 quarts—well below the 100-gallon legal limit that defines a small-batch operation. He and his wife, Roberta, do everything themselves. They clean and cut peppers, cook the hot sauces and pepper jellies, and then bottle the product. They market their wares, often by traveling to trade shows and hot sauce festivals. They also run the retail, wholesale and web operation.
Their efforts have not gone unnoticed. The myriad of awards Angry Goat has won are a testament to the quality of its product. Here's another: On the day I visited their store the Parkers were shipping 100 cases of sauce to California.
Parker isn't able to source his ingredients locally because the hottest peppers need a much warmer climate than we have in the Upper Valley. Peppers with less capsaicin will tolerate our cooler climate, but area growers don't have the capability to grow enough of them. Parker relies on another White River Junction merchant, Stern's Produce, for his ingredients.
On the other hand, the very cool illustrations the Angry Goat uses on its bottles are locally sourced. They spring from the imagination of Ken Graf, a tattoo artist based in Bradford, Vermont.