Cover Story: Hot Sauce

Dancing With the Taste Devil

 
Matt Borgerding


Joe Kelley (right) schools John Stoehr and his hot mouth.



With a name like Harry's Hot Pussy Juice, it has to be good.

Novelty names for hot sauces — Cocksucker Sauce, Pain 100%, Flaming Balls, Holy Shit!, Screaming Sphincter, Nuclear Waste and Hillary's Down on Her Knees Hot Sauce — help make Joebanero's Sweat Shop a unique local experience.

But novelty isn't the only thing about Joebanero's. Owner Joe Kelley has put in more than 20 years as a professional chef and has developed a passion for all things hot and spicy. And his shop isn't all about sauce: You can find barbecue fixings and an array of salsas, too, in his 15-foot-by-15-foot chili-lover's paradise.

Ease into Kelley's collection of 300-plus sauces with Hot Ember, a mild red brown sauce that's sweet and woody. Then try Bee Sting, whose honey sweetness is contrasted by a Habanero kick. Kiss of Fire, by far the hottest yet, is the creeper of the bunch. Bailey's Irish Scream, a fatty sauce with a hint of whiskey, is a good antidote to the creeper. There's no taste to Liquid Stoopid — it's more like an exploding bomb full of razor blades.

And that's not half of what's at Joebanero's. There's the Wall of Fire, from which customers have to sign a waiver before they can make a purchase. This space is reserved for mixtures of pure capsaicin, the chemical that makes chilies so damn hot.

The hottest one on the wall, Hard Time, weighs in at 2 million Scoville units, the method of measuring the heat of chilies. The hottest you can get is 10 million. Police pepper spray tops out at only 115,000 Scoville units.

I once foolishly ate a Scotch Bonnet Habanero — measured at 350,000 units — and it nearly killed me. So I wasn't about to dance with the devil by doing Hard Time.

But chili-heads flock to Joebanero's to get their fixes every week, and, flesh-burning or not, they'll continue knocking back Satan's juice all summer long.

WHO: Joebanero's Sweat Shop, Hot and Spicy Gourmet Sauces and Foods. · WHEN: Noon-7 p.m. Thursday-Sunday. · WHERE: 624 Main St., Covington. · INFO: 859-581-SWEAT.

Scroll to read more News Feature articles
Join the CityBeat Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state.
Help us keep this coverage going with a one-time donation or an ongoing membership pledge.

Newsletters

Join CityBeat Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.