One of the new up-and-coming stars in the BBQ sauce and rub scene is Shane Draper of Draper’s BBQ. He has embraced social media as a primary platform for marketing his sauce and rub, and it has been a resounding success! After reading several reviews of his products (including reviews done by Kevin Kelly of Kevin’s BBQ Joints and Wilfred Reinke a.k.a. the Oshawa Ogre), I knew this was a product I had to try. Shane was gracious enough to send me a bottle of his Smokin’ Sauce and A.P. Rub to review.
Before I start on the rub and sauce, let me give some background information on Draper’s BBQ. Draper’s BBQ (or DBQ for short) is located in Western Kentucky and is the result of three generations of BBQ knowledge and devotion. When Shane’s sauce placed 8th overall in the tomato-based sauce category at Memphis in May, he knew that this was the writing on the wall to get his products out on to the market. You’ll see the phrase “Three generations of pride and flavor in a bottle” on every bottle of sauce and rub, and Draper’s takes that phrase very seriously. (If you’re interested in the full story, you can read it here. It’s a very well-written piece, and my quick summary doesn’t really do it justice.)
One of the things I like to do whenever I review a sauce or a rub is to see how it looks and tastes by itself. This doesn’t necessarily give a clear indicator of whether or not a product will be excellent, but it does set the table for how a product may fare later. First off, the rub…
When I read the ingredients label on the rub bottle, I saw that the first two ingredients listed were sea salt and turbinado sugar. I am a HUGE fan of using turbinado and demerara sugar as ingredients. Taking a close-up look at a sample of the rub, you can see that there is a nice uniformity to the different components of the rub. Also, the color is a very nice orange shade that works beautifully in BBQ. When I took a taste of the rub, I found that the sweet and salty flavor profiles of the rub worked together very well. All in all, I was very pleased with the balance of flavors contained in the A.P. Rub.
I did the same thing with the Smokin’ Sauce. It is a very thick sauce that pours out quite slowly (thanks to the molasses, honey, and ketchup components). The color is a very deep crimson red, and you can see specks of pepper and spice distributed fairly evenly throughout. I took a taste of the sauce, and I determined that there is a LOT going on in the sauce! There are multiple flavors going on that you taste all at once. I detected flavors of molasses and honey, picked up hints of the ketchup that is being used, and tasted something that I thought was cinnamon. I looked at the ingredients list, and sure enough cinnamon and nutmeg are listed as ingredients in this sauce. A “Kraft BBQ-er” (and by that term, I refer to a person whose primary sauce of choice is Kraft BBQ Sauce) may be a bit confused with all the flavors going on in this sauce, but I found it to be excellent and complex.
Maybe it was my imagination, but I thought I read somewhere that the two products were manufactured to be used together. My next instinct was to try tasting them together. When I combined the A.P. Rub with the Smokin’ Sauce and tasted them together, things clicked! The flavors of the rub were a perfect complement to the sauce!
Let’s Stick It On Some Meat
Of course we all know that the most important thing about sauces and rubs is how well do they work when used on some form of meat. My meat of choice for the day: RIBS!! Anytime that I have an opportunity to do ribs on the smoker, I seize that opportunity.
I trimmed down a rack of spare ribs to a St. Louis style cut. After removing the back membrane, I lightly coated the ribs with vegetable oil (since I was out of mustard) and dusted both sides of the rack with the A.P. rub. The rack (along with the trimmings which I used to play around with some other combinations) went on the smoker, and the ribs cooked at 250 degrees using oak wood. After about 3 hrs and 40 minutes, I gave the ribs a nice glaze using the Smokin’ Sauce. Twenty minutes later, the rack came off.
After resting for about 15-20 minutes, it was time to dig in! The ribs were a touch overcooked, but that’s no fault of Draper’s BBQ — that one lies squarely on my shoulders. The flavor is what I’m here to talk about, and WOW! Flavor-wise, these were probably some of the most flavorful ribs I’ve eaten. I was able to taste the meat of the rib, and the rub and sauce enhanced those flavors rather than overpowered them. To me, that’s the mark of a very good sauce and rub.
Overall, I would highly recommend using both of these products. I would also recommend using them together to obtain optimal flavor profiles.
If you are in the Western Kentucky area, you can find Draper’s BBQ products in certain stores. A listing of these stores can be found here. Their products are also available for purchase online at the BBQ Pro Shop or through their own online store.