25 February 2009
BBQ SAUCE OF THE WEEK: Big Bob Gibson Championship Red Sauce
This is another sauce from a famous barbecue restaurant in Alabama that I've never been to.
The Gibson name is synonymous with barbecue in North Alabama. There are no less than five separate places in the Huntsville-Decatur corridor that bear some variation of the Gibson name - Gibson's, Little Bob Gibson, David Gibson's, and of course the originator, and most famous of them all - Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q. Big Bob first started selling barbecue in 1925, and it has been in the family ever since. Today, under the direction of great-grandson-in-law Chris Lilly, it is one of the best-known barbecue restaurants in America.
Big Bob Gibson is perhaps best known for their unique white barbecue sauce for chicken, but they now offer a variety of different sauces, including this specimen - the "Championship Red Sauce." Although the bottle claims that this sauce has been over 70 years in the making, the story on the Big Bob Gibson website is that Lilly set out to create the sauce in 1995. Either way, the list of ingredients definitely shows signs of tinkering (two different "steak sauces"?!).
This sauce has won "Best Sauce on the Planet" at the American Royal, but it's not a sauce that comes off as especially spectacular. There are no outrageous flavors or over-the-top spices. It's just a good, basic product that tastes like most people expect a barbecue sauce to taste - smoky, sweet, a little bit tangy. Sometimes I'm convinced that that's the path to success in the competition world (where Lilly and BBG have had considerable success). Bold and unique flavors can be divisive - people love them or they hate them. Maybe in competition, you're better off casting a wider net.