By Caramie Petrowsky

Craft beer, spirits and coffee keep the masses well lubricated and caffeinated in Fort Collins. Meanwhile, the craft scene continues to get spicier, too. 

The city is home to three hot sauce companies who are providing tongue tingles not only on a local level, but a national one as well. Two of the three — Gilberto’s Gourmet Goodness and Horsetooth Hot Sauce — have been on the scene for some time now. Newcomer Burns & McCoy started producing in 2015.

Jay Turner, the CEO of Burns & McCoy, has found the local gourmet foods industry to be inclusive. “We have made some great friends in this adventure,” he said. “We all get along and most try to help each other along the way.”

The three companies have more in common than just serving up spicy goodness. They all celebrated record years in 2016, according to a recent story in the Coloradoan, and the products (for now) are made in the same commissary kitchen: Brown Dog Family Kitchen.

Gilberto’s Gourmet Goodness

Photo Courtesy Gilberto's Gourmet Goodness

This was the first company on the scene, founded in 2006 by CSU alum Jay Iglehart and Danielle Gilbert Iglehart. They partnered with the owners of Miller Farms, Joe and Chris Miller, and Michelle and Andy Vanhoesen. The partnership made good sense.

“We believe that the tastiest and healthiest gourmet foods start with farm-fresh produce. That’s why we have our vegetables grown locally by Miller Farms in Plateville, Colorado,” according to the company’s website. “We use only the freshest and highest quality ingredients to let you know that we want to earn our spot on your family’s table.”

Along with hot sauce — try the Dirty South Peach Hot Sauce — the company produces three types of marinara and lots of salsa options. Gilberto’s also owns the Brown Dog Family Kitchen, a commissary kitchen in South Fort Collins where Gilberto’s is produced along with Horsetooth Hot Sauce and Burns & McCoy.

Horsetooth Hot Sauce

Since 2008, owners John and his sister, Michael Ann Comeau, have been crafting tasty hot sauces, choice barbecue sauces and non-alcoholic mixers. Along with producing some of the most delectable sauces you’ll taste, they all have imaginative, clever names, like Cinco de Cuatro, a spicy margarita mix; Hot Mess barbecue sauce; and Rubin’s Red, a sauce named after their ever-feisty blue heeler, Rubin, who has since gone on to doggy heaven.

The company’s hot sauce philosophy is “simple heat mixed with great flavor is best,” according to the company’s website. “Each fruit, vegetable or spice has been carefully selected to add unique flavor while allowing the hot pepper to do its job. And its job is to make you sweat. Profusely.”  

Burns & McCoy

Named after an old Colorado mine, Burns & McCoy is the newest sauce company to join the spicy scene, coming online in 2015. CEO Jay Turner is a former engineer turned hot sauce (and other condiments) purveyor.

Last year was a banner year for Burns & McCoy, which released 16 products, produced 60,000 bottles (sold in 14 states and three countries), and took home a total of eight awards at various hot sauce competitions. This year they’ll move to their own space and hope to at least double production. Turner is working to expand distribution and collaborate with local breweries, as well.

But let’s get back to the sauce. Of the nine hot sauce options, three are listed under the Wrath of the Gods heading, sure to appeal to the “chileheads out there.” The company also sells salsa, non-alcoholic mixers (bacon flavored bloody Mary, yes please!) and condiments, including a 1554 New Belgium Habanero mustard and Balsamic Mustard Vinaigrette. Of late, Turner has been busy working on some tasty Margarita mixes and dialing in a ranch dressing that he calls “amazing.”

“Life is too short to have bland food — truly,” he said. “I live by and believe that fully.”