Today I had the pleasure of visiting the home base for George's Barbecue Sauces, located in an idyllic farm setting in Nashville, North Carolina (a picturesque little town in eastern NC). After driving down a pine-lined winding gravel road, the scene opened up to gently rolling farmland complete with pastures and a pond, with donkeys, geese and other farm animals. Past the main house is where the barbecue sauce action can be found: George's actually makes and bottles their sauces on-site, which is unusual (most small sauce companies contract out this labor-intensive process to a commercial bottler called a "copacker"). I was given the grand tour by Ashly, a very sweet and friendly young lady who took me through the bottling room where employees were busy filling bottles with sauce from a large commercial "vat", and to the warehouse where pallets were stacked high with cases of all three flavors of George's Barbecue Sauce (Original, Hot, and Special - a thicker version with tomatoes and jalapenos). Some of the cases still felt warm to the touch, evidence that the bottles inside had recently been hot-filled with freshly made BBQ sauce. Having visited copacking facilities and a commercial cooperative kitchen/manufacturing facility, it was fascinating to see a similar operation but on a much smaller scale.
All three flavors of George's Barbecue Sauce begin with an eastern NC style vinegar base that's mellowed with a touch of apples and just a hint of tomato. But don't get me wrong: Both the Original and the Hot recipes are real vinegar-based eastern NC barbeque sauces, very thin and tangy and just begging to be poured onto some pulled pork BBQ. The Special recipe adds enough tomatoes to make the sauce richer and thicker, and the jalapenos and extra spices create layers of peppery flavor. I particularly like the Special version on chicken, and it's also quite good on ribs. Through the years the folks at George's have developed some easy, crowd-pleasing recipes using their sauces on everything from pork and beef to poultry, baked beans and even shrimp. During my visit I picked up eight different recipes, and you'll get a copy of all of them the next time you order any flavor of George's Barbecue Sauces from the Carolina Sauce Company. There's even a recipe for Turkey Barbecue, just in time for Thanksgiving! If you haven't tried George's Barbecue Sauce, now's the time to try this Carolina favorite.