The New Classic: Blonde Beard’s Buffalo Sauce
With sauce names like Black Magic, Chicken & Waffles, and Holy Hell, our new Firefly artisan isn't messing around. As our Firefly community grows, we’re particularly excited about the addition of new artisans who contribute to the entrepreneurial spirit, diversity, and personality of our markets. Blonde Beard’s Buffalo Sauce is one of them.
Adam and Cara “Mr. and Mrs. Blonde Beard” Nelson are on a mission to make the best buffalo sauce in the world, without sacrificing that homemade, irreplicable taste. Blonde Beard's is the first to bottle an all natural, real butter-based buffalo sauce that tastes homemade and can be used on everything. Self-described as a “Southern take on a New York classic,” the Southern, married buffalo sauce enthusiasts, founded the company in their Lakewood, CO kitchen in 2016 and now work with a team in Golden, CO.
It’s no surprise Blonde Beard's is becoming a Colorado household name, and judging by the popularity of artisanal foods at past Firefly Handmade markets, we think they’ll be a hit in our community. Get to know the “Blonde Beards” and prepare to visit Firefly Handmade on May 18th and 19th to snag a bottle of your own:
Why buffalo sauce? How did you turn it into a business?
We got into buffalo sauce a number of years ago when we started frying wings at home for parties. We love getting creative in the kitchen, so it was natural for us to set out to make a better wing sauce than what's available on the supermarket shelf. And that we did. We hosted “wing-off” parties where Adam would serve naked wings and all our guests would whip up their own sauce concoctions. That is where our first sauce, Black Magic, was born. As time went on, we kept making sauce and experimenting with new flavors, like maple syrup, scotch bonnet peppers, even IPA. Once we had several killer recipes, we realized that we were using the stuff on everything. It quickly replaced hot sauce in our house and we started sharing the love with our friends and family.
After talking about it for several years, we decided to make it a business because we loved doing it so much and our sauces were making people happy. We started at a very small scale, cooking under the Cottage Food Law out of our house and selling to customers at farmers markets and bazaars. We found a surprising amount of success at these markets, so we organically grew from there.
How did you come up with the name “Blonde Beard’s”?
Adam's old co-worker, Kyle, used to call him “Captain Blonde Beard.” The nickname kinda stuck, and it just sounded like a cool name for a buffalo sauce. We pride ourselves on tasting homemade (because we are), so from a branding stand point, it gives us a friendly persona and makes our sauce feel like it comes from a person, not a brand. It reminds us of products we grew up around that you’d find in an old country store in the South, like Dave’s BBQ Sauce or Mary’s Pickles.
What kinds of ingredients do you use? How do you find the right flavor mix?
We use all natural ingredients, stuff you can buy at the grocery store. Butter is a very important ingredient because that keeps us true to authentic buffalo sauce. Most big name brands use oils as a cheaper substitution, and you really can taste the difference. We found the right flavor combos by lots and lots of experimenting. Which meant hosting a lot of parties, and that was fine with us!
What makes Blonde Beard’s Buffalo Sauce unique?
We make a Southern style buffalo sauce. The ingredients that really define the sauce flavors are nods to our favorite cuisine, Southern food. Chicken & Waffles is inspired by the Southern breakfast favorite. Black Magic is inspired by cajun cooking and Holy Hell uses the scotch bonnet peppers, often found in Jamaican and Caribbean dishes. We also use butter, which honestly makes everything on earth taste better.
What is your most popular sauce?
For the first two years, Black Magic was our best seller. It has a very bright profile, black pepper and cajun forward. It is very flavorful and has the perfect level of heat. However, Chicken & Waffles has recently been selling slightly better than Black Magic. It is finished with maple syrup, so it’s smooth finish makes it really easy on the palette.
What surprising lessons have you learned along the way?
Social media is more powerful than you realize. And hire a good tax guy.
Any advice for makers and entrepreneurs new to our creative community?
Don’t be afraid of hard work, it can make almost anything possible. Do a little bit everyday. Even if it’s just responding to one email, make progress everyday.
What are you looking forward to most as a new Firefly Handmade artisan?
We’ve never done a market in Boulder, so we are really excited to meet a new community of artisans and customers. We love when people try our sauce for the first time.
And finally, what excites you for the future?
Just continuing to grow. We’re growing our wholesale accounts and trying to get our sauce in front of more and more people. We want Blonde Beard’s to be a household name. We want you to see it on the table at a restaurant with the ketchup and mustard and think “oh yea, I love this stuff!"