Well, we finally did it. We took on a suicide wing challenge. We’d been talking about it basically since we started this website, but we had never actually taken that task on. Which is not to say we haven’t had some spicy fucking wing sauce: The Reef, Cogburn’s, and that God-forsaken toothpick from NY Boys spring to mind. Still, there’s something different about a wing challenge; pitting your heat tolerance and lack of better judgement against whatever terrible combination of chile peppers and hot sauce the cook can come up with to destroy your taste buds…
Rob, Editor of beerphxation.com and President of Arizona Society of Homebrewers, reached out to Xavvi over Reddit to let him know about the challenge at the Yucca Tap Room. This challenge was a little unique in terms of wing challenges though. The idea was that you have to eat a dozen of the hottest wings they could come up with and down an IPA. Beer and wings challenge? I think it was fair to say we were excited to cover the event.
I had never been to Yucca Tap Room before this event but my wife was surprised when I told her about it. she didn’t think that Yucca Tap Room had a kitchen to make any wings. Turns out they have expanded (probably a long time ago for all I know) so they actually have two rooms now. They have the old room with the stage and the place next door with a kitchen and a respectable beer list. I had a beer in the wrong room before someone got me pointed in the right direction.
I met up with Xavvi, his wife Sarah, and long time friends of WDIET, Brad and Aimee in the correct side of the bar. Xavvi and I got to finally meet Rob in person and we were introduced to Kristine, a rep for World Class Beer Arizona who was sort of running the show and paid our entry fees. Thanks! We got our names on the signup form and made our IPA selection. We both went with the Green Flash Palate Wrecker which is an excellent IPA.
Just FYI, they told us the reason the chose to pair an IPA with the wing challenge is because beers high on the IBU scale will intensify the spiciness in the wings. Good to know.
We ordered some beers while we waited. Brad was joining us in the wing eating contest after some coaxing but Sarah and Aimee were (smartly) sitting it out and just going to watch us eat ourselves into oblivion. Aimee ordered some chicken and waffles also. I didn’t try it but it smelled amazing and everyone who did have some seemed very satisfied.
Brad and Aimee had a chance to speak with the cook making the wings. He told them they had been going out of their way for weeks to find every type of chile pepper they could get their hands on for this sauce. That certainly made it sound like they wanted us to suffer but it also gave us the impression that a lot of time and effort went into preparing the sauce, which we appreciate.
Eventually, the time came and we all sat in a line at some of their high-top tables. They brought each of us a basket of wings and our pre-selected beer. The wings were a good size and well coated with sauce but there was one problem: they were breaded. Definitely not ideal for us but we were committed at this point so there was no turning back.
Up until this thing started, I was counting on my sole advantage being that the heat wouldn’t phase me too much. I was hoping for the spiciest wings we could get so I could try to power through them while others suffered. I try to profit from the suffering of others as much as possible.
They kicked things off and we all dove into our basket of wings. The sauce was tasty and the wings were cooked well but the breading did take away from the experience. Hopefully, in the future they decide to ditch the breading because they don’t need it and it just does a disservice to a quality wing and sauce.
The heat from the sauce didn’t seem very significant for the first few wings. I was thinking it was pretty tame for a wing challenge. Turns it out was just one of those slow burn type sauces and the heat did start to add up the more wings you had until it was plenty formidable.
It seems like it was almost immediately after it started when I heard somebody down the line yell out that they were done. I was only through three or four of my dozen wings so far so I just assumed they were just bailing on the competition because they couldn’t handle the heat. No part of me thought that someone could have actually already eaten their dozen wings and downed their beer. I was wrong. Not only that, but it was Brad who demolished his beer/wings combo in just a little over two minutes. This was the guy that Xavvi had to talk into entering the contest. Seems he is a natural. Congratulations to Brad for kicking all of our asses.
The contest went on though and we kept eating those wings. The heat was building and one by one people were finishing up and stepping away from the table until the only ones left were Xavvi and I. Turns out that eating wings and drinking beer all over Phoenix did not adequately prepare us for this challenge. To be fair, we don’t write about eating wings quickly.
In the end, I got second to last place with a time just over 12 minutes (a full ten minutes behind Brad’s time) and Xavvi got last place with a time just over 13 minutes. Not a great showing from the local hot wing writers.
By my calculations, Brad could have finished about 72 wings and six beers in the time it took me to finish my dozen and drink my single beer at the pace he was going. Add on a few more wings and probably another half a beer for Xavvi’s time.
We watched the second heat to see if anybody could stack up to the seemingly unbeatable winning time from the first group. The second heat was only three dudes. Two of them called it quits half way through. I’m pretty sure one of them just yelled that he quit over his shoulder as he sprinted toward the restroom. The final guy did have a pretty respectable time but it didn’t hold up still.
Brad won a pair of AmeriCAN Beer Fest tickets for his impressive showing.
All in all it was a fun night and we were happy to be there. It was nice to finally be able check off having done a suicide challenge. Yucca Tap Room seems like a nice, relaxed spot to grab a craft beer and maybe some chicken and waffles. Seriously, that shit smelled amazing.
This post was written by Tyler