By René Kraus Explore Big Sky Contributor

Living in Montana and not enjoying barbeque sauce would be a little like living here and not hiking or skiing. I faced this dilemma for years before finding a solution – to develop my own sauce.

I enjoy cooking outdoors, and I particularly look forward to eating Montana meat prepared on the grill. Barbeque sauce is a natural complement, but I always avoided it, never appreciating the sweetness and stickiness of most commercial barbeque sauces, even though others in my family love it.

Was there a compromise? Was it possible to find an alternative sauce – one I could embrace?

So one day I set out like a mad scientist, taking over the kitchen, spreading ingredients across the counters, mixing batch after batch of different combinations. I eliminated some recipes immediately, put others on hold, reinforced some experiments with more of something, less of something else, and so on. The process went on for weeks, and I enlisted anyone who came near the house for feedback and suggestions.

Somewhere in the process, I realized this was more than a family experiment. I wanted to go big. I needed to come up with a distinctive name and look – I knew I’d need good marketing to survive among a heady mix of competitors.

My barbeque sauce was going to be a cut above the others, yet it would have wide appeal: One morning the name came to me – Society Sauce Company.

Back in the kitchen, working on batch 236, I was close to what I thought was the perfect recipe. Testing this sauce that night on slow-cooked beef brisket, I knew from the satisfied – yes, delighted – looks on those around the dinner table that I had finally come up with a distinctive, bold barbeque sauce.

The long hours of work in the kitchen, not to mention those needed to complete the requirements for Montana food licensing, were about to pay off.

Soon, instead of giving away samples to neighbors and friends, I was getting requests from chefs and markets asking to buy the product. Society Sauce Company was on its way!

You can buy Society Sauce Company sauces at select shops in Big Sky including Hungry Moose Market and Gourmet Gals, as well as online. For more information about Society Sauce Company, visit societysaucecompany.com. For details about small businesses and startups in Montana, visit madeinmontana.gov.