There are way too many hot sauce names that I love (most should not be written about on a family oriented website ). But I must name one of my favorites-"Smack my *** and Call me Sally" hot sauce. For regular use though, I am a firm believer in Crystal hot sauce .
Is Crystal hot sauce usually hotter than Tabasco (baseline since most people have had Tabasco at some point)? I haven't noticed Crystal at the grocery stores here, but I did try some in New Orleans. I ordered a poorboy and I used up a whole bottle (no exaggeration) of Crystal, but I couldn't taste any heat. I needed the hot sauce because I don't usually eat deep-fried stuff, but I had to have an oyster poorboy. Watered down bottle or is it a mild sauce?
I like sriracha and Melinda's Xtra Hot out of what's locally available for me.
For a medium hot sauce you can actually use, Yucatan Sunshine is a super balance of veg. and fruit undertones with good heat as well. My SO can't open the bottle without taking a "finger-dab".
For really spicing up your life, try Capital Punishment. This is one of those 10/10ths sauces you use by the drop, but it is really neat flavor in chili, beans, soups, dips, etc. Also fun to give a drop to your BIL on a toothpick. He apparently was shocked by the hint of heat before it got on his tongue and inhaled quickly in shock. Think it went down his windpipe and we thought we might lose him for a while there. Oh well, better luck next time.....
ah shoot! Heck, I got hot sauce more than 130 yrs old in the ice box. wicked sh-- is somethin new around here. It kicks ya right up front with wasabi then rips the skin off your mouth and lips with habenaro and reminds ya the next day with cayene. We dipped smoked shrimp and finished with a shot of 4 yr old tequilla. Course I might have everything bassackwards, can't remember.
Risa, to answer your question, I find Crystal Hot Sauce to be a little less hot than tabasco, but I also find it a little less pungnent than tabasco also, which means that you can use it in more delicate items where you want some heat but not all that vinegar flavor, IMHO.
I usually keep a few types of hot sauce around, including some really hot stuff I made and canned about 1 1/2 years ago. It is loosely based on a recipe that is similar to Dave's Insanity Sauce, and contains carrots, bell peppers, habaneros, mustard, onion and mango, all cooked and pureed. This stuff will light you on fire twice, if you know what I mean!!!