The combination of sweet, salty, and spicy really make meats like pork and chicken sing. I dont like any of those 3 to overpower but rather balance the 3.
For beef I use very little sugar as I don't like sweet beef. I lean more towards the umami flavor profiles.
As for burning, sugar doesn't burn till 350 degrees. That is why even with copious amounts of sugar in a rub, if you smoke anywhere under that, you do not get a burnt taste.The sugar will combine with the liquid fat and help produce a bark however and also the hotter the sugar gets the more color you will get in your bark.
*Weber Mini WSM x2 *
*Weber 22.5in OTG x2 *
*Weber Touch and Go Performer *
*Sublime Smoke UDS*
*Maverick ET-732 * World's Fastest Blue Thermapen *