House of Jerky is a brand that you find in little tourist towns, inside of a small beef jerky shop nestled in between antique dealers and candy stores. Here in Southern California, whereever you find a throw-back old-west village, there's always a beef jerky store that sells exclusively House of Jerky.
The company started in 1997 by a husband and wife team in Temecula, CA (about 15 miles from my home interestingly), but is now headquartered in Evansville, IN. The company is growing quickly, having saw a growth rate of 15% from 2006 to 2007, and did $600,000 in sales last year.
While the company enjoys plenty of success from online sales, they sell a lot of beef jerky through shops and roadside stands all across the USA.
House of Jerky is a brand that I have had on many occasions, but this Sweet & Spicy marks the first entry into Best Beef Jerky. The company makes several varieties, including venison, ostrich, buffalo, alligator, and salmon.
Beef (top round), water, brown sugar, honey, salt, sugar, garlic, black pepper, soy sauce, pineapple juice, cayenne pepper, Tabasco sauce, black pepper, liquid smoke, garlic powder, white pepper.
No sodium nitrite.
The first thing that hits me is a definite sweetness and spiciness. This variety does indeed live up to its billing as being sweet & spicy. It's about as equally sweet as it is spicy. The spiciness seems to come more from the Tabasco Sauce and the cayenne pepper. I can see some flecks of black pepper, and can taste it in the background, but it's largely masked by the other spices.
I can also taste a hint of the garlic powder.
How spicy is it? Not very. I'd put this on the border between mild and medium hot. It provides enough spiciness to give you the enjoyment of hot, without scalding your tongue.
There's also a strong taste of the natural meat flavors.
I also get a sense of freshness with this, coming mostly from the natural meat flavors, which is interesting since this has no preservatives. Note that this jerky comes sealed in an air-tight package, along with an oxygen absorbtion packet.
I don't taste much of the soy sauce in this, which is fine, as I'd rather taste the sweet and spicy in a variety like this.
Overall, this jerky is packed with plenty of sweet and spicy flavors combined with some great natural meat taste.
These appear to be cuts of real beef muscle, sliced in average thickness, and in large, medium, and small pieces.
These pieces are for the most part, dry, with a layering of sticky sweetness. The stickiness is such that you'll lick your fingers. There are some pieces that are more moist. Most of the pieces require a moderate amount of effort to tear apart and chew. They're not tough, but not tender. I found one piece that required some more effort, but still nothing to complain about.
Moist of the pieces have some flecks of fat in them; one particular piece had more than what you'd expect to find in most brands. That's ok by my standards, I like the taste of fat in beef jerky. Others may not like it, preferring absolutely lean beef jerky.
I didn't find any pieces with tendon or gristle.
I paid $8.99 for this 4 ounce bag at a beef jerky shop in Idyllwild, CA. That works out to $2.25 per ounce.
If you were to purchase this directly from House of Jerky (via their website), you'd pay $2.63 per ounce ($10.50 per 4 ounces).
Overall, this provides good value. If it were priced at $1.99 per ounce or less, I'd say it offers a great value. You get some great taste, and a pretty good beef jerky experience, particularly with the natural meat flavors. As a sweet & spicy variety, you're getting a lot of sweet & spicy flavorings.
Moreover, as a beef jerky that contains no preservatives, you're getting something that still offers a fresh-tasting beef jerky.
I'm giving this a "best" rating.
The thick layering of sweet as well as the spiciness in this makes this a tasty snack. But it also manages to offer plenty of natural meat flavors. It's not really "hot" but it definitely offers some spicy bite. Overall, it offers a lot of snackability; I finished off this package and am still wanting more.
The meat consistency overall is pretty good, still being chewy like a jerky should be, but also managing to be easy to tear and apart and chew.
Compared to national brands like Jack Link's and Oberto, I think you're actually getting something a little more sweet and a little more spicy, along with a better meat consistency and chewing texture. It's clearly worth the price.
For my recommended beer pairing, I keep wanting a hoppy red ale, particularly Deschutes Brewing, "Cinder Cone Red".
Originally reviewed June 2, 2008.
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