Monday, February 2, 2009

The Jerky Guy - Helluvapeno

The Jerky Guy - HelluvapenoFollowing up with my third review of The Jerky Guy is this variety of Helluvapeno, described on the package as "Pure Southwestern Jalapeno Flavor". The Jerky Guy is a brand belonging to Better Than Yours, Inc., based out of Jackson, CA.

Jon Beltran is the "jerky guy" himself, who about 27 years ago experimented with jerky in his backyard smoker until he came up with what he thought was the perfect recipe.

The product literature that came with my jerky purchase says that, "If you like HOT then this is the one for you.", note the use of all capital letters. It goes on to say that this is their traditional jerky, slightly drier. And since I do like hot jerky, I am totally ready for some tongue abuse...


Beef, wine, soy sauce, sugar, salt, natural extracts of garlic, cilantro, black pepper, capsicum, rosemary, onion, cumin, jalapeno pepper.


The flavors I pick up from the surface of these pieces is a vinegar-like aroma, followed by a slight sweet, a slight spicy burn building up in the back of my mouth. I can taste the cumin in a short burst, and faint traces of rosemary. In the chewing, I pick up some saltiness, a tangy flavor, and it seems like I'm getting a garlic/onion aftertaste already.

If I were to chew a piece immediately after putting it into my mouth, the flavors are much more muted. I can get the vinegar-like taste, some spicy burn, the cumin and rosemary, and onion. I can taste other flavors, like the sweet, and tangy, but they are not as easily noticed.

This is a jerky that has a lot of flavor complexity that it needs to be sucked on a bit, then chewed slightly enough to release some flavor, and sucked again, and repeated.

So, is this jerky "HOT" as the package suggests? Well, it does produce a spicy burn on my tongue and the back of my mouth, it's creating some beads of sweat on my scalp. But I wouldn't use all caps when printing the word "hot", maybe using lower-case letters is more appropriate here. I think it's warranted describing this as hot just as a point of caution for general consumers. But for me, it's probably just "medium".

Better yet, does this jerky taste like jalapeno like the "Helluvapeno" name suggests? I do find traces of actual jalapeno chile flavor, but it only comes at the tail end of chewing, just before I start swallowing. But I think that the name Helluvapeno was coined to represent all the spices in this jerky, with some jalapeno flavoring thrown in.

And this in fact VERY flavorful jerky, capital letters noted.

I get the same tangy/vinegar-like flavor that I described in the black pepper variety. And I can also taste traces of the rosemary, and the garlic/onion as well. But I can also taste the cumin, which seems to come somewhere in the mid-point of chewing, after having sucked on a piece for awhile. It's faint in some pieces, and in others it give out a short burst, and then it's gone.

The natural meat flavors are non-existent. There's nothing in here tasting like beef.

The level of sweet seems light. It's primarily noticed in the first few seconds that I put a piece into my mouth. It wears off quickly as the other flavors come into view.

The salt intensity seems moderate. The jalapeno burn will make the saltiness seem higher than it really is. Note the nutrition facts label shows a very high 980mg of sodium per 1 ounce serving. When I talked to Jon Beltran about this, he said that the USDA measured this before the dehydration process. But during the dehydration, some of the marinade and seasonings drip off. He says the actual sodium content is about half of that.

Overall, the dominant flavor of this jerky seems to be that tangy/vinegar marinade flavor. It seems to last for about 1/2 to 2/3 of the way into the chewing. After that, the second-most dominant flavor is perhaps a combination of rosemary, cumin, garlic, and onion seasonings. These flavors tend to come into view about 1/3 of the way into the chewing, and continue to the end.

The third-most dominant flavor is tough to call. I can taste the saltiness pretty well, but the spiciness from the jalapeno, with its traces of natural flavor, is still significant enough that it's worth noting.

Meat Consistency

These appear to be slices of whole meat, sliced to a medium thickness, and in small to medium sized pieces.

It's not necessarily a "drier" jerky that The Jerky Guy describes it as. I still see it as the same as their black pepper and teriyaki varieties, which is somewhere between dry and moist. But it's easy to tear apart, and easy to chew.

The chewing texture doesn't totally feel like real meat. It has that mass-market jerky texture that you might come to find with Oberto, Bridgford, or even Mirab's whole-muscle stuff. For the most part, it's crumbly. It tends to chew down into tiny fragments and granules, or even into a mush, as opposed to a fibrous, steak-like texture. Overall, it's tolerable if you're accustomed to mass-market jerky.

It seems to be clean eating in that I'm not picking up any residue or powders on my fingers, and I'm not really seeing any fragments on my lap or desk.

The pieces appear to be free of any visible fat and gristle. Several pieces seem to contain some membranous connective tissues, but I'm not really getting much in the way unchewable wads of tissue remaining in my mouth.

Snack Value

I paid $5.99 for this 3.5 ounce package directly from The Jerky Guy website. That works out to a price of $1.71 per ounce, putting this into the average price range. But keep in mind there's a $7.95 shipping fee per order. I bought three packages so that worked out to a price of $2.47 ounce, making it an expensive jerky.

For general jerky snacking purposes, at the $2.47 price per ounce, it's a decent value. I'm getting a lot of snackability out of this with its high flavor intensity, high flavor complexity, along with the tangy/vinegar flavor and the rosemary and cumin spices. I'm also partial to hot jerky. This jerky's ease in tearing and chewing also helps its snackability. It's simply that $7.95 shipping that makes it difficult to buy this over and over again. If you can buy this without the shipping fee, it's an excellent value.

As a jalapeno variety, at the same $2.47 price per ounce, it's weak value. That's only because the actual jalapeno flavor is light, while the price is rather high. If all you're looking for is the natural jalapeno flavors, you're not going to find a whole lot. What you WILL find in this jerky is a medium-to-high hotness, and lot of seasonings.


I'm giving this a best rating.

I really like the combination of the tangy/vinegar flavor that comes from the wine marinade, with the rosemary, cumin, onion, and garlic seasonings. The medium-level hotness, with the traces of jalapeno flavor, make this a delicious jerky that I cannot resist.

In a way, this Helluvapeno variety is similar to The Jerky Guy's black pepper variety, in that you have a wine-based marinade with a sharp, spicy seasoning with hints of rosemary, garlic, and onion.

I don't care much for the chewing texture of this jerky. While it's certainly tolerable, it's just not all that steak-like, it's not any better than the mass-market jerky. Not only that, this jerky has no meat flavor to it. Considering how much you'll have to pay to buy this jerky online, you expect better meat.

Still, this jerky won me over with its delicious blend of marinade and seasonings.

For my beer recommendation, I'm tempted to try a smooth, creamy stout.

Rating: Best

Buy this online:
  • Note: The Jerky Guy brand appears to be out of business now.


  1. This Jerky has to be the worst I've ever had. How anyone could taste this and not assimilate it with the garbage brands you can buy at the grocery store or the gas station is beyond me. Based on this blog I bought 4 bags, The peppered and the Helluvapeno. I had to double check it wasnt a dog treat, that it was actually meant for human consumption. I passed it around the office just to see if it was just me (and told no one my opinion) 8 different people tried it and made the same face that I did. One person actually spit it out. So 8 out of 8 folks who tried despised, both the peppered and the helluvapenobadjerky.

  2. Wow... can't believe this got a best rating. Medium hot, but almost no real jalapeno flavor at all and the way it is packaged I was expecting a strong real jalapeno taste. It is soft and tender, but a mass produced beef flavor at best... and I agree with the other Anonymous comment... doesn't taste anything close to quality beef being used here at all.. nothing close to the level of quality I was expecting it to be. I also take exception to being charged $7.95 for shipping when the package it was delivered in cost them $5.35. I would not have cared it was $1.50 more, even up to $1.75 extra to cover their time in packing it, running to the post office, etc., but $2.60 more to deliver less quality than I was expecting? That's just not right.