Tuesday, February 10, 2009

KC's Old Style Beef Jerky - Hot & Spicy

KC's Old Style Beef Jerky - Hot & SpicyKC's Old Style Beef Jerky is produced by KC's Old Style, Inc., out of Vancouver, WA. According to the brand's website, it's staffed by a small four-person business headed by a guy named KC Mittleider.

The best I can tell it's made by KC Mittleider himself, but it's not clear to me that it's made in a USDA inspected facility. When I reviewed their teriyaki variety, I had placed a phone call KC's but haven't yet received a response.

It appears that all the flavors offered by KC's Old Style Beef Jerky are based on the application of special glazes, and not so much on different marinades. That is, all varieties are the same jerky and same marinade, it's just the outer glaze that provides the teriyaki versus the peach BBQ versus hot & spicy, etc.


100% USDA beef, brown sugar, worcestershire, soy sauce, onion & garlic powders.


The flavors I pick up from the surface of these pieces is a strong sweet, a smokiness, a slight salty, a little bit of worcestershire, and a slight burn is starting to form. In the chewing, I pick up a strong natural meat flavor, more sweet, and more of the worcestershire and soy sauce.

In this hot & spicy variety, it seems like the worcestershire and soy sauce are more noticeable than in the peach BBQ and teriyaki varieties I reviewed earlier. Some of that worcestershire can be tasted off the surface, with a little bit more in the chewing flavor.

So, is this hot & spicy like the label suggests? Yes, it seems it is. I'm getting a decent spicy burn on the tongue and in the back of my mouth. I'd rate it at a medium level "hotness". I don't particularly taste the unique flavors of chile peppers, I only feel their burn. The exception is that there are a few chile seeds that I can see, and these provide a weak chile pepper flavor.

But it seems like the overall dominant taste of this jerky is still the natural meat flavors with its associated smoky aroma. I get the smokiness initially when putting a piece into my mouth, with the meat flavors coming out with the first chew and lasting all the way to swallowing. The worcestershire and soy sauce are detectable inside the meat flavors, giving it a nice highlight.

The sweetness is the second-most dominant flavor, giving you a good burst of flavor off the surface, and then remaining noticeable inside the meat flavor.

The hot & spicy is also very noticeable, but not so much as a flavor but as a burn in my mouth. I'm not certain that counts as dominant flavor, but it's certainly something that stands out.

I think the onion & garlic powder is more noticeable in this hot & spicy variety than in the peach BBQ and teriyaki varieties I reviewed before. They're still light flavors that exist mostly as an aftertaste.

The saltiness seems fairly light, but still noticeable. The spicy burn seems to make the saltiness more intense than it really is.

Meat Consistency

These appear to be chunks of whole meat, sliced thick, and in bite-sized pieces.

It's a moist jerky, rather soft, and easy to chew.

The chewing texture seems very steak-like, similar to a steak cooked medium, or even medium-rare. It has the same fibrous, meaty quality, and similar juiciness too.

These pieces also seem to contain a fair amount of chewy connective tissues in every piece, which is unlike the peach BBQ and teriyaki varieties I reviewed before. I'm sure it's nothing specific to the variety, it's just a hit or miss thing with each package.

I also found a few chunks and streaks of fat on some pieces, but nothing that altered the taste.

These pieces are also covered in a sweet glaze that remains on my fingers, and require some licking before touching anything else.

Snack Value

I paid $6.00 for this 4 ounce package of teriyaki from KC's website. That works out to a price of $1.50 per ounce, putting this into the average price range. But there was a shipping fee of $5.49, and I actually bought three different flavors in total (12 ounces). That all comes out to a price per ounce of $1.96, just on the border of average and expensive.

For general jerky snacking purposes, at the $1.96 price per ounce, I think it offers a good value. I find a great deal of snackability in this jerky with its strong smoky and sweet natural meat flavor, and it's excellent chewing texture. This jerky has a lot of flavor intensity, and even a good deal of flavor complexity, being able to identify the worcestershire, garlic & onion seasoning more clearly in this variety than in KC's other varieties.

As a hot & spicy, at the same $1.96 per ounce price, I think it offers a decent value. It does seem to live up to this advertised billing, but for the medium-level hotness, and the lack of actual chile pepper flavor, the $1.96 per ounce price seems high if that's all you're looking for. But if you can combine that with a great natural meat flavor and great chewing texture, you'll find the hot & spicy flavoring is only the icing on the cake.


I'm giving this a best rating.

This hot & spicy variety from KC's Old Style Beef Jerky has a lot of good things going for it. It's got a great natural meat flavor seasoned with a strong smokiness, a noticeable sweet, and noticeable levels of worcestershire and soy sauce. The heavy sweet glaze will give you a burst of flavor initially, while the smokiness and spicy hot burn starts to work. Then in the first chew you'll get a great taste of this meat's natural flavors.

The chewing texture is excellent, it's just like eating a medium cooked steak, or even perhaps cooked medium-rare, with the same fibrous quality and a good deal of juiciness. It's easy to eat, and not all that chewy.

The only negative I can point out is that each chunk of meat seemed to contain some chewy pieces of connective tissue, maybe tendon or something. I don't consider this to be a minor issue, it does detract substantially from my overall enjoyment. But I'm guessing that this is still a "hit or miss" issue because other varieties I've had from KC's contained far less of this chewy stuff.

Otherwise, it scores well on a variety of characteristics, having a strong natural meat flavor, living up to its advertised flavor, easy to eat, great chewing texture, strong flavor intensity, good flavor complexity, not overly salty, and overall great snackability.

I'd pair this up with a light tasting ale, like a cream ale or honey blonde ale.

Rating: Best

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