Saturday, March 14, 2009

Jawbone Beef Jerky - Hot

Jawbone Beef Jerky Third in the series on Jawbone Beef Jerky is this Hot variety. See my previous reviews of their Original and Peppered varieties.

The brand is owned by Jawbone Canyon Store, an oasis located along Hwy 14 in the upper Mojave Desert of California, seemingly out in the middle nowhere, surrounded by vast expanses of empty desert. The store has been around since the 1950s, serving off-roaders, campers, hikers, and bikers. The current store owner, Scott Spencer, had wanted to offer his customers a unique jerky that extended his store's brand name, and gave people a reason to stop by.

He hooked up with Monrovia, CA-based KMB Foods, the makers of Cactus Jacks brand of jerky, as well as a private labeler for several other jerky brands.


Beef, sugar, water, vinegar, soy sauce, salt, garlic powder, black pepper, liquid smoke, sodium nitrite.


The first thing I taste off the surface of these pieces is a slight sweetness. About 5-10 seconds into it, I can feel a weak spicy burn. In the chewing, the first taste is a light saltiness, and further along the chewing I can pick some faint meat flavor.

Overall, this jerky seems to have a light flavor intensity, and a low flavor complexity. The surface yields only that slight sweet flavor, not much else. The chewing is also pretty light on taste, mostly a salty flavor, and traces of meat flavor. There's a light garlic aftertaste. That's really about all I'm tasting.

For being a "hot" variety, I do experience a spicy burn in some pieces, but others don't provide any burn at all. The shape of these pieces are such that the chile pepper seasoning collects in the recesses, and that's where you get the intensity. Overall however, I'd rate this as "mild-medium" on my hot scale. But it'll vary between totally mild, to about medium, depending on the pieces.

But in terms of chile pepper flavor, I do pick up traces of it, but only where my teeth bite into a seed.

Still, it seems the saltiness is the primary flavor of this jerky for the most part. It has a medium intensity, and is mostly what I taste throughout the chew.

The natural meat flavors are present, but are light. In some pieces I don't taste it at all. In other pieces it has enough flavor to where I'd consider it the second-most strongest flavor, behind the salt. It's the same flavor I reported in the other Jawbone varieties, with that slight stale flavor. These pieces also have a considerable amount of fat, and I can pick up a fatty flavor from them.

To sum it up, what you're going to get from this jerky is just a slight sweetness from the surface, and a chewing flavor dominated by the saltiness. You'll get some light meat flavors here and there. The chile pepper flavor is mostly absent, but you'll get a light spicy burn. There's a light garlic flavor that sits in the background.

Meat Consistency

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

It appears to be a dry jerky for the most part, but it does have a semi-moist feel. The pieces crack apart easily with some bending. It's fairly easy to tear apart with my fingers, and somewhat chewy.

The chewing texture starts out stiff like most jerky, and takes about 20-30 seconds before it starts to feel like meat. It's chewy with some rubbery resistance for most of those seconds, but eventually gets to a point where it has a steak-like feel, similar to being cooked medium-rare. But I don't get any mushy, gummy, or crumbly texture.

Tearing pieces apart causes many of the chile pepper flakes and seeds to fall off. But otherwise, my fingers don't pick up any sticky residue.

I see quite a bit of fat on these pieces. I also found one piece with a significant streak of gristle with a tough rubbery chew. But none of the pieces left wads of unchewable tissues in my mouth.

Snack Value

Jawbone Canyon Store sells this hot variety for a price of $7.00 per 3.65oz bag. That works out to a price of $1.92 per ounce, putting this in the average price range, but at the upper end.

For general jerky snacking purposes, at this $1.92 price per ounce, it has a weak value. I'm not getting a lot of snackability out of this, only just some. The low flavor intensity and low flavor complexity, combined with that chewiness and slight stale meat flavor, all contributes towards keeping my interest asleep. While the price you'll pay for this jerky is higher, but not too high, I'm still not seeing a lot of return on investment.

As a hot variety, at this $1.92 price per ounce, it's a poor value. I just don't see this as a hot variety. While I do get a light burn in some pieces, it's erratic with other pieces not being hot at all, and it doesn't provide much chile pepper flavor at that. If you've developed a tongue for spicy hot jerky, you're not going get much satisfaction from this.


I'm giving this a fair rating.

At this point, it all comes down to snackability. Is this a jerky that beckons me to eat more and more? I just don't get that feeling from it. It's more like apathy, where I'll eat it if it's put out in front of me, but otherwise if I had to make a decision on what jerky to eat, I wouldn't choose this.

The overall flavor is light, and the flavor complexity is low. To some degree it's bland. For the most part, all I'm really getting out of this is saltiness. That's largely 80% of the flavor you're going to get out of this. After that, it's a light sweetness off the surface, and some light meat flavors here and there. To a lesser degree, some chile pepper flavor where your teeth bite into a seed, and a light garlic background.

Add to that the fat that seems to show up on most of the pieces, and some gristle, and the slight stale meat flavor, and it ends up building disinterest. That slight stale meat flavor would be ok if this jerky had more flavor. As it is, the low flavor allows that staleness to become more pronounced.

Plus I don't feel this jerky stands up to its advertised flavor. If you're sensitive to spicy hot foods, then perhaps this is indeed hot. But then again only those people who've developed a tolerance for hot foods will buy something labeled, "hot". So in that case, make it hot!

I think a good beer to pair up with is an IPA.

Rating: Fair

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