Next in the series on Wild Bill's is this Sweet 'N Smokin' variety. See my previous review of their Hickory Smoked.
Wild Bill's is a brand of Monogram Food Solutions based out of Memphis, TN. The company has been around since 1955, starting out as "Balwell's Butcher Shop". Balwell's started offering meat snacks in 1983.
The brand offers several lines of jerky, including a Premium line, as well as Tender Tips, and shredded jerky. What I'm reviewing here is from their "Tender Tips" line.
Beef, seasoning (dextrose, jalapeno, salt, onion and garlic powder, hydrolyzed corn protein, spices, mustard, artificial flavor, not more than 2% calcium silicate and soybean oil to prevent caking), brown sugar, sodium nitrite. (sprayed with potassium sorbate to help protect quality).
The first thing I taste from the surface of these pieces is a light sweetness, a faint jalapeno flavor, a light spicy tingle in the back of my mouth. With some sucking I get a light saltiness.
In the chewing, I first taste a little more salt, the same level of sweet, the same level of jalapeno flavor, and the spicy burn heats up a little more.
For being labeled, "Sweet 'N Smokin'", I'd say that it does have a sweet and hot quality, and perhaps does live up to that description. The sweetness seems to be medium in intensity. And as far as being hot is concerned, I'd actually rate it as medium on my hot scale. But overall, I think it still has enough of the sweet and hot to warrant the "Sweet 'N Smokin'" description.
That jalapeno flavor I described above remains a light flavor after eating several pieces. It's the flavor of raw jalapenos, not the pickled flavor.
The level of saltiness seems low, though the spicy burn can make it seem more saltier than it is.
There's a light garlic flavor noticeable in this.
Overall, the primary flavor you're going to taste in this is the sweetness, which lasts from the surface, and runs all the way through the chewing. You'll get a fair amount of heat, and a light taste of raw jalapeno flavor.
These appear to be slices of whole meat, sliced medium to thick, and in strips ranging from 2 to 5 inches.
Some pieces are dry, while others are semi-moist. The dry pieces tend to be tougher and chewier, and require a bit of effort to bite off. The semi-moist pieces are easy to chew.
The chewing texture for the soft pieces starts out feeling tender, and chews down fairly easily enough. Once its down to a soft mass, it tends to feel a bit mushy, though still a little bit fibrous. Whereas the dry pieces tend to feel stiff, and require some labored chewing. Once down to a soft mass, it feels crumbly. Overall, neither types of pieces have a steak-like quality.
For the most part, this jerky seems lean, though here and there I encountered some chewy and stringy tissues. Otherwise, I don't really see any pieces of fat, or feel any crunchy gristle.
It's also fairly clean eating, no residue picking up on my fingers, and no meat fragments flying off.
Wild Bill's sells this Hickory Smoked variety from its website at a price of $5.25 for a 3.25oz package. I bought two packages, each a different flavor. Add to that shipping costs of $6.50, and it came out to a price of $17.00. That's a per ounce price of $2.62.
For general jerky snacking purposes, at the $2.62 price per ounce, it's a weak value. I get a low level of snackability from this, due to an "ok" flavor, and subpar chewing texture. That $2.62 price per ounce is considerably high compared to mass-market brands at the grocery store. If you can find this in the store, and not have to pay shipping, it's a fair value at best.
As a "Sweet 'N Smokin'" variety, at the same $2.62 price per ounce, it's a weak value as well. Even though I do pick up the sweet & hot qualities, they're in moderate levels, and not worth this higher price. Maybe if you bought this at the store, and didn't have to pay shipping, it might be worth the expense just to try something new.
I'm giving this a fair rating.
This "Sweet 'N Smokin'" variety seems to do a satisfactory job of providing some sweet and some heat, but at moderate levels. If anything, the heat may be more intense than the sweet. Folks not used to eating hot foods may definitely see this as "hot".
Otherwise, it's largely dominated by two flavors, the sweet and a light raw jalapeno flavor, which is backed up by a light saltiness and faint garlic. I think it's a satisfactory flavor in general, but I just didn't find it exciting.
While I think it's easy to eat, I didn't find the chewing texture to be all that great. Some pieces are mushy, while others are crumbly. I never got anything that provided a steak-like chew.
I think a good beer to pair up with this is any kind of wheat beer.
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