Next in the series on Big Bull Jerky is this Habanero variety. See my previous review of their Regular.
Big Bull Jerky is a brand of Joes Beef Jerky Enterprises, based out of St. Paul Park, MN, and run by a guy named Joe Hinz. The brand has been around for several years, at least as far back as 2003 according to one reference I found.
This Habanero variety, I presume, is their hottest variety. It actually comes in two styles "Hot 50" and "Hot 100", where the 50 refers to 50 habanero chile peppers in the batch, and the other had 100. Their website doesn't mention the Hot 50 and Hot 100, but you might want to contact Joe and ask about it.
Beef, water, AuJus Mix, [Seasoning (hydrolyzed corn gluten, wheat protein and soy protein, partially hydrogenated soybean and cottonseed oil), hydrolyzed corn protein, salt, shortening (partially hydrogenated soybean oil & cottonseed oil, TBHQ and citric acid), habanero peppers, onion powder, yeast powder, sugar, caramel color, disodium guanylate, disodium inosinate, natural flavorings], contains less than 2% of garlic, spices, salt, paprika (color), dehydrated onion, red pepper, chili pepper, dehydrated onion, dehydrated red & green bell peppers, citric acid, spice extractives, natural flavor, sodium nitrite, red #40 lake.
I'm starting with the Hot 50 variety.
The first thing I taste from the surface of these pieces is a light saltiness, an fried oily flavor (if that makes any sense), and that's about it. Overall a very light tasting surface flavor.
The chewing flavor starts with little else, a slightly stronger saltiness, a bit of that "saucy" flavor that I described in the Regular variety. There's a faint natural meat flavor. I can start to feel a bit of spicy burn brewing in the back of my mouth.
For being dubbed a Habanero variety, this jerky does pack a good deal of heat. It seems to vary from piece to piece, some pieces offer only a light burn, while others dish out moderate amount. On my hot scale, I'd rate this as "mild medium" on an individual piece, and maybe building up to a "medium" over several consecutive pieces. Others with less tolerance might see it as one notch higher.
I don't really find much habanero chile flavor. Here and there, I do pick up faint traces of flavor. These pieces have bits of dried peppers on the surface, and I want to say that the slight bit of flavor comes when I chew down on a dried chunk of habanero.
Moving on to the Hot 100 variety, it seems like it has the same level of heat, at least on an individual piece basis. But as I sit here eating more of this, it seems to build up heat more intensely. Overall, I want to say that it has a "medium" level of heat my hot scale, and will build to a "medium hot" level. It's still largely devoid of habanero chile flavor.
Like with the Regular variety, the flavor that seems to dominate this jerky is that "saucy" flavor, which perhaps stems from that AuJus ingredient. It has a flavor very much like that little cup of salty brown water you get with a prime rib, or a french dip sandwich, except not quite as salty. It's not a strong flavor, it's actually rather light, but it's enough that it provides most of this jerky's flavor.
The natural meat flavors are very light in this. It has a "cooked" flavor, like a well-done cooked steak, or maybe well-well-done. Either way, it's light enough that you may not notice it during general snacking.
The level of saltiness seems light.
Overall, what you're going to taste in this is pretty much the same as the Regular variety, but with some chile pepper burn added in. It's a light "saucy" flavor, with light touches of meat flavor and saltiness.
These are slices of whole meat, sliced medium to thick, and in small to medium sized pieces.
This is a dry jerky, dry enough that it's somewhat brittle. I can bend a piece slightly, and break chunks off. Chewing is quite labored however, and can be rather tiring.
The chewing texture starts out feeling hard, but brittle. It breaks apart easily enough with some biting, but it still provides a lot of hard chewing to get it down to soft mass. But even at a soft mass, it doesn't really feel like steak. It's more crumbly than anything else.
For the most part, there's little fat to be seen on these pieces. They do, however, contain quite a few stringy sinews, but they don't seem to get in the way. I didn't encounter any gristle or tendon.
In terms of clean eating, it's pretty much so. Because it's brittle, you don't really have to rip smaller chunks off, just bend back and forth, and they break off.
Big Bull Jerky sells this Habanero variety at a price of $8.92 for an 8oz package. I bought 3 packages, each a different variety. Add to that shipping of $6.00, and that's a total of $32.76. That works out to $1.37 per ounce.
For general jerky snacking purposes, at the $1.37 price per ounce, it's a fair value. I'm getting only a little bit of snackability from this; it just doesn't provide much flavor, and is rather tiring to eat. But the $1.37 per ounce price is lower than store-bought mass-market jerky. So, I think you're still getting the baseline snack value for this lower price.
As a Habanero variety, at the $1.37 price per ounce, I think it's a decent value. You'll get a good deal of habanero heat eating this, but you won't get much of any habanero flavor. You'll get more burn from this than compared to Oberto's Habanero variety, while getting less flavor, but will still pay less.
I'm giving this a fair value.
This Habanero variety from Big Bull Jerky seems very comparable to their Regular variety, except with plenty of habanero heat added in. Unfortunately, I still couldn't pick up much habanero flavor, either in the Hot 50 or Hot 100 batches. While I do like hot jerky, I particularly want to taste the chile pepper flavor.
For that matter, this Habanero variety gets the same rating as the Regular, which I also rated as "fair". To me, they both have an overall light flavor, consisting largely of a light "saucy" flavor, a light saltiness, and a very light amount of meat flavor, and they're both brittle, stringy, and have a crumbly chew.
The good deal of spicy burn in this habanero variety is nice, but just the burn alone doesn't do much for me, I prefer to the taste the habanero flavors instead.
My recommended beer pairing for this, go for a smooth creamy stout.
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