Next up in the series on New Braunfels Smokehouse beef jerky is this Sweet & Spicy variety. See my previous review of their Peppered beef jerky.
New Braunfels Smokehouse is a smokehouse and restaurant located in New Braunfels, TX. The company's history goes back to 1943, when it originally opened as a ice factory.
Local ranchers used to bring their meats to them for cold storage. A smokehouse employee, who came from Germany, got the idea of smoking some of the meats using an old German recipe. Locals in the area loved the smoked meats, and soon orders started coming in from all over Texas, and the ice factory shifted gears and became a smokehouse.
The company offers several varieties of beef jerky, turkey jerky and pork jerky, all of which I'll be reviewing over the next couple of months.
Beef, water, brown sugar and sugar, salt, spices, garlic and onion powder, soy sauce powder, spice extractive, sodium nitrite.
The first thing I taste from the surface of these pieces is a good deal of sweet, followed by a smoky flavor. I can also pick up a fair amount of saltiness. Overall, the surface has a moderate flavor intensity.
The chewing flavor starts with a sharper saltiness, and a stronger smokiness. I can pick up a fair amount of natural meat flavors, as well as noticeable garlic & onion flavor.
For being advertised as a Sweet & Spicy variety, this certainly has an easily noticed sweetness, and I do pick up a spicy aftertaste. The sweetness is clearly noticeable from the surface flavor to the chewing. But the spiciness only becomes more apparent after eating several pieces. It's not hot at all, but there's definitely a light burn going after eating several pieces. I'd consider it mild-medium on my hot scale, but others could see a step higher at medium. I think a lot of that spiciness is coming from the salt, garlic, and onion, and there's some kind of peppery flavor too, I'm guessing cayenne.
The natural meat flavors easily noticed in this, having a good deal of smokiness. Combined with the saltiness and sweet, it's comparable to a smoked sausage flavor.
The level of saltiness seems to be moderate, even though the nutrition facts label shows a lower-than-average sodium content.
Overall, I think the flavor component you're going to notice the most is the sweet, followed by the saltiness, and then the smoky natural meat flavor. The garlic and onion, and slight pepper adds some color to the overall flavor.
These are slices of whole meat, sliced to a medium thickness, and in medium sized pieces.
This is a dry jerky, but has a semi-moist feel, and in fact there's a fine layer of oil covering these pieces. For the most part, it's a very flexible jerky. It's quite easy to tear apart with the grain, and biting off a chunk against the grain is also fairly easy. Chewing is somewhat easy, just a little bit labored.
The chewing texture starts out feeling stiff, with a bit of rubbery resistance. But it seems to break apart easily, and chews down to a soft mass in 10-15 seconds. At that point, it takes on a steak-like texture, very fibrous, and a little dry.
It's mostly a lean jerky with only small streaks of fat on some pieces. I see no gristle, no tendon, and no stringy sinews.
It's fairly clean eating, just some traces of oil on fingers, but not enough to lick or wipe clean. I found no significant fragments of meat flying off as I tore pieces apart.
New Braunfels Smokehouse sells this Sweet & Spicy variety from its website at a price of $9.50 for a 4oz package. However, I purchased this through their "Jerky Sampler" which gets me six 4oz packages, each a different variety, at a price of $43.95. Add to that shipping costs of $12.95, and it comes to a total of $56.90. That's a per ounce price of $2.37.
For general jerky snacking purposes, at the $2.37 price per ounce, this seems to provide a decent value. I'm getting a good deal of snackability for its good overall flavor, good meat consistency and good chewing texture. It's priced considerably higher than the mass-market brands found in the grocery store, but it's clearly a better flavor and texture.
As a Sweet & Spicy variety, at the same $2.37 price per ounce, it's a fair value as well. I do get a good deal of sweet, and I do pick up a fair amount of spiciness, though that could vary depending on what you consider "spicy". Compared to the mass-market brands, I've found plenty that belt out an equal amount of sweet & spicy flavor, so if that's specifically what you're after, you might find that this higher priced jerky doesn't really deliver a higher amount of sweet & spicy.
I'm giving this a good rating.
This Sweet & Spicy beef jerky from New Braunfels Smokehouse seems to live up to its advertisement as a sweet & spicy jerky, more so with the sweet, while the spicy needs to build up its strength over several pieces. As far as "spicy" is defined, I think this has some cayenne pepper in it, but just a little. I do get a light burn after several pieces, but I also pick up a noticeable garlic & onion flavor.
I also get a light natural meat flavor with a fair amount of smokiness. But that meat flavor doesn't hit me right away, it takes a few chews before it comes on.
The meat consistency seems pretty good, being easy to tear apart, and just a little bit labored in chewing. Meanwhile, the chewing texture feels very steak-like.
I didn't assign a higher "best" rating only because I didn't find any kind of "wow" factor in this. It's basically good jerky, with the light amount of smoky meat flavor, and good chewing texture that sets this apart from the mass-market brands.
My recommended beer pairing for this, go with a simple pale ale.
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