Next in the series on Monty's Smoked Beef Jerky is this Red Hot Sweetie variety. See last week's review of their Tenderfoot.
Monty's Smoked Beef Jerky is a new contender in the world of gourmet beef jerky, having entered the market earlier this year. It's a family run business run by Robyn Raile, her husband Tim, and her brother Wade.
The brand originally started out as Monte Nuss Beef Jerky in a little store in Littleton, CO back in 1996. After Nuss closed shop, he sold it to Wade, who then moved the business to Bird City, KS, and relaunched it as Monty's Smoked Beef Jerky.
Beef, soy sauce, water, sugar, natural hickory smoke flavoring, red pepper sauce, black pepper, salt, garlic, onion, herbs, spices.
The first thing I taste from the surface of these pieces is a smoky flavor, followed by a light salty, and a light sweet. There's a moderate chile pepper burn building up. Overall, a moderate level surface flavor intensity.
The chewing flavors starts out with an increased smoky flavor and some natural meat flavors. There's a bit more saltiness, and the chile pepper burn continues to build.
The company describes this particular Red Hot Sweetie variety as "The sweetest things in life are more interesting with a little spice, like teriyaki and red pepper flakes". Except I don't really taste any teriyaki in this, unless they're referring to the use of soy sauce and sugar. But that combo doesn't necessarily equate to true teriyaki. But there is indeed light sweet flavor to this jerky, most noticeable in the surface flavors.
As for the red pepper flakes, they're certainly visible on these pieces, and they do register a well-noticed burn, one that ranks on my hot scale as a medium-hot for a single piece, and increasing to hot over several pieces. I get some moisture percolating up through my scalp and forehead, and my eyes are little misty, but it's not so hot that I have to pause in between pieces.
But I'm not really tasting much of the red pepper in this. Here and there I do encounter a burst of flavor as my teeth bite into a seed. I picked up a chile pepper seed from this jerky and bit through it just by itself, and found a moderate level of flavor.
Otherwise the flavor that seems to show up the most in this are the natural meat flavors with a good deal of smokiness. The company uses a combination of smoking over real hickory wood, and then adding an additional layer of smoke flavoring. The addition of soy sauce seems to work well to just bring out some meat flavor without actually tasting too much of the soy sauce itself.
There's also an oily flavor to this, that seems to enhance the sense of tasting meat.
The salt intensity is at a moderate level.
There's also the same amount of garlic & onion seasoning flavor in this that I can taste, just as with the Tenderfoot variety.
Overall, what you're going to taste in this is a smoky, natural meat flavor, with a light amount of sweet, a light taste of chile pepper here and there, but with a good deal of chile pepper burn. Finally a light amount of salt, garlic, and onion seasoning.
These are slices of whole meat, sliced into thin strips of about 4-6 inches long and about 1/4 to 1/2 inch wide.
This is a dry jerky, but with a lot of oil on the surface. It's fairly easy to bite chunks off of these strips, while chewing is just a bit labored but overall easy.
The chewing texture starts out feeling stiff, a little brittle, but breaks apart with a light amount of biting. Once its chewed down to a soft mass, it has something of a steak-like texture, but a little crumbly. By contrast, the Tenderfoot variety I had was more crumbly, with a little bit of a steak-like texture.
I didn't notice any pieces of fat on these strips, and found no tendon, gristle, stringy sinews or other unchewable wads of tissue. It seems to be pure meat.
As for clean eating, it's very oily. Each handling requires a finger licking and wiping on my jeans.
Monty's Smoked Beef Jerky sells this Red Hot Sweetie variety from its website at a price of $24.50 for an 8oz package. If you buy two packages, the shipping comes out to $9.60 (if sent to Southern California), for a total of $58.60. That works out to a price of $3.66 per ounce.
For general jerky snacking purposes, at the $3.66 price per ounce, it's a weak value. I actually find it to be very snackable for its great overall flavor, good meat consistency and good chewing texture. It's just that the $3.66 price per ounce is very expensive as far as gourmet jerky goes. While I think you'll get a good deal of snackability, I'm not sure it's so heavenly to justify that high of a price.
As a sweet & hot variety of jerky, at the same $3.66 price per ounce, it's a fair value. It's more hot than it is sweet, belting out a good burn, but only a light sweet, and yet only traces of chile pepper flavor. But if you're tired of buying jerky labeled "hot" and only getting something faintly hot, I think you'll be pleased with this.
I'm giving this a best rating.
This Red Hot Sweetie variety from Monty's Smoked Beef Jerky provides a good deal of chile pepper burn with a light sweet flavor. But it wins with its smoky natural meat flavors. It's actually quite comparable to the Tenderfoot variety I reviewed last week, but provides more taste interest with that extra layer of sweet, the heat from the peppers, and there's even a faint burst of chile pepper flavor as I bit into a seed.
The meat consistency and chewing texture is also comparable to the Tenderfoot variety as well, however it seems the chewing texture was a little bit more steak-like in this Red Hot Sweetie, and little less crumbly. I imagine it really has nothing to do with one variety over the other, and just differences in the batches. But, that's what I encountered.
The heavy amounts of oil on the surface of these pieces may be a turn off to some, but I don't seem to mind.
To sum it up, it's really the smoky natural meat flavors that I find favorable with Monty's Smoked Beef Jerky, which provides a great base for just about any flavor variety they can come up with. As long as they can keep the chewing texture from straying over to the crumbly side, Monty's will be tough to beat.
A good beer for this I think would be a pale ale.
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