Next in the series on Insane Jerky is this Sweet & Spicy beef jerky. See my previous reviews of their Original and Jamaican Style varieties.
The company, based in Ashburn, VA was founded by Atta Khan, who wanted to bring beef jerky to the muslim community, through the use of halal certified beef. Halal is a term used to identify products that are brought into line with Sharia law. With respect to food, it's like the muslim equivalent of kosher.
Recently Insane Jerky changed meat processors, and tweaked the recipe. I had done a couple of reviews of their older product, which I gave out "dog treats" rating to, based on a very tough meat consistency, and a near-flavorless taste. But I've found that this new meat processor and new recipe has turned the brand into the right direction.
Zabihah/Halal beef, soy sauce (water, protein extracts from soy beans, salt, corn syrup, caramel color, potassium sorbate), sugar, smoke flavor (liquid), spices, garlic powder.
The first thing I taste from the surface of these pieces is a smoky flavor, followed soon by a soy sauce flavor. There's a fair amount of sweet and a light saltiness.
The chewing flavor starts with a bit more definition from the soy sauce, and tad more sweet. The smokiness is still there, and there's a light natural meat flavor.
For being sold as a "Sweet & Spicy" beef jerky, it's got a good deal of sweet, but not much any spiciness.
The sweet is at a moderate intensity, being there on the surface flavors and in the chewing. And it seems to last all throughout the chewing. But the spiciness lacks. I can pick up a weak spiciness in the background, but not enough in my opinion to warrant the "Spicy" description on the package label. It's a just weak tingle back there, and I can't really taste what spices they are.
There's a dominant soy sauce flavor in this, and I'd say that's the flavor you'll notice the most. But despite the stronger soy sauce flavor, it's not really that salty. The saltiness seems to be at a moderate intensity.
As for the smoky natural meat flavor, the smokiness seems to be stronger than the meat flavor. It's a light meat flavor, but still strong enough to easily notice.
I can sense a light garlic flavor in the garlic background.
Overall, what you're going to notice in this is a strong sweet flavor and a strong soy sauce flavor. The smokiness is very evident, with a lighter natural meat flavor. But I don't think you'll pick up much spiciness.
These are slices of whole meat, cut to a medium thickness, and in small pieces.
This review sample is a semi-moist jerky, with a sticky oily surface feel. Pieces are easy to tear apart with my fingers, and ease of chewing seems moderate.
The chewing texture starts out with a rubber-like feel, with a bit of initial chewing resistance. It eventually breaks down into something meaty easily enough. Once chewed down to a soft mass, it has a steak-like texture, comparable to one cooked-medium.
For the most part, this jerky appears to be all meat, with just a few pieces having small flecks of fat. I did not see any tendon or gristle, and I did not encounter anything unchewable, or anything stringy.
In terms of clean eating, my fingers pick up a good deal of sticky and oily residue. I have to lick my fingers clean before touching my keyboard.
Insane Jerky sells this Sweet & Spicy variety from its website at a price of $4.49 per 2oz package. If you bought eight packages (1 pound), the shipping costs comes out to $3.94 if shipping to Southern California. That works out to a total of $39.86, or a price of $2.49 per ounce.
For general jerky snacking purposes, at the $2.49 price per ounce, it seems to provide a decent value. I'm finding a good deal of snackability for it's semi-moist chewing, and steak-like texture, and an overall good flavor. That $2.49 price per ounce is higher than what you'd pay for the national brands at a grocery store, but it's definitely a better jerky.
As a Sweet & Spicy at the same $2.49 price per ounce, it's a weak value. While I'm getting a good deal of sweet, I'm not getting much spiciness. I've found more spiciness in the national brands, though not necessarily a better overall flavor in the national brands. But still, if you bought this specifically because you wanted Sweet & Spicy jerky, I think it'll be a disappointment.
But it's really as a halal-certified beef jerky that you'll get the most value. From what I can see, there aren't many halal beef jerky brands out there, and they all seem to be priced similarly. So, I think it's a good value, considering it has a good taste and consistency.
I'm giving this a good rating.
This Sweet & Spicy variety from Insane Jerky offers an overall good flavor through a smoky natural meat flavor, a strong sweet, and a soy sauce marinade. It doesn't really have much spiciness, though I do pick up a weak spicy tingle in the background. But for what it has to offer, I enjoyed it quite a bit and found myself wanting to keep eating more and more.
For the most part, it's easy to eat with its bite-sized pieces and semi-moist consistency. It has some initial chewing resistance, but once chewed down to a soft mass, it feels just like eating a piece of real meat.
This Sweet & Spicy beef jerky is actually quite comparable to Insane Jerky's Original variety, just with more sweet. What's interesting is that the addition of sugar didn't impact the nutritional content. The nutrition labels of both this Sweet & Spicy and the Original varieties are identical, with zero carbs. How'd they do that?
As for my recommended beer pairing, I'd go with a brown ale.
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