Next in the series on Crazy Horse Beef Jerky is this Sweet variety. See my previous review of their Original beef jerky.
Crazy Horse Beef Jerky is a brand made by Dave Wenrich in Hellam, PA, who started making this brand about nine months ago, based on a old family recipe that he got from his father, who received the recipe from his father, who received it from his father.
Dave smokes all of his jerky from USDA certified bottom round in a homemade smoke house using maple, oak, and fruit woods, and sells it locally in some shops and on his eBay store.
The first thing I taste from the surface of these pieces is a light sweet, followed by a smokiness. I can pick up some saltiness, and a touch of black pepper.
The chewing flavor starts with a good deal of natural meat flavors and more saltiness.
For being dubbed a "Sweet" variety of beef jerky, it does have some sweetness to it. It's perhaps most noticeable upon putting a piece into my mouth, but as I get into the chewing, the smoky, salty, and natural meat flavors take over and the sweetness moves to the back. But I can still taste it in there, and seems to do a job good adding an extra dimension and providing a little more body. You won't find this heavily sweet, just enough to color the overall flavor.
Otherwise, this jerky is much like the Original variety, with a strong smoky, natural meat flavor defining the dominant taste.
It also has the light tanginess in the chewing that the Original variety has.
I think the sweetness does a fair enough job to counter the higher saltiness. Like the Original variety, this Sweet variety has the high saltiness, but I think the sweetness tempers it, letting you still taste it without getting a salt scorching.
Some of these strips contained a bit more black pepper than I found in the Original variety, and I could taste it more. I'm sure that's just a variance from one piece to another and not something specific with this Sweet variety.
Overall, what you're going to notice in this jerky is the smoky, natural meat flavor, with a good deal of saltiness, just like in the Original variety, but with an initial burst of sweet that mixes into the chewing flavors, adding a bit more body.
These are slices of whole meat, sliced to medium thickness, and in strips of about 3-4 inches in length.
This is a dry jerky, with a slightly oily surface feel. The strips have some flexibility to them, but easily crack open with any amount of bending. Tearing pieces apart with my fingers seems easy enough, and chewing seems easy.
The chewing texture starts out feeling dry and coarse, but is soft enough that it chews down without much effort. It has some chewiness to it, but never gives my jaws a workout. Once chewed down to a soft mass, it takes a on a steak-like feel, very comparable to one cooked well-done.
I didn't find much of any fat on these strips as I did on with the Original variety, I didn't find any gristle, tendon, and nothing stringy. I found no unchewable wads of tissue when chewing. It's pretty much all meat.
As for clean eating, my finger tips pick up trace amounts of oil, but not as much as I found with the Original variety.
Crazy Horse Beef Jerky sells this Sweet variety online at a price of $26.99 for one pound. That price includes the shipping. That works out to a price of $1.69 per ounce.
For general jerky snacking purposes, at the $1.69 per ounce price, it's an excellent value. I'm getting a lot of snackability from this. That price is less than what you'd pay at the grocery store for the major brands of jerky, yet it's far superior in flavor, consistency, and chewing texture.
As a Sweet beef jerky, at the same $1.69 per ounce price, it's a decent value. I do get a fair amount of sweet, not strong, not overwhelming, but enough to notice. Still, the price is still is low enough compared to the major brands, that I think you're getting your money's worth.
I'm giving this a best rating.
This Sweet variety from Crazy Horse Beef Jerky is much like the Original variety, in that it's centered around a strong smoky natural meat flavor, but provides some extra sweetness to help color the flavor. I got an initial burst of sweet upon putting a piece into my mouth, and then with the chewing it fades into the mix and gives this jerky more body and balance.
It's easy to tear apart and chew, it still has some chewiness like you'd expect with jerky, but doesn't give my jaws a workout, and still chews like a piece of real meat.
When I wrote the review of the Original variety, I said that I wanted an extra bit of flavor from some other ingredient, and perhaps adding the sweet does it. It adds body to the overall flavor, and even tempers the higher saltiness, but still lets the strong smokiness and natural meat flavors show through.
As for my recommended beer pairing, I'd still go with a smoky porter, just like I recommended for the Original variety, but stick to one with a lighter body, such as the Stone Smoked Porter or the Sierra Nevada Porter.
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