Next in the series on Mountain Ranch Jerky is this Sweet & Spicy beef jerky. See my previous reviews of their other varieties.
Mountain Ranch Jerky is a brand of Mountain Ranch Smokehouse located in Fruitland, UT. While the company is mostly known for its jerky products, they also smoke hams and turkeys, and make meat sticks too. They even have a restaurant where you can get yourself a burger or steak.
Mountain Ranch claims that all their jerky is cut by hand, and smoked over real mesquite wood. They make jerky in their own USDA inspected facility.
Beef, salt, brown sugar, monosodium glutamate, spices, paprika, onion/garlic powder, natural smoke flavoring, spice extractives, sodium nitrite.
The first thing I taste from the surface of these pieces is a light sweet flavor, and then a faint smokiness mixed in. I also taste a little saltiness.
The chewing flavor starts with a slightly increased smokiness and a bit more saltiness. I can pick up a light bit of natural meat flavor.
For being labeled as "Sweet & Spicy", it has a noticeable sweet, but I'm not totally sold on the spicy part. The sweet is at a moderate amount, and not as heavily sweet as I would like Sweet & Spicy jerky to be. But the spiciness is rather weak in my opinion. It's mostly some black pepper that I taste, and a lighter blend of onion & garlic. There's no heat to this at all.
The natural meat flavors are noticeable but not as noticeable as in Mountain Ranch's Original variety. I think the extra sweetness is masking that flavor. The same with the smokiness, it's there but harder to find behind the sweet.
The onion & garlic seasoning is noticeable in the background, just enough to add a bit of extra flavor interest.
The level of saltiness in this seems moderate.
It's difficult to determine which one specific ingredient has the dominant flavor in this jerky. The sweet lingers throughout much of the chewing, and could perhaps be the one flavor that is most noticeable. Otherwise, the natural meat flavors, the smokiness, and the onion & garlic seasoning, all seem to share equal attention.
But as for being "Sweet & Spicy", it's more sweet, but less spicy, and no heat at all.
These are slices of whole meat, sliced medium to thick, and in medium sized slabs.
This is a dry jerky, but having an oily surface feel, perhaps due to the vacuum packaging drawing the oils up to the surface. The pieces have a bit of flexibility, but easily crack apart with little bending. Tearing pieces apart with my fingers is easy to do, and chewing seems moderately easy.
The chewing texture starts out feeling stiff, but can be easily bent and chewed down. It takes about 15 seconds before it's chewed down to a soft mass. At that point, it has something of a steak-like chewing texture, but rather crumbly.
This jerky appears to be very lean in that I don't see any bits of fat. I didn't encounter any gristle or tender, or wind up with any unchewable wads of tissue, but I do feel a fair amount of stringiness.
As for clean eating, handling this jerky leaves some oils on my fingertips, enough that I have to lick and wipe them off before touching my keyboard. Otherwise, tearing pieces apart doesn't create any tiny bits of meat flying off.
Mountain Ranch Smokehouse sells this Sweet & Spicy beef jerky from its website at a price of $5.99 for a 3.5oz package. I bought six packages, each a different variety, with $2.99 shipping, which brings a total of $38.93. That works out to a price of $1.85 per ounce.
For general jerky snacking purposes, at the $1.85 per ounce price, this seems to provides an decent value. I'm getting an average amount of snackability from an overall decent flavor, good meat consistency, and fair chewing texture. The $1.85 price per ounce is the same price you'd pay for the national brands at the grocery store, but you'll get a comparable snackability.
As a Sweet & Spicy variety at the same $1.85 per ounce price, it's a fair value. I get a good deal of sweet, but not much spiciness. There's no heat in this that I can tell, just some black pepper flavor.
I'm giving this an average rating.
This Sweet & Spicy variety from Mountain Ranch Smokehouse provides an easily noticeable sweetness that seems to last throughout much of the chewing, but just not enough spiciness. The only spicy flavor I seem to pick up is some black pepper, otherwise no heat at all.
It provides some light smoky natural meat flavors, and an onion & garlic seasoning flavor, but they tend to get covered over by the stronger sweet to the point where it's more difficult to identify them. Overall, the flavor seems quite comparable to the garden variety sweet & spicy jerky you get some the major brands.
But if anything sets this jerky apart from the major brands, it's the better meat consistency, chewing and feeling more like real meat, though still a bit on the crumbly side. But still, it's not enough in my opinion to consider this jerky above average.
For my recommended beer pairing, I think a simple brown ale would work well, matching the roasted malt with the natural meat flavor, and the lighter body contrasting the heavier sweet in this jerky. Try a Newcastle Brown Ale or a Lost Coast Downtown Brown.
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