Hickory's Best is a brand of Enjoy Foods International, based out of Fontana, CA. Read my previous review of their Original variety.
Enjoy Foods also makes the Enjoy brand of beef jerky which I reviewed previously.
The company has been making beef jerky since 1971. In 2000 & 2001 it hit financial difficulty and eventually fell into the hands of a receivership. Today, it continues to operate under Saab Enterprises, which does business as "Enjoy Foods International". In comparing the Enjoy brand with the Hickory's Best brand, it seems Hickory's Best is a lower grade of meat.
Enjoy Foods makes jerky out of its own USDA inspected facility.
Beef, teriyaki sauce, brown sugar, spices, garlic, onion, liquid smoke, sodium nitrite.
The first thing I taste from the surface of these pieces is a sweet flavor. There's a light bit of spicy heat building up. Some saltiness starts coming in.
The chewing flavor starts with a good deal of chile pepper flavor, and a bit more saltiness, while the heat continues to build up strength. Towards the latter end of chewing, I can pick up a little bit of soy sauce.
For being labeled as "Hot", it seems to fit the bill. I'm getting a decent amount of heat, and a good deal of chile pepper flavor. On my personal hot scale, I'd rank this as "medium" (level 3 out of 5). It's probably at the lower-to-middle end of hot for those folks who love hot foods, and probably too hot for those who don't.
The primary flavor that seems to dominate this jerky is the chile pepper flavor. I don't really start tasting it until I get into the chewing, and at that point it seems to last all the way through.
After that, it's a light sweetness that I notice.
Unlike with the brand's Original variety that I reviewed a couple of months ago, I'm not really picking up the dominating garlic & onion flavor in this variety. Rather, I can detect it in lighter amounts, but it seems to sit behind the chile pepper flavor.
I'm not tasting any natural meat flavors in this, though I can identify a faint stale flavor here and there, but only sparingly.
The level of saltiness seems to be at a moderate level.
Overall, what you're going to notice in this is a strong chile pepper flavor, with a medium level of heat, then a light sweetness, and moderate saltiness. After that, little else.
These are slices of whole meat, sliced thin, and in small to medium sized slabs.
This is a dry jerky with a dry surface feel. But these slabs are very flexible, having a rubbery consistency. Some are able to bend all the way around without any cracking, while others are a bit more dry and tend to crack apart. Tearing pieces apart with my fingers seems easy enough, while chewing is a bit labored and chewy.
The chewing texture starts out feeling rubbery or like soft plastic with a fair amount of chewing resistance. Several chews later, and it starts to break down. Once it gets down to a soft mass, it never ends up feeling like real meat, but more mushy and slimy.
Some of these slabs contain some significant chunks or streaks of fat. I didn't see any gristle or tendon, but I did encounter some stringiness in the chewing, and here and there I found some small unchewable wads of tissue.
In terms of clean eating, I found no residue on my fingers, but in tearing these pieces apart, bits of chile pepper fell on to my lap.
I paid $7.75 for this 8oz package at The Beef Jerky Store in Las Vegas, NV. That works out to a price of $0.97 per ounce.
For general jerky snacking purposes, at the $0.97 per ounce price, it's a good value. I'm getting a decent snackability from its satisfying flavor, fairly easy eating, though subpar chewing texture. Yet that price is far lower than what you'd pay for major brands of jerky at a grocery store, and yet the snackability is comparable.
As a Hot beef jerky, at the same $0.97 per ounce price, it's an excellent value. I'm getting a satisfactory level of heat as well as a strong chile pepper flavor. It's probably a little more hot than its counterparts from the major labels, yet about twice as cheap.
I'm giving this an average rating.
This Hot beef jerky from Hickory's Best provides a decent level of heat as well as a strong chile pepper flavor. For a jerky positioned for the discount and bargain bins, it's actually a good buy. I'm probably getting more heat and chile pepper flavor out of this than any of the hot offerings from the major brands. There's even some gourmet brands out there that don't even give you a chile pepper flavor of any kind.
But it's a rather one-sided jerky, offering little other flavor than a light sweet and medium saltiness. You won't even get any natural meat flavors.
And you won't get a decent chewing texture with this feeling rather gummy and slimy.
I opted to give it the 3-star rating instead of the 2-star I gave to the brand's Original variety, mainly because I was pleased how much heat and chile pepper flavor I got from a bulk discount brand. After that, this jerky is actually rather lackluster.
My recommended beer pairing for this, I think a german style doppelbock would taste good. Try the Spaten Optimator or the Ayinger Celebrator.
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