Next in the series on Cherry's Bad Ass Beef Jerky is this Spicy variety. See last week's review of Cherry's Mild variety.
Cherry's Bad Ass Beef Jerky is run by Cherry Kelln of Dallas, TX. Cherry started making jerky several years ago and then after going jobless decided to make a business out of making jerky. It's a new business, with Cherry launching an e-commerce website only last June.
This Spicy variety has slices of pickled jalapenos laid on top and deyhydrated in place with the meat. Cherry describes this jerky as being made with the same marinade as her Mild variety, but adds in the pickled jalapeño juice. And then after that, bastes the juice on the meat again.
None provided, but a blog post at Thrillist says she uses a marinade base of cayenne powder, worcestershire, soy, and liquid smoke.
The first thing I taste from the surface of these pieces is a light meaty flavor, followed by a faint spiciness, and light saltiness.
The chewing flavor starts with a light natural meat flavor that quickly gives way to that vinegary pickled jalapeno juice along with some spicy heat.
For being labeled "Spicy", it definitely is spicy. I'm getting a fair amount of heat in this but not quite what I would consider hot. On my personal hot scale, I'd rank this as medium (level 3 out of 5). I can taste the pickled jalapeno flavor along with its vinegar which adds more of that spicy character, and there seems to be more spicy seasoning, perhaps cayenne added after the marination.
I also took a bite with a slice of jalapeno on it just to see if that slice added any flavor and sure enough it did, giving it more of that pickled jalapeno flavor and more heat as well.
The natural meat flavors are not quite as noticeable as in Cherry's Mild variety. It does make a light showing in the initial chewing but gives way as soon as the pickled jalapeno juice flavor comes in.
The tanginess in the chewing that I thought defined the Mild variety is also here in the Spicy variety, and I can also still get a bit of that worcestershire, but the pickled jalapeno juice mixes into that flavor and makes it less discernable. You pretty much have to compare this Spicy and the Mild side by side to know the worcestershire is still there.
The flavor that seems to dominate this jerky seems to be the pickled jalapeno flavor and the cayenne together. But you still get that tanginess in the chewing, it's just less discernable as worcestershire.
The level of saltiness seems to be higher also, perhaps feeling at a medium level.
Overall what you're going to notice in this is a spicy combination of pickled jalapenos and cayenne pepper with a tanginess that comes a few seconds into the chewing producing a medium level of heat. You'll still get a light natural meat flavor initially until the tanginess comes along, and then a medium level of saltiness.
These are slices of whole meat, sliced thin, and in medium to large slabs.
This is a dry jerky with a dry surface feel. Unlike with the Mild variety, this Spicy is not quite as brittle. You still get that crunchy, crispy bite, but just more chewiness, which could be caused by the vinegar in the pickled jalapeno juice. But it still tends to toughen up as it chews down.
The chewing texture starts out feeling light and crispy with no initial chewing resistance. It chews down to a soft mass pretty quickly, but by that point it gets a little more tough to chew. The meat fibers seem to compact into a tougher wad instead of chewing like a real piece of steak. But I think the more chewy consistency of this Spicy variety leaves it feeling more like a steak than the Mild variety, but it's still dry like an over-cooked steak.
I can see a fair amount of fat on each piece and each piece has gristle running through it. And because this Spicy variety is a little more chewy than the Mild, that gristle is now more rubbery and makes for some less-than stellar chewing. The gristle wants to pull off in one long string instead of bite off as in the Mild.
In terms of clean eating, my fingers don't seem to pick up any residue but I'm getting a lot of tiny meat fragments flying off as I bite off chunks.
Cherry's Bad Ass Beef Jerky sells this Spicy variety from its website at a price of $15.00 for a 4oz package. I bought three packages, one of each flavor. Add to that shipping costs of $9.00 and it brings the total to $54.00 for 12oz of jerky. That works out to $4.50 per ounce.
For general jerky snacking purposes, at the $4.50 per ounce price, it's a weak value. I actually do get more snackability in this than compared to the Mild, thanks to the jalapeno flavor and increased seasoning, though that's still tempered by the rubbery gristle all throughout these slabs. But that price is very high for jerky, and yet it's not backed up by a very high snackability.
As a Spicy beef jerky, at the same $4.50 per ounce price, it's also a weak value. I do in fact get a good deal of spiciness in this, but I can get the same spiciness or even better for half the price in other brands, and without the gristle running through it.
I'm giving this an average rating.
This Spicy variety from Cherry's Bad Ass Beef Jerky seems to provide a better snackability through an overall better flavor than it's Mild variety thanks to the addition of pickled jalapenos, and what appears to be a coating of cayenne pepper on the surface. It's largely just the Mild variety but with added flavors.
Compared to the Mild variety this Spicy is not quite as brittle, being a little more chewy perhaps due to the vinegary jalapeno pickling juice being added to the marinade. This jerky still actually retains its initial crunchiness which I think makes for some fun snacking. But while it chews more like you expect jerky to chew, it only makes the gristle in these slabs more rubbery and more of a hindrance.
Considering I paid $4.50 per ounce on this order, which puts it at among the most expensive jerky on the market, I expect all the fatty, chewy tissues to have been trimmed off.
My recommended beer pairing for this, I think a double IPA would go really well. The stronger floral, fruity aroma of the hops, and the sweeter, fuller malt flavor will contrast nicely with the vinegar. Try the Pliny the Elder or the 90 Minute IPA.
Buy this online: