Last in the series on SlantShack Jerky is this Hot & Smoky variety with Brown Sugar Glaze. See my reviews of their Original, and Jerk McGurk's Wild Rubdown varieties.
SlantShack Jerky is a brand of SlantShack Jerky, LLC based out of Jersey City, NJ. The company, which has been selling it's jerky to the public for a year now, was the creation of Josh Kace, a Columbia University graduate who brought in some friends to get the business going.
The company offers a "Build A Jerky" feature on their website where you get to choose your jerky upgrades and options. Today's review is based on their Hot & Smoky beef jerky, which the company describes as "a smouldering blend of peppers and spices", but adding the Brown Sugar Glaze for an extra $1.00 per 4oz package.
Beef, water, brown sugar, soy sauce, white vinegar, ketchup, worcestershire sauce, Tabasco Sauce, honey, Adobo, molasses, garlic powder, liquid smoke, onion powder, cumin.
The first thing I taste from the surface of these pieces is a good deal of sweet, along with a saucy flavor, more closer to the worcestershire. A fair amount of saltiness, along with some seasonings, particularly the cumin, comes in.
The chewing flavor starts with much of the same flavors, but with some tanginess, and an increased saucy flavor.
For being labeled as "Hot & Smoky with Brown Sugar Glaze", I don't really see this as having much heat, certainly not enough to warrant the word "hot". Although I could see someone who doesn't tolerate hot foods claiming this to be hot, I think anyone who enjoys hot foods will be left wondering where the heat is.
As for the "Smoky" part, there's a smoky character to this, but nothing that really grabs me as being smoky. Compared to SlantShack's Original variety, there does seem to be a noticeable smokiness, but if you didn't have that to compare against, you might be left wondering where that smoke flavor is.
The Brown Sugar Glaze part of the name, however, is easily noticeable. There is a clear and defined sweetness that hits me right away, though it quickly wears off once I get into the chewing. And as a glaze, there is a noticeable stickiness on the surface too.
Otherwise this variety has largely the same flavor as the company's Original variety, mostly a worcestershire sauce flavor, but mixed with a lot more sweetness, along with same the degree of cumin. There is a tanginess in the chewing, though not as pronounced as I found the Original.
I'm not picking up any of the bursts of ginger like I found in the Original, and of course I don't see ginger in the ingredients list here.
The natural meat flavors seem difficult to pick up, whereas in the Original they were more noticeable.
This still has a bit of that garlic and onion flavor, and the level of saltiness feels to be bit stronger than the Original, more at a medium level, or slightly higher.
Overall, what you're going to notice in this is largely a worcestershire sauce flavor, but much more sweetened, as well as a noticeable cumin flavor, a light tangy chewing, and some garlic and onion flavor. There's very little heat in this, and not much smokiness at all.
These are slices of whole meat, sliced into thin slabs, and in medium to large sizes.
This is a semi-moist jerky, with a semi-moist, slightly sticky, surface feel. These slabs are very flexible, being able to bend a full 180 degrees on itself with no cracking. Tearing these slabs apart with my fingers is very easy, and chewing seems very easy as well.
The chewing texture starts out feeling soft and moist, with no chewing resistance. They chew down to a soft mass very quickly, with just about no effort. At that point, it feels very mushy, not at all like real meat, and more closer to the kind of beef you'd find in a jar of Gerber's baby food.
I found several streaks and bits of fat on these slabs, enough to create a fatty flavor where I bit into some. I didn't encounter any streaks of gristle like I had in SlantShack's other varieties, though that's more likely a variance in the batches. I found no stringiness and encountered no unchewable wads of tissue.
In terms of clean eating, my fingertips pick up light sticky residue but not enough to warrant a finger licking and cleaning before touching my keyboard. In tearing these slabs apart, I'm getting a good deal of meat fragments flying off on to my lap.
Slantshack Jerky sells this Hot & Variety with Brown Sugar Glaze variety through its Build A Jerky website at a price of $11.00 for a 4oz package. Shipping is approximately $6.00. If you bought four packages, it would total $46.00, or a price of $2.88 per ounce.
For general jerky snacking purposes, at the $2.88 price per ounce, it's a fair value. I'm getting a lot of snackability from a good overall flavor, easy eating, though a subpar chewing texture. That price is substantially higher than major brands of jerky you'd find in grocery stores, and seems to provide a better flavor, but worse chewing texture.
As a Hot & Smoky with Brown Sugar Glaze variety, at the same $2.88 price per ounce, it's a weak value. I don't really see this as being hot or smoky. It does generate a tiny bit of heat, but not enough to warrant calling it "Hot", and the smokiness in seems about the same, or less than what you get from one of the major brands. Only the Brown Sugar Glaze is well noticeable.
I'm giving this an average rating.
This Hot & Smoky with Brown Sugar Glaze variety from SlantShack Jerky generates a good deal of snackability for an overall good flavor, and easy eating, and actually tastes much like the company's Original variety, which I awarded a Best to.
But I knocked this down a couple levels because for one I felt it doesn't do a satisfactory job of delivering its advertised flavor, and two because the chewing texture feels mushy. There's very little heat to this, not enough to satisfy someone who loves hot foods. And nor is it smoky, at least not to where its easily and readily enjoyed.
If anything, it's just the Brown Sugar Glaze part of the name that's warranted. This is clearly sweet, and there's even a light bit of stickiness that comes off on my fingers, just like what you'd expect a sugary glaze to do.
I think the mushy meat consistency may be a victim of that extra dosage of sweet, and perhaps with whatever other marinades were used in this. It doesn't have that steak-like chewing texture that the Original has. Much of this jerky disintegrates into a fine mushy meal, just like what you get from a jar of baby food.
My recommended beer pairing for this, stick with a porter. Try the Stone Smoked Porter, or the Sierra Nevada Porter.
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