Last in the series on Mike's Country Meats is this "Hot Jamaican Style" beef jerky. See my previous reviews of their Regular and Peppered varieties.
Mike's Country Meats, LLC is a state-inspected beef jerky manufacturer based in Campbellsport, WI. The company has been making jerky since 2002.
It's actually been in operation since 1984 as Mike's Wild Game Processing serving local deer hunters. Slowly over the years business expanded and by 1998 they had constructed a larger facility. In 2002 they opened up their own store selling fresh cuts of meat and sausage, as well as beef jerky. The jerky business took off quickly and soon became the company's primary focus.
Beef, seasoned with soy sauce, tomato paste, worcestershire sauce, natural flavoring, onion salt, garlic salt, cayenne pepper, habanero pepper, black pepper, spices, onion powder, garlic powder.
The first thing I notice from the surface of these pieces is a light worcestershire sauce flavor, with a touch of sweet. That's soon followed by a light cayenne pepper flavor. And then soon after that, there's a light bit of burn building. I can also pick out a light smoky flavor, along with other spices.
The chewing flavor starts with a slightly more defined worcestershire sauce flavor, and maybe a little bit more saltiness. Otherwise it seems to be much of the same surface flavors.
For being marketed as a "Hot Jamaican Style" beef jerky, this seems to hold up. I do get a decent amount of burn after eating a few pieces, along with a light flavor of cayenne pepper. I don't taste the unique flavor of the habanero pepper, but I do feel some of that capsaicin rush going through me.
As for the "Jamaican" part of the name, I can pick up a strong, and complex spice blend, though not necessarily anything uniquely "allspice". But it the spice blend is quite bold and has an intense footprint on this jerky. Nonetheless, this jerky does come off tasting like something that could be associated with the name "Jamaican".
But I think the worcestershire is still the dominant flavor of this jerky. At least that's what I taste first and foremost. The spice blend does add a lot of flavor to that, along with the cayenne pepper. This is more like a spicy worcestershire with a touch of sweet added.
As for the heat in this, I'd rank it as "medium" on my personal heat scale (level 3 out of 5).
I'm not getting any natural meat flavors out of this.
The level of saltiness in this feels to be medium.
Overall, what you're going to notice in this is a dominant worcestershire sauce flavor, but spiced up with a lot of spices and cayenne pepper, plus a touch of sweetness, and a moderate level of heat.
These are slices of whole meat, sliced into medium and thin slabs, and in small to medium sized pieces.
This is a dry jerky with a dry surface feel. Most pieces have a lot of flexibility, being able to bend back on itself with minimal cracking. Tearing pieces apart with my fingers seems mostly easy, some requiring a bit more effort. Chewing seems "chewy" and a bit labored.
The chewing texture starts off feeling chewy and pliable with a fair amount of chewing resistance. The pieces require a fair amount of labored chewing to get down to a soft mass. And by that time, they tend to have a meaty, somewhat steak-like chewing texture.
Some of these pieces have small bits of fat visible on them, while a few others had some larger streaks that contributed to a rubbery chew. Some pieces tend to have some stringiness, but overall I found no tendon or gristle.
In terms of clean eating, my fingers don't pick up any residue handling these pieces, but there's a fair amount of spice and meat fragments falling off as I tear pieces apart.
Mike's Country Meats sells this Hot Jamaican Style from its website at a price of $12.00 for an 8oz package. If you buy three packages, sent to Southern California, the total with shipping works out to $44.00. That works out to $1.83 per ounce.
For general jerky snacking purposes, at the $1.83 per ounce price, this seems to provide a good value. I'm getting a good snackability for an overall good flavor, decent meat consistency and chewing texture, though it demands some labored chewing. That price is in the same ballpark as the major brands of jerky, and seems to provide a similar snackability.
As a "Hot Jamaican Style" beef jerky, at the same $1.83 per ounce price, this provides a good value. I'm getting a fair amount of heat, along with a light cayenne pepper flavor, as well as a complex spice blend that could warrant being called "Jamaican".
I'm giving this an average rating.
This Hot Jamaican beef jerky from Mike's Country Meats does a good job of delivering a fair amount of heat along with a strong blend of spices, enough to make it hold up to its "hot jamaican" namesake.
It's comparable to the company's other flavors, being based on a dominant worcestershire flavor, but this offers a lot more flavor and some heat, making it more like a spicy worcestershire with a touch of sweet.
It's still requires some labored chewing to get through, and in this particular variety, I found some large streaks of chewy, rubbery fat that I didn't like at all. Had the meat consistency been better, along with its overall good flavor, it would have been enough to push this up to a four-star rating.
My recommended beer pairing for this, go with a porter. The smoked malt flavor should provide a nice contrast to the heavier spicy flavors in this jerky. Try the Stone Smoked Porter or the Anchor Porter.
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