Trailhead Beef Jerky is a brand of Trailhead Fine Foods, based out of Cradley Heath, England.
Kevin Bigland, who started the company, first learned about beef jerky during the 1980's while travelling through the United States. Once he returned back to England, he couldn't find it anywhere, and would discover that the only way he could get more was to go back to the USA. He started researching how to make jerky, and soon perfected his recipe.
Trailhead Fine Foods was launched in August 2011 and since then Bigland now sells eight different flavors in all, including this Hot Smoked Chipotle and a XXX Naga Jolokia which I also have for review. While you won't find Trailhead Beef Jerky in USA stores, you can still purchase it online from their website.
Beef, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, brown sugar, Naga pickle, cayenne pepper, celery salt, water, spices, worcester sauce, soy sauce, smoke flavouring, chipotle powder.
The first thing I taste from the surface of these pieces is a lightly smoky, lightly salty flavor. A little bit heat starts to build. I can also pick up a light seasoning of cayenne pepper.
The chewing flavor starts with a fair amount of natural meat flavor and an increased saltiness. A more variated seasoning is noticeable while the heat increases a bit more.
For being marketed as Hot Smoked Chipotle this seems to hold up somewhat. I do experience a fair amount of heat, what I would rank as "medium" on my personal heat scale (level 3 out of 5). I also pick up some chile pepper flavor, but not anything that clearly defines itself as chipotle. Instead, I get a little bit of the smoke flavouring instead of the smoky chipotle flavors.
Otherwise, the flavors that seem to define this jerky overall is the combination of the natural meat flavors, the moderate saltiness, and the cayenne pepper. The smokiness is a light touch, along with touches of seasonings consisting of garlic, onion, and what might be a little of that celery salt.
The natural meat flavor presents itself well in the chewing, having a well-done, cooked flavor.
Overall, it's a fairly well-flavored, moderately spicy, jerky that manages to offer some of it natural meat flavor.
These are slices of whole meat, sliced into bite-sized chunks of thick thickness.
This is a dry jerky with a dry surface feel. They have a slight bit of flexibility, but otherwise feels stiff and hard. Chewing is actually somewhat easy despite the stiffness.
The chewing texture starts out feeling stiff and hard, but chews down without too much effort. It takes on the feeling of real meat as it hydrates in my mouth, and by the time it chews down to a soft mass, it feels like a real steak, one cooked well-done.
The pieces appear to be very lean, with no bits of fat visible. I don't see any gristle or tendon, and didn't seem to encounter any stringiness.
In terms of clean eating, it's very clean, leaving no residue on my fingers, nor dropping any bits of seasoning.
Trailhead Fine Foods sells this Hot Smoked Chipotle beef jerky from its website at a price of £27.00 per 500grams ($41.53 per 17.64 ounces). Let's just say we add about £6.00 for shipping ($9.22), and it works out to a price of $2.88 per ounce.
For general jerky snacking purposes, at the $2.88 per ounce price, it seems to provide a decent value. I'm getting a good overall flavor, with an excellent meat consistency and great chewing texture. That price is considerably more expensive than major brands of jerky found in stores, but it seems to provide a better flavor and chewing experience.
As a "Hot Smoked Chipotle" beef jerky, at the same $2.88 per ounce price, it's a fair value. It does generate enough heat to warrant the word, "Hot", and I do taste a light chile pepper flavor, but I'm having difficulty identifying it as chipotle. At that higher price, I would want more chipotle flavor.
I'm giving this a good rating.
This Hot Smoked Chipotle variety from Trailhead Beef Jerky provides a snackable taste that combines the goodness of natural meat flavor with cayenne pepper, garlic and onion, a light saltiness, and light smokiness. I found myself wanting to eat more and more, and found the moderate level of heat to be enjoyable enough without scorching my mouth.
The meat consistency and chewing texture seems excellent, being mostly easy to eat despite its stiff, hard feel, and chews with the resemblance of real steak. The bite sized pieces adds to snacking factor and these piece are very meaty, with practically no fat or stringiness.
Probably one of the best jerky brands and varieties I've had that was not produced in the USA, it feels good knowing that an American staple is being well-presented to UK snackers.
My recommended beer pairing for this, a brown or red ale seems to go well, try the Newcastle Brown Ale or the Smithwicks.
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