Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Brave Jerky

brave jerky
Brave Jerky is a new brand that just barely got started, and is still technically in the fundraising mode with a campaign on Kickstarter. It was launched only weeks ago by Brad and Michelle Summey out of Washington DC.

The company aims itself towards the meat snacking crowd who really love spicy hot jerky. According to its tagline, "...our spicy jerky aims to weed out the weak and reward the brave." Hence the name of the company, Brave Jerky.

It has also developed a unique marinade based on a Cuban recipe.

Thus far, the company plans to launch with four flavors, Mojo, Jalapeno/Serrano, Habanero, and Ghost Pepper Buffalo. We were sent samples for review, but because the company is not selling live to the public, we're withholding ratings. If you want to donate to their funding campaign, visit their Kickstarter Page.


Mojo: The first flavors that hit my palate is a lightly sweet and fruity blend of garlic, lime, and cilantro, in that order. I can pick up other seasonings, and I want to say oregano and/or thyme, and I think even some vinegar.

The natural meat flavors in the Mojo variety show up in light amounts, and I don't really pick any smokiness.

For being the company's mild entry, this Mojo is not bland by any means. It's packs a good deal flavor, but a flavor unlike what you'd find with other brands. It's largely a garlic flavored jerky, with swashes of lime and cilantro, and other Cuban-influenced seasonings.

Jalapeno/Serrano: This one starts similarly as the Mojo, but adds in a noticeable chile pepper flavor. The heat ramps up to a Medium level (level 3 out of 5 on my personal heat scale), but I get more of the pungent chile flavor in this versus the milder flavor in the Mojo.

The natural meat flavors are light in this, just like the Mojo.

For people who like jerky with some heat and the natural flavors of chile peppers, this Jalapeno/Serrano variety does a good job of both. It comes off mostly as a combination of jalapeno/serrano peppers and garlic. I don't quite get the full richness of Mojo's base flavors, I think because the jalapeno/serrano chiles tend to dominate.

Habanero: Right away I taste the signature flavor of habanero chiles. I can also pick up Brave Jerky's base Mojo flavor but less so. It's largely the habanero chile flavor that comes out, along with a noticeable garlic, and some of the Cubanesque flavor profile that the company is focused on.

I can actually taste more of the natural meat flavors in this Habanero variety than compared to their Mojo and Jalapeno/Serrano.

As far as the heat is concerned, it's not quite as hot as I would have expected with a gourmet Habanero brand. It's perhaps a step hotter than the company's Jalapeno/Serrano, but not the big leap that their associated scoville units would have you expect. But overall, if you're a habanero lover just for its recognizable flavor, and you also like garlic, this is a great jerky to try.

Ghost Pepper Buffalo: Starts out with a chile pepper flavor, but not quite as well-defined as in the Habanero. The company says this variety is supposed to offer the flavor of classic buffalo wings with the intense heat of ghost pepper chiles. I don't taste anything in this that resembles classic buffalo wing sauce. However, I do taste the flavor of ghost pepper chiles, but at a light-to-moderate level. I also taste a significant garlic.

The natural meat flavors in this are light as with the Mojo and Jalapeno/Serrano.

The heat of this Ghost Pepper Buffalo jerky is rather disappointing, not nearly as hot as I would have expected.  For something labeled "ghost pepper", I expect it to be seething hot, and the level of heat is just not there. I'd still rank this as "hot" on my personal heat scale (level 5 out of 5), but it produces only a misting of moisture on my scalp, not enough to drip down my face.

brave jerky
Brave Jerky - Jalapeno/Serrano Jerky
brave jerky
Brave Jerky - Jalapeno/Serrano Jerky

Meat Consistency

These are made from slices of whole meat, sliced into strips and slabs of medium thickness.

This is a dry jerky with a semi-moist and slightly oily surface feel. Biting off chunks is somewhat easy, but chewing is labored, perhaps a little tough, and enough to tire the jaws.

The chewing texture starts off with a fair amount of initial chewing resistance, but once the chewing gets going it takes on a meaty, steak-like feel. It takes some work to get this chewed down to a soft mass, but once you get there it feels like just a piece of steak.

I don't see any bits of fat on these pieces nor any tendon or gristle. I find only light bits of stringiness, and otherwise no unchewable tissues. It's very meaty.

As for clean eating, my fingers pick up light amount of stickiness and oiliness, enough to require a light licking and wiping before touching the keyboard.


I really like Brave Jerky's idea of using the traditional flavorings of Cuba as its base marinade. It really makes this jerky stand out from the rest and I couldn't help nodding my head in approval as I sampled their varieties. Perhaps the biggest common denominator in all four of the initial offerings is the strong garlic flavor. Add to that the lime, cilantro, and onion, and you a flavor profile that really knocks your socks off.

Between the four samples they sent me, I'd have to say their Habanero and Jalapeno/Serrano are the top two, with perhaps the Habanero taking the slight edge. These varieties did a great job of representing their featured chile pepper ingredient with a good dose of flavor and heat. The Habanero wasn't quite as hot as I would expect for habanero chiles, but it did a great job of giving you the rich habanero flavor with the company's Cuban-style marinade.

The Mojo was also quite good if you'd prefer to stay in the mild zone, but this is a marinade that really needs to stand behind a featured chile pepper, so the Mojo was like a supporting cast without a leading star. The Ghost Pepper Buffalo, interestingly, fell kinda flat. First, it didn't at all taste like classic buffalo wing sauce that the company claimed it would, and it wasn't anywhere close to being as seething hot as I would expect from a "ghost pepper" labeled jerky. It did however, bring out the ghost pepper flavor, and the strong garlic.

If you'd like to get in on the Brave Jerky action, just make an investment into their Kickstarter Campain:

1 comment:

  1. Steve- thanks for taking the time to review our product and spread the word about our Kickstarter campaign. I really hope you enjoyed it, and it sounds like we'll have to revisit just how hot we make our Ghost Pepper!