Their jerky is sold at various shops, bars, and venues across the San Diego area. However the two can be found at the Little Italy Farmers Market on Saturdays, doling out samples of their jerky.
Habanero Sculpin also happens to be the name of a craft beer made by Ballast Point Brewing, another San Diego business. This jerky is marinated for 24 hours in this brew, creating a one-two punch of habanero spices and "subtle hoppy notes" on the tongue.
Grass fed beef, Habanero Sculpin Beer, brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, seasoned salt, lime juice, gluten-free soy sauce, habanero powder, garlic, pepper, liquid smoke.
The first thing I taste on the tongue is a heavy sweetness, along with some black pepper, and the "subtle hoppy notes" that the company described. Meanwhile, the heat is building quickly. The chewing brings on some of the natural meat flavors, a light habanero chile flavor, some more sweetness, and touches of garlic and seasonings.
For being marketed as "Habanero Sculpin", and for a jerky marinated in Ballast Point's Habanero Sculpin IPA, it represents pretty well. I do get a good deal of habanero heat, and light habanero chile flavor. But I also get a lot of the Habanero Sculpin IPA flavor. I can pick up the hops, and even the malt flavor. In fact, I can pick up a subtle alcohol too.
Otherwise, the flavors that define and dominate this jerky starts with a heavy sweetness that brings on the hop bitters, and black pepper spiciness, right away. The malt flavor comes on right along. The light habanero chile flavors comes through in the chewing, along with a light natural meat flavor. The jerky finishes with some garlic and seasonings. There's also noticeable tanginess in the chewing that creates an eye-opening experience.
The level of heat in this feels sigifnicant, but not over the top. On my personal heat scale, I'd rate this as "medium hot" (level 4 out of 5). If you love spicy hot foods, this will give you enough burn to enjoy without making you stop to cool off.
The meat consistency seems pretty good. This is a brisket cut, sliced thin to medium, and has a typical jerky chewiness, though still moist. I don't see any fat on these strips, though light stringiness, which seems expected for a brisket cut.
Verdict: This Habanero Sculpin from Jerky's Gourmet is one of the better beer-marinated jerky varieties I've reviewed. It really brings out the hops from an otherwise very hoppy IPA, along with some malt flavors, and even a light alcohol flavor. Most beer-marinated jerky brands settle with cheap beer, but apparently not Jerky's Gourmet. Ballast Point's "Habanero Sculpin IPA" is one of the top-shelf brews among San Diego craft beer aficionados, and Jerky's Gourmet has done an excellent job with it's marinated-beef interpretation.
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