Jerky connoisseur joins Fort Collins food scene

Sierra Cymes

Three steps and you would miss it.

Uncle Andy’s Jerky in Old Town has big aspirations, a big personality and big taste, but the store is only six feet wide.

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Andrew "Andy" Hanenberg, the owner of Uncle Andy's Jerky, stands in his store on Wednesday afternoon. (Photo credit: Eliot Foust)
Andrew “Andy” Hanenberg, the owner of Uncle Andy’s Jerky, stands in his store on Wednesday afternoon. (Photo credit: Eliot Foust)

Owner Andrew Hanenburg realized his love of jerky once he started making it from his home with purchased gadgets including a meat slicer, barrel smoker, electric smoker and dehydrator.

“People would seem to like (my jerky), so I was playing with flavors and then started looking on how it would be done on a scaled-up version,” Hanenburg said.

Two years later, he opened his six-foot storefront in Fort Collins.

A vision of a future partnership with CSU was a big factor in choosing his location.

“I look at the resources of CSU, with their food science and animal science program and the meat lab, and I would like to be able to work with the University and work with students that want to get into the field that might have a different approach to it and that are willing to experiment,” Hanenburg said.

Hanenburg is also researching more sustainable and efficient ways to make its product.

“I’ve tried to pick the best, most logical choices in putting into the jerky when thinking about sustainability, affordability, accessibility and environmental impact,” Hanenburg said.

Four diverse flavor profiles are the backbone of Andy’s jerky: the Bandito Loco spicy coffee, Lumberjack maple bourbon, Southern gent lemon mint and Tex’s tangy BBQ.

Each flavor of jerky has its own unique packaging, with a description of the ingredients and a handmade character that relates to the individual flavors.

Hanenburg’s childhood friend, Reilly Brown, works as an illustrator for Marvel Comic Books and agreed to design the characters for Hanenburg’s jerky.

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“(Hanenburg) wanted to get that old-school 20th-century different kind of caricatures of manliness for the characters,” Brown said.

Brown had to draw a couple versions to come up with the look that was right for the product.

“I mostly draw comic books so the first round of drawings Andy thought was way too superhero-y because they were much more cartoony — bigger and buffer and stuff like that,” Brown said.

Besides appearing on the jerky packaging, the characters are included on multiple products sold in the store, from hats to wallets and T-shirts.

Hanenburg’s mission is to make delicious jerky that fans everywhere can enjoy, according to his website.

Bags of Uncle Andy’s Jerky sell for about $6, and he is offering $1 per bag of jerky through the end of the year to CSU students who bring their student ID.

Collegian A&E Writer Sierra Cymes can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @sierra_cymes.