Gary West Meats is a company based in Jacksonville, OR that makes smoked meats, including jerky, hams, turkeys, and sausages. They've been around since 1966.
The business was started by Gary West using recipes handed down to him from his grandfather. The recipes actually date back to when his grandfather was just a little boy growing up in southern Oregon. The West family as a whole have been in that region since the 1850s. In 2004, West sold the business to his daughter and son-in-law, who continue the same recipes today.
The brand's focus is to highlight the natural meat flavors, which they have done quite well. All of their jerky varieties tend to be low on seasonings, just to prevent them from competing with the meat's smoky taste.
Gary West Meats cuts and processes all of their jerky by hand at their own facility in Jacksonville, OR.
Beef, brown sugar, salt, black pepper, sodium nitrite.
The first tastes that I pick up from this is a sweetness, and the black pepper. The saltiness is easily detected, and the natural meat flavors come on strong with some chewing.
The black pepper has a strong presence in this jerky, along with the natural meat flavors. I'd still give the edge to the natural meat flavors as the primary taste in this jerky, with the black pepper coming in a close second. The saltiness is also strong, but clearly takes a backseat to the other two. I can't say this this is too salty, however, that is I don't get a salt scorching.
The natural meat flavors have a wonderful taste, which I can only describe as being smooth, mellow, and buttery. That flavor alone is enough to make this highly addictive.
Overall, this is very tasty jerky, where the flavors last throughout the chew.
These are cuts of whole meat, sliced into strips of about 12 inches in length, and about the width of a beef stick. Note that I broke the strip apart for photographic purposes.
While Gary West Meats claims their jerky is not dry enough to be called jerky, hence their use of the word "beef strips", I found this particular review sample to be plenty dry. I'd call it a dry jerky. The photos below make it appear somewhat moist, but that's largely the outside glaze.
It's easy to bite off a piece, and also easy to chew.
I didn't find any pieces of fat, tendon, gristle, or anything else chewy that got in the way.
Overall, this jerky has an excellent meat consistency.
Gary West Meats sells this Cracked Black Pepper variety at a price of $4.50 for a 2oz package. That works out to a price of $2.25 per oz, making this an expensive buy. You can get that price down to as low as $1.63 per oz, if you buy their larger sized packages.
For general jerky snacking purposes, this is a "so-so" value, because while it does have a great snackability in its natural meat flavors, there's plenty of other brands out there offering great snackability as well at a cheaper price.
However, if you're a beef jerky connoiseur, and you want a jerky that provides a lot of great tasting natural meat flavors, this is an excellent value.
As a black pepper variety, it's a "so-so" value. You're actually getting a lot of black pepper taste in this, but if that's what you're mainly after, you don't want to pay $2.25 per oz for it. There are cheaper brands out there providing a lot of black pepper.
I'm giving this a best rating.
This Cracked Black Pepper variety from Gary West combines its smooth mellow natural meat flavors with the sharp biting contrast of black pepper, all in an easy to eat meat consistency.
I found its natural meat flavor to taste so great, that it alone was enough to make me want more. The liberal dosing of black pepper definitely backs up this jerky's advertised flavor. Towards the beginning of this review, I said that the company tends to go low on seasonings just to highlight the jerky's natural meat flavors. But in this variety, I might say that the black pepper competes against it.
Many people out there will argue that Gary West Meat's beef jerky products are too expensive. I'd only argue that it's too expensive for general purpose jerky snacking. You wouldn't want to eat this while watching a movie, or driving a car, because you'll miss out on how great the meat flavors taste. This is something you'll want to keep in your private reserve and enjoy when the inspiration hits you.
As for my recommended beer pairing, I'd recommend an imperial stout; North Coast Brewing's, "Old Rasputin" or Alesmith's "Speedway Stout", will provide a smooth creamy contrast to the peppery bite of this jerky.
Buy this online: