Friday, November 7, 2008

Climax Jerky - Hickory Smoked Beef

The folks at Climax Jerky will tell you to "reach your peak" as part of their marketing slogan. The brand, owned by Climax Jerky, LLC, based out of Dillon, CO, got its start in 1998, and is a family run business headed by Brooke Comai.

Climax Jerky got its start selling jerky atop of Fremont Pass, which is officially listed as 11,318 ft above sea level, along the Colorado Rockies. It was named for the Climax Mine. Fremont Pass is apparently well known for bicyclists and other travellers wanting to stop to take a gander across the countryside. The Comai family continue to sell their jerky here, building a reputation for handing out free samples to oxygen-starved tourists.

Interestingly, according to Brooke, their best selling jerky is smoked elk. Men's Journal magazine named it the "best jerky in the country" in their July 2007 edition. I'll definitely be reviewing that later, but for now we have this original beef jerky variety to review here.


Beef, water, salt, brown sugar, spices, soy sauce, flavorings.


The first taste I get off the surface of these pieces is a smoky, meaty aroma, followed by a slight sweetness, and just a hint of black pepper. Moving into the chew, a salty flavor comes out and a bit of the natural meat flavors.

If I can just summarize it up front, and detail it below, my first sense is that this is definitely a jerky that sits above all of the "garden variety" jerky that you find in the grocery store chains. It has a good deal of flavor consisting of an even mix of seasonings and natural meat flavors.

The natural meat flavors are light, but its taste-aroma helps strengthen its presence. What I mean by aroma is the flavor that your nostrils pick up from inside your mouth, not necessarily from the tongue. The meat flavor is actually quite good, with a smooth mellow taste, but just not a strong one. Being this jerky comes without preservatives, it still has a fresh taste.

The other flavorings in this is largely presented to me as combination of sweet, salt and black pepper. I'd say the salt has the strongest presence, but it's not overly salty at all. The sweet is probably the second strongest on a piece-by-piece basis. However, the black pepper aftertaste eventually drowns out the sweet after several pieces.

The soy sauce listed in the ingredients is not well detected. I can pick up a slight resemblance of it, but only when I look for it. Otherwise it's a flavor that adds to the "ambience" without being noticed on its own.

It's tough to pick a dominant flavor of this jerky. I'd say it's a pretty even mix of salt, black pepper, and natural meat flavors.

Meat Consistency

These appear to be cuts of whole meat, sliced into strips of about 1/4 inch thick and about 2-3 inches long. According to Climax Jerky, this is a "brisket cut".

It's a soft and tender jerky, being easy to bite off, and very easy to chew. It has slight bit of moisture in the meat. The photos below might make this jerky look very moist, but that's largely the oils which may have been drawn out of the meat from the vacuum packaging.

The chewing experience this jerky provides does have a "softened texture" but still seems to resemble eating real steak. On the other hand, I did find a couple of aberrant strips that had a mushy, or crumbly texture.

And these strips are also very lean, I found no pieces of fat, tendon, or gristle. In terms of cleanliness, my fingers do pick up some of that oil, and I find myself rubbing my fingers together to wipe them off.

Product Value

Climax Jerky sells this hickory smoked beef jerky from its website at a price of $8.00 for a four ounce package. That works out to a price of $2.00 per ounce, putting this on the border between expensive and average.

For general jerky snacking purposes, it's a good buy at that price because I do pick up a great deal of snackability. It provides a good volume of flavor, including some natural meat flavors, and isn't too salty. It's also easy to bite off and chew. If priced any lower, I'd call it an excellent value.


I'm giving this a good rating.

Overall, this hickory smoked beef jerky from Climax provides a great taste-mixture of salt, black pepper and natural meat flavors. There's even some sweetness off the surface and a bit of smokiness too. Then, include the fact it's easy to bite off and chew, and provides a good chewing experience, you've got a jerky that easily sits above many others.

I didn't go so far as to give this a best rating only because nothing really stood out as being exceptional. The natural meat flavors taste good, but is not a strong taste. The seasonings and marinade also taste good, but also don't dominate. This jerky is actually a very good basis for a wide array of other varieties, like maybe a jalapeno, or a sweet & spicy, or a red chile.

So, did I actually reach my peak with this offering from Climax Jerky? Well I'll put it this way, Fremont Pass is indeed pretty high up in elevation, but there are other passes even higher. Still, if I were drive up Fremont Pass in my car or on my motorcycle, and I saw the Climax Jerky folks there, I'd definitely stop to get some jerky.

And if I'm going to stop for some jerky, I may as well have a beer while I'm at it. How about a brown ale with this one?

NOTE: I couldn't find a nutrition facts label for this jerky.

Rating: Good

Buy this online:

1 comment:

  1. I really like Wild Hare Brand beef jerky. They've got some great sticks and jerky at