The Jerky Guy is a brand belonging to a company called Better Than Yours, Inc., based out of Jackson, CA. The jerky itself is manufactured by Jerky Snack Brands, out of their Minnesota facility. But Jerky Snack Brands uses the proprietary recipes of The Jerky Guy.
And The Jerky Guy himself is Jon Beltran, who about 27 years ago experimented with making jerky in his backyard smoker. Then he approached a friend who apparently had a secret recipe for awesome teriyaki beef, and was able to recreate that into a teriyaki jerky. I'll be reviewing the teriyaki later.
The packaging for this black peppered variety says it offers "The flavors of black pepper, garlic, and wine, just to name a few...", and that it'll give me a taste experience that I will not forget. Considering how bad my memory is getting these days, and depending what this stuff tastes like, that could be good or bad.
Beef, wine, soy sauce, sugar, salt, ground black pepper, natural extracts of garlic, black pepper, onion, rosemary.
The tastes I pick up from the surface of these pieces is a slight tangy flavor, which perhaps might be the wine, a slight sweet flavor, and a smokiness. In the chewing, I can hints of that rosemary, the onion, some more of that tanginess, some saltiness, and finally the black pepper starts to show.
If I were to chew a piece immediately after putting it into my mouth, I get that black pepper flavor more quickly, but that peppery flavor tends to mask over the other flavors I listed. This is probably a jerky best enjoyed by sucking on first, and then chewing.
The tangy flavor is perhaps the most welcomed flavor in my opinion. It has a vinegar-like quality to it, perhaps more evidence that it's coming from the wine. The flavor seems to last all the way from when I first start sucking on a piece, to the chewing, to when I swallow it all down.
The rosemary and onion flavors are noticed only in the chewing, but only after having sucked on a piece for several seconds before chewing. They're both strong enough to notice, but still somewhat on the slight side. If a chew a piece right away, you won't notice the rosemary and onion. The garlic is similar, except I could still taste it if I had chewed a piece right away. The trio of rosemary/onion/garlic adds a lot of color to the tangy/vinegar taste of the wine.
The natural meat flavors are not noticeable in this. Even when I focus on finding the taste, I can't really detect it. But for being free of preservatives, this jerky seems to retain a fresh taste. It's also worth noting that the company says they use a type of soy sauce that's free of preservatives as well. And I also note that this package has a "Best Before" date of April 14, 2009, just a few months away.
So, for being advertised as a black peppered jerky, does it have a strong black pepper taste? Absolutely. It's mostly tasted in the chewing, and in a moderate intensity. It's clearly identified, but doesn't overpower the whole jerky. As I said above, if you were to chew this jerky immediately after putting it in your mouth, that pepper is mostly what you'll taste.
Overall, the dominant taste of this jerky is that tangy/vinegar flavor that comes from the wine marinade. That's followed by the black pepper as the second-strongest flavor, and the combination of rosemary/onion/garlic as the third strongest.
The slight sweet flavor is noticeable, but is too slight to warrant as a dominant flavor.
The same goes for the salt. It's interesting to note that the sodium listed in the nutrition facts is a very high 950mg per 1 ounce serving, but yet I don't really find this jerky to have an intense salt flavor. I had actually talked to Jon Beltran when writing this review, and he explained that the USDA measured this before dehydration. That is, they counted the sodium content in the marinade and seasonings, and didn't take into account that some of it drips off in the smoking. He says it's actually about 635mg of sodium.
These appear to be slices of whole meat, sliced to a medium thickness, and in small to medium sized pieces.
It's somewhat dry, and yet somewhat moist, and a little more of one or the other in some pieces. Most of the piece retain a good deal of flexibility. For the most part they seem easy to tear apart, and the chewing is fairly easy as well.
The chewing texture has a decent steak-like characteristic to it. It has a fibrous quality, but still a noticeable mushiness. It's comparable to what you might find in a bag of Oberto's.
In terms of clean eating, my fingers don't really pick up residue from these pieces, but I did find a few bits of meat fragments and pepper corns in my lap.
I did find some small bits of fat on some pieces. And most pieces seem to contain a good deal of chewy connective or membranous tissues, which remained in my mouth as small unchewable wads. Otherwise, I didn't find any tendon or gristle.
I paid $5.99 for this 3.5 ounce package directly from The Jerky Guy website. That works out to a price of $1.71 per ounce, putting this into the average price range. But keep in mind there's a $7.95 shipping fee per order. I bought three packages so that worked out to a price of $2.47 ounce, making it an expensive jerky.
For general jerky snacking purposes, considering the $2.47 per ounce price, it's a decent value. If I could buy this at a store, and not have to pay the shipping, I'd considering it a good value. I found a lot of snackability in this due mostly to that unique flavor combination of the tangy/vinegar, and rosemary/onion/garlic. I just kept wanting to taste more and more of that. While it eats easily, the chewing texture is fair to average.
As a black peppered variety, it's also a decent to good value, depending on the price you buy this at. For the most part, I got a moderate amount of black pepper taste, but I got even more when I chewed these pieces right away instead of sucking on them first.
I'm giving this a best rating.
I'm quite impressed with that tangy/vinegar flavor given off by the wine used in this jerky. I think it really goes well with beef jerky. And then throw in that trio of rosemary, onion and garlic? Mmmmm, good.
And I really like the use of rosemary in this. I wish more jerky makers used it. I've been a big fan of rosemary since my first experience with potatoes sauteed in garlic and rosemary. Rosemary grows all over the area I live in, and is considered a weed here. I like to pull a few sprigs of it out of the ground, and toss on it in the barbecue when I cook steaks, if nothing just to smell it. So suffice to say, having it in this jerky scores points with me.
Overall, this jerky has a strong flavor intensity, most of that coming from the tangy/vinegar taste which really seems to grab my attention. It also has a good flavor complexity with several flavors to enjoy from the surface and in the chewing.
Probably the biggest negative I found with this jerky is that I didn't find any natural meat flavors. It's a characteristic that I put some importance into, but one I can still overlook if a jerky has a delicious blend of seasonings and marinade. And that's exactly what this jerky has.
The meat consistency I found to be ok. The amount of chewy connective tissues in this jerky tends to subtract from the overall chewing enjoyment. The chewing texture of this meat is good, but not the best. It has a meat-like quality to it, but still enough mushiness to give it that "mass-market" jerky feel.
As for a good beer companion, the tangy/vinegar flavor would go very well with a cherry or raspberry lambic.
Buy this online:
- Note: The Jerky Guy brand appears to be out of business now.