Being the fourth and final review in this series on Butler's Smokehouse is this Peppered variety. See my earlier reviews of their Habanero, Dr. Pepper, and Original varieties.
Butler's Smokehouse is a family run business based in Stephenville, TX. Both Micah and Lacy Butler launched it in 1999, focusing not only beef jerky, but also on smoked cheeses, hams, and turkeys. They make beef jerky at their own USDA inspected facility.
The couple also have a world-wide contract to supply jerky to "Operation Beef-Up Our Troops", a program ran by the USO to provide jerky to American soldiers.
Beef, worcestershire sauce, water, salt, black pepper, crushed red pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, sodium nitrite.
The tastes I pick up from the surface of these pieces starts with a light salty flavor with some clearly defined garlic/onion flavor. A faint black pepper comes in later on. In the chewing, I pick up a stronger salty flavor, some light red chile flavor, and that's about it.
When you see a jerky advertised as "peppered" you often think of black pepper. In this case, I don't get a whole lot of black pepper flavor, I get some but not a lot. I do get some red chile pepper flavor, however. Since Butler's Smokehouse simply said "peppered" without any clarification, I think it does live up to this billing for the light black pepper and light red pepper flavors.
There's even a faint red pepper burn in this, but it's faint enough that I'd still consider this jerky mild. I did find one piece that seemed to be mild-medium in strength. Otherwise, the bulk of this jerky is still mild.
The natural meat flavors in this are hardly noticeable. After a lot of searching and analyzing, I can sense traces of it. But for general jerky snacking purposes, you won't taste any of the meat flavors in this. In fact, I can't find much smoky flavor either, considering the brand name Butler's Smokehouse.
The overall taste of this jerky is largely a salty flavor, about a moderate intensity. Imagine that saltiness, but with a fair amount of black pepper, red pepper, garlic/onion seasoning mixed in. That's mostly what I taste all throughout the chewing. Here and there, my teeth bite into a red pepper seed, and I get a burst of red chile flavor. No meat flavor, no smokiness, no sweet.
These appear to medium to thick slices of whole meat, in small to medium sized pieces.
This is a dry jerky. Once you get it to bend, it cracks. It's similarly dry as the Habanero variety I reviewed for Butler's. For the most part, tearing apart with my fingers is easy, but the chewing is moderately tough.
The chewing texture is quite steak-like. Once it softens up it breaks down quite easily, and chews just like a steak cooked well-done, but dry. It's not mushy, crumbly, or gummy at all. Initially, this jerky feels rather dry and hard, almost like sticking a piece of balsa wood in your mouth. You can lightly chew it a few times, suck out some flavor, then repeat, and it will break down easily. But it's still hard and dry enough that it'll tire out your jaws. It'll take a few 15-20 minute breaks to finish the whole 4oz package.
But it seems to be pretty clean eating. Tearing pieces apart doesn't seem to drop any small fragments, and my fingers don't pick up any residue.
It's also pretty lean. I found no pieces of fat, no tendon or gristle, and I'm not getting any unchewable wads of membranous tissue remaining in my mouth.
Butler's Smokehouse sells this habanero variety at a price of $8.00 for a 4 ounce package. I bought four packages, one each of Butler's four varieties, for a total of $32.00. They tacked on a shipping fee of $8.56, for grand total of $40.56. All in all, it works out to a per ounce price of $2.54, putting this into the expensive price range.
For general jerky snacking purposes, at the $2.54 per ounce price, it presents a fair value. I'm getting a decent snackability from its good flavor, and good chewing texture. But I don't think it's good enough to justify the high $2.54 per ounce price. The toughness eventually wears me out and ruins the snackability. It's a lot better if you only plan to snack on a few pieces.
As a peppered jerky variety, at the $2.54 per ounce price, it's the same fair value. I do get a good deal of peppery flavor as a combination of black pepper and red pepper, but again, for the high price of $2.54 per ounce, I'd expect more peppery flavor. If anything, I'm getting more salt than any other flavor.
I'm giving this an average rating.
This Peppered variety from Butler's Smokehouse gives you a moderate amount of peppery flavor, mostly as a combination of black pepper and red chile. I get just enough of the two that I think it does live up to its billing as "Peppered". But overall, it's not the dominant flavor; that belongs to the saltiness.
Without any natural meat flavors, all I'm really getting out of this is the saltiness plus the pepper combination, and then garlic/onion seasoning as a touch. It's a very well-known flavor to jerky enthusiasts, and as such is not necessarily above average as far as jerky goes. Had it been able to preserve a light-to-moderate natural meat flavor, it would have been enough to get a "good" rating.
The toughness also detracts from its overall enjoyment. While I could eat this more slowly by chewing lightly, and sucking out flavor in between, it still became tiresome over several pieces, and required a 15-20 minute pause.
I also think the dryness of this jerky hurts its flavor. I'll note that the Original variety from Butler's contained a bit more moisture, and I had reported a light natural meat flavor. Perhaps it's just a "hit or miss" issue, and that your package of Butler's Peppered could be more moist than mine.
I think a good beer to pair up with this is a wheat beer, hefeweizen.
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