Continuing on in the Timberline Smokehouse series is this Beer & Fire variety. See my previous reviews of their Original, Beer & Garlic, Sweet Mountain BBQ, and Sweet Bourbon & Honey Pepper varieties.
Adam Thomas, founder of Timberline Smokehouse, is also the owner of Thomas Smoked Meats, both based in Johnstown, PA. Thomas originally offered his jerky in 1998 under the Thomas Smoked Meats brand, which he continues to do today. In 2008, he decided to take his line of beef jerky national, under the Timberline Smokehouse brand. Both brands utilize the same recipe.
This "Beer & Fire" variety is one of two beer varieties that Timberline Smokehouse offers. It's marinated in pure beer, as opposed to just having little bit of beer added to the marinade.
Beef, beer, soy sauce, worcestershire sauce, spices, salt, dehydrated garlic, onion powder, sodium nitrite.
The first thing I taste from the surface of these pieces is a light saltiness, a light garlic flavor, some chile pepper flavor, and a some chile pepper burn.
The chewing flavor starts with some natural meat flavors, a bit more saltiness, more chile pepper flavor, and more chile pepper burn.
For being dubbed a "Beer & Fire" variety, it certainly stands up to the "fire" part. On a single piece, there's enough of a burn to register about a medium on my hot scale, but after several pieces it builds up to a medium-hot, producing just a little bit of moisture on my scalp. I'm also getting a light-to-moderate amount of chile pepper flavor.
The beer flavor is there, it's just not easily recognized. What I did was compare a piece of this jerky side-by-side with Timberline Smokehouse's "Original" variety, which doesn't use beer, and I can in fact identify a clear difference. This beer marinated jerky picks up a malty, barley flavor in the chewing, that seems to give it more body. The Original variety is missing that flavor, and has a lighter sensation.
Don't expect this jerky to taste just like beer. If you're a beer connoiseur, or a home brewer, you'll likely identify the flavor. If you're not, you may miss it altogether.
The natural meat flavor is light, but still easily noticed, which appears to be consistent with Timberline Smokehouse's other varieties. The flavor stays centerstage on my palate, sharing space with the chile pepper flavor.
Also centerstage is the marinade, showing up mostly as a saltiness, which seems to be in a moderate level. I don't really identify the soy sauce or worcestershire in their uniqueness, just as a saltiness.
Finally, I can taste a garlic flavor without much difficulty. I want to say it's in a slightly more intensity than the other varieties offered by Timberline Smokehouse, but not quite as strong as their "Beer & Garlic".
Overall, what you're going to notice the most in this jerky is that medium-hot chile pepper burn with some chile pepper flavor, followed by a natural meat flavor, a noticeable garlic, and some saltiness. The beer flavor is there in the more moist pieces, as a light malty, barley flavor.
These are slices of whole meat, sliced medium to thick, and in small pieces.
This is a moist jerky, with a lot of moisture and oiliness on the surface. These pieces seem easy to bite off into chunks, and seems to easy to chew.
The chewing texture starts out feeling soft and moist, and quickly breaks down with a little bit of biting. It chews down to a soft mass easily enough and at that point feels just like chewing a piece of steak.
This review sample didn't contain any visible chunks or streaks of fat. However, I did encounter some unchewable wads of tissue on some pieces. Others I found to be pure meat.
But it's messy to eat. There's a good deal of oil on these pieces requiring a finger licking and wiping with each handling.
Timberline Smokehouse sells this Beer & Fire variety at a price of $9.00 for three 1.75oz packages. If you spend more than $25.00, the shipping is free. I bought $36.00 worth, encompassing several of their varieties. That works out to a price of $1.71 per ounce.
For general jerky snacking purposes, at the $1.71 price per ounce, it's an excellent value. I'm picking up a lot of snackability for its great flavor, good meat consistency and steak-like chewing texture. That $1.71 price is the same as what you'd pay for mass-market jerky at the grocery store, yet I'm getting far more snackability out of this.
As a Beer & Fire variety, at the same $1.71 price per ounce, it's an excellent value again. I'm getting a medium-hot burn, with some chile pepper flavor as well. I'm also noticing the effect the beer marinade has on this, with its malty, barley quality, though not specifically tasting like beer.
I'm giving this a best rating.
This Beer & Fire variety from Timberline Smokehouse appears to be a winner with a great overall flavor combining both a chile pepper burn and flavor, with a light natural meat flavor, a noticeable garlic, and a malty, barley flavor from the beer marinade.
Add to that a moist, easy to eat meat consistency, and a chewing texture that's feels just like eating a piece of steak, and it's a pretty tough contender in the gourmet jerky market.
Don't come away from this review thinking you're going to taste actual beer in this jerky. I doubt you will. What I taste is a malty, barley taste that seems to add more body to the flavor. If you've ever tasted malt extract, what home brewers use to make beer, you'll know the flavor I'm talking about, but without all the sweet.
For my recommended beer pairing, try a pale ale.
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