In July of 2009 I posted a review of Sograte's Black Pepper beef jerky. But last week, the company sent me another package claiming they improved the recipe, and sought another review.
Read that review here.
I had actually given this jerky my highest rating (best) back then, but after reading my review and the comments posted on that review, Cary Franklin, the guy who runs Sograte Beef Jerky, wanted to make some adjustments. Specifically, I had reported a high saltiness, and a tough chew in the thicker pieces. One commenter agreed with the toughness, claiming it was difficult to eat.
Now, Cary reports that in this revised recipe the saltiness has been toned down, and the meat has an "improved texture".
I also want to note that this package was not vacuum sealed, and I think it may have been when Cary sent it to me, but somehow lost its seal through the delivery.
Beef, water, salt, paprika, spices, black pepper, monosodium glutamate, garlic, sodium nitrite. Sprayed with potassium sorbate for mold prevention.
The first thing I taste from the surface of these pieces is a strong smoky flavor, with a light seasoning blend and saltiness. The black pepper is already giving off a moderate bite.
The chewing flavor starts with a more defined smoky natural meat flavor, a stronger saltiness, and more seasoning flavor. The black pepper is much more noticeable at this point.
In terms of how well the flavor is improved, about all I can say is that I pick up a stronger seasoning flavor than in the old recipe. I don't have any jerky from the old recipe to compare with, only my memory and what I wrote in the previous review. But I want to say that this seems to be only the big difference.
As for the saltiness, this still seems to have a high saltiness. But like I reported in the revised recipe for Sograte's Original variety, it could very well be due to the increased seasoning flavor making it seem salty.
Otherwise, this revised Black Pepper variety still has the same strong smoky natural meat flavor that won me over in my previous review, and it still has the same strong black pepper flavor. You'll just notice some more seasoning flavor.
As far as this revised recipe have an improved texture, it does seem to be true. I recall the previous recipe being very dry, to the point where biting into a piece presented some crunchiness. With this new recipe, the pieces seem a little more easier to chew. It's actually chewy, which is perhaps what you'd expect jerky to be.
But as far as being easier to eat, it's just a little more than before. The thicker pieces still require some effort to bite off and chew, but the thinner pieces are soft and easy. There's still a lot of flavor in these pieces that I don't think you'll want to chew right away, anyways. It's a jerky to suck on and enjoy, and that will ultimately soften it up.
However, I noticed that these pieces contain more fat than in the previous recipe. The same was true when I re-evaluated Sograte's Original variety. I don't know if it's a different cut of meat, or a different meat supplier, or maybe it's always been this way and I just got some really lean stuff before.
Otherwise, it's still slices of whole meat, cut into strips, with some sliced thick, and others medium.
As of February 1, 2010, Sograte will up its price to $5.75 per 3oz bag and $33.00 per 6 pack. Assuming shipping will remain at the $4.95 flat rate, that means a 6-pack will cost $37.95. That works out to a price of $2.11 per ounce.
For general jerky snacking purposes, at the $2.11 price per ounce, this jerky still presents a good value. That price is brings Sograte to above the price of national branded jerky at the grocery store, but you're still getting some really good flavor, and now a little bit more tender chew.
As Black Pepper beef jerky, at the same $2.11 price per ounce, it's also a good value. I'm getting a lot of black pepper flavor, both on the surface flavor, and in the chewing. If the taste of black pepper is what you're more concerned about, there's plenty of it in here, along with a good chewing texture and overall flavor.
I'm giving this a Best rating.
Just as with Sograte's previous recipe for this Black Pepper beef jerky, it still has that "wow factor" with strong smoky natural meat flavor, and a good deal of punch with its strong black pepper flavor.
The difference now is that I'm tasting a little bit more seasoning flavor, and a little bit more ease in chewing. I would not call this soft however, and this particular review sample is not semi-moist as with Sograte's revised Original variety. If anything, this revised Black Pepper variety is now chewy, whereas before it was crunchy.
But where Sograte says that this jerky is now less salty, I can't really vouch for that. It's difficult for me to say. I'm sure it contains less sodium as Cary Franklin says, but I think the increased seasoning flavor might make this still feel salty.
In the end, it's still a five-star rated jerky as before, on the strength of a strong smoky natural meat flavor and a well noticed black pepper seasoning and pops in my mouth, but with just a couple small improvements.
My recommended beer pairing is still the same, something light and refreshing like a cream ale or kolsch, to counter the higher saltiness.
Buy this online: