Friday, April 30, 2010

Riley's Jerky - Peppered

riley's jerkyNext in the series on Riley's Jerky is this Peppered Beef Jerky. See my previous reviews of their Cajun, Jalapeno, and Original varieties.

Riley's Jerky is based out of Greenville, CA founded in 1980 by Riley Burkholder. Today it's run by Britt Burkholder and Bradley Bentz. Up until now, Riley's Jerky was only available in local stores throughout Northern California. But recently they launched a website and are working on getting online ordering installed.

All their jerky is hand cut into chunks and contains no added preservatives.


Beef, water, soy sauce, pepper, garlic salt


The first thing I taste from the surface of these pieces is a peppery flavor, followed by a light soy sauce flavor, and a moderate saltiness.

The chewing flavor starts with an increased saltiness and soy sauce flavor, along with some natural meat flavors, while the black pepper becomes more defined and more strong.

For being labeled as a "Peppered Beef Jerky" it definitely has a well noticed black pepper flavor that comes in somewhat strong. I can pick up its flavor immediately upon putting a piece into my mouth, and then as I start chewing the flavor gets stronger. I also get a good deal of black pepper aftertaste.

But in deciding which flavor seems to dominate my palate, I'd have give it to the soy sauce. That is, it seems to be what sits in the center of my taste buds and gets the most attention. Compare that to Riley's Original variety, where I said the natural meat flavors provide the dominant flavor. Assuming this Peppered has the same recipe as the Original, but with the addition of black pepper, I think the pepper is competing against the natural meat flavors and allows me to taste the soy sauce more.

The natural meat flavors are still noticeable however, and still enjoyable. I just won't taste it as strongly as I did in the Original variety. But it still has that flavor like beef stew meat.

The level of saltiness in this seems high, particularly since the soy sauce flavor is the most accentuated.

Overall, what you're going to taste in this jerky is a soy sauce flavor along with a good deal of black pepper, some natural meat flavors, and a strong saltiness.

Meat Consistency

These are slices of whole meat, cut into chunks, comparable to beef stew meat, in small pieces.

This is a dry jerky, with a dry surface feel. These pieces are hard with no flexibility. Tearing pieces apart with my fingers is difficult, though some pieces are shaped in such a way they can be torn with some effort. Chewing is tough.

The chewing texture starts out feeling dry and hard, almost like putting a rock in my mouth. Each piece has to be sucked on for several seconds to just soften it up a bit. Only then I can bite down and get this to chew. About another 20-25 seconds later, it renders into a soft mass. At that point, it feels just like a real piece of meat, more like eating a chunk of stew meat, or roasted beef.

I don't see any signs of fat on these chunks, nor any gristle or tendon. This review sample didn't reveal any stringiness unlike other samples of Riley's I've had. And I didn't encounter any unchewable wads of tissue.

As for clean eating, it's somewhat. My fingers pick up some tiny flecks of black pepper, but can be easily rubbed off. There's also some bits of pepper and meat that fly off as I take bites out of the bigger pieces.

peppered beef jerky

black pepper jerky
Snack Value

Riley's Jerky currently sells this Peppered Beef Jerky via mail-order at a price of $4.40 for a 3oz package. If you bought four packages, the shipping comes to $7.00, for a total of $24.60. That works out to a price of $2.05 per ounce.

For general jerky snacking purposes, at the $2.05 per ounce price, it seems to provide a good value. I'm getting a good deal of snackability for it's good overall flavor, good chewing texture, though tough initial chewing. That price is close to what you'd pay for major brands of jerky at the grocery store, yet I think this jerky offers better flavor and texture.

For a peppered beef jerky, at the same $2.05 price per ounce, it's also a good value. I'm getting a lot of black pepper flavor all throughout and a strong black pepper aftertaste.


beef jerky nutritionI'm giving this a good rating.

This Peppered Beef Jerky from Riley's Jerky is very comparable to the company's Original Beef Jerky but comes with a liberal dose of black pepper seasoning. As such it has a strong black pepper flavor that I could identify immediately after putting a piece into my mouth and developing into a strong flavor in the chewing.

But despite that, the soy sauce seems to be the dominant flavor in this jerky, which is unlike the Original variety, where I found the natural meat flavors to be more dominant. As it turns out, this Peppered Beef Jerky seems more salty.

It's still very tough to chew, as are all of Riley's Jerky varieties, though it ends up with chewing texture much like real meat. But even putting the toughness aside, I'm still not getting that "wow factor" I look for when assigning a five-star rating. Comparing this with the many other brands of peppered beef jerky I've reviewed, I don't see this as that remarkable. It's still a good jerky if you like dry, tough, salty jerky.

For my recommended beer pairing, I think a heavily malty Double IPA would work well, the heavy malt will add a sweetness to this already sugar-free jerky. Try Dogfish Head's 90 Minute IPA, or Grand Teton's Lost Continent IPA.

Rating: Good

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