Uncle Mike's Beef Jerky is a brand of Walnut Creek Cheese of Walnut Creek, OH. Walnut Creek Cheese is a popular destination for tourists visiting the Amish Country of Ohio.
The company has been around since 1977 founded by Mark Coblentz originally starting out as a cheese marketer. Through a series of rapid expansion and business acquisitions, Walnut Creek Cheese built itself into one of the top tourist spots and gourmet food labels across the Amish Country. In 1998, they acquired Uncle Mike's Beef Jerky.
Uncle Mike's Beef Jerky is manufactured in Walnut Creek Cheese's own USDA inspected facility, and is one of the company's top selling products. It's available in six flavors, Original, BBQ, Black Pepper, Spicy Hot, Jalapeno, and Teriyaki. I have only this Original, as well as the Spicy Hot and BBQ to review.
Beef, salt, sugar, paprika, monosodium glutamate, spices, garlic powder, sodium nitrite.
The first thing I taste from the surface of these pieces is a fair amount of saltiness, followed by a light sweet, and an easily noticeable garlic.
The chewing flavor starts with a light natural meat flavor, then maybe a tad more garlic, and a slightly increased saltiness. There's like a BBQ flavor to this.
For being the company's original variety, it's actually quite flavorful, and unlike what you might expect with original varieties from other brands.
That BBQ flavor I just mentioned is more like a BBQ seasoning flavor, comparable to what you might get from a bag of BBQ seasoned potato chips. That's pretty much the dominant flavor of this jerky. There's an easily-noticeable garlic flavor and a good deal of saltiness, perhaps at a high level.
The natural meat flavors are there in light amounts, and more noticeable when I suck on a piece for 15-20 seconds, and then start chewing. If I were to chew right away, the stronger BBQ seasoning flavor dominates and makes it difficult to find the meat flavors.
This jerky has a light oily consistency that comes through in the taste somewhat, and perhaps intensifies the seasonings.
There's also a touch of black pepper that I can taste to a small degree, just enough to provide a bit of a bite in the back of my mouth.
Overall, this beef jerky is largely defined by a very savory BBQ seasoning flavor, weighing more towards the garlic. There's a light natural meat flavor, a strong saltiness, and a touch of black pepper. There's also a light bit of sweet throughout.
These are slices of whole meat, sliced thick, into strips of varying lengths and widths.
This is a semi-moist jerky having a semi-moist surface feel, and a slight oiliness too. These pieces have a good deal of flexibility, with some being able to bend 180 degrees back on itself with little cracking. Biting off chunks can be tough in some pieces, but less so in others. Chewing also varies between tough in some pieces and easier in others.
The chewing texture starts out feeling soft and tender, with some initial chewing resistance. But when chewing, they reveal a more chewier, tougher nature. The softer pieces are less so, but still require a fair amount of chewing. Once chewed down to a soft mass, they feel like a real piece of steak.
I see some small bits of fat on these pieces, and in one piece a small bit of gristle. There's also a lot of stringiness in this, and that seems to produce a good deal of unchewable wads of tissue.
As for clean eating, I can feel a faint bit of oiliness and stickiness on my fingertips, but still quite dry enough to type on my keyboard. There's also a fair amount of meat and seasoning fragments falling on my lap.
Walnut Creek Cheese sells this Original beef jerky from its website at a price of $3.99 for a 3.6oz package. I bought six packages in all in different flavors. The shipping costs come out to $13.86, for a grand total of $37.80. That works out to $1.75 per ounce.
For general jerky snacking purposes, at the $1.75 per ounce price, this seems to offer a good value. I'm getting a good deal of snackability due to a good overall flavor, a decent meat consistency and decent chewing texture. That price is about the same as what you'll pay for one of the major brands of jerky at the grocery store, and yet offers better flavor.
I'm giving this a good rating.
This Original variety from Uncle Mike's Beef Jerky is packed with flavor, something resembling BBQ seasoning, much like what you might find in a bag of BBQ seasoned potato chips. It's more heavier on the garlic than any other seasoning, but there's also a touch of black pepper and a good deal of saltiness. There's even a light natural meat flavor.
I think the light oiliness in the meat helps intensify the seasonings, and makes this more savory. Perhaps that's why Walnut Creek Cheese sells so much of this stuff. Even though its labeled "Original flavor", it has a lot of flavor and not at all like what you expect in a brand's regular flavor.
But even though it's a good flavor, I'm still not left feeling blown away by this. It's a well flavored jerky, with a lot of savory taste, and a semi-moist, though rather tough, stringy chewing.
I think a good beer pairing for this is something lighter, more freshing, to help contrast the higher saltiness and stronger BBQ seasonings, try the maltier Firestone Double Barrel Ale (DBA), or the Newcastle Brown Ale.
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