Next up in the series on Wilderness Jerky Outlet is this Cherry Maple Smoked Beef. See last week's review of their plain Smoked Beef.
Wilderness Jerky Outlet is a brand of Wilderness Jerky Outlet, Inc. of St. Johns, MI. It's an actual store where you walk in and buy a variety of smoked meats including jerky, meat sticks, sausages, smoked salmon, and a few other things. But they also have a website where you can buy their products online.
The company claims to trace its origins from a single line of beef jerky available at "Beck's Farm Market" back in 1959.
As of today, many of their jerky products are manufactured by Michigan Brands, Inc., a company that seems to make jerky for a lot of other Michigan-based jerky companies. You can read my prior reviews of Bulk Beef Jerky and Bruce's Jerky, both of which were made by them.
Beef, sugar, cherry syrup, salt, maple flavor, onion, garlic, spice, sodium erythorbate, sodium nitrite.
The first thing I taste from the surface of these pieces is a strong sweet flavor. After some sucking I get maybe a faint bit of saltiness, but not much else.
The chewing flavor starts with an increased saltiness, and then followed by a natural meat flavor. There's also more sweetness found inside the meat.
For being labeled "Cherry Maple Smoked Beef", I'm not tasting any cherry flavor in this. I don't even get a fruity flavor. What I do taste is a fair amount of sweetness but that just may come from the sugar and syrup ingredients.
As for the maple, I can pick up a light bit of it but it doesn't pronounce itself well as maple. That is, I have to think carefully about what I'm tasting and then realize "oh yeah, that kinda does taste like maple".
And then even with the "Smoked" part of the labeling, it's tough to identify the smokiness, even more so than with the company's plain Smoked Beef I reviewed last week. It's like there's no smokiness to this at all.
Overall, the flavor that seems to define this jerky is the natural meat flavors, but it's not as strong as with the plain Smoked Beef. It's at a moderate intensity, not really light but not really strong. But the sweetness is also a prominent component, noticeable on the surface and inside the meat itself.
The other spices, particularly the onion and garlic are not well noticeable either, perhaps due to the stronger sweet. The saltiness tastes like it's at a low level.
What you're going to notice in this jerky is primarily a moderately intense natural meat flavor with a good deal of sweetness mixed in and a light saltiness. You won't really taste any cherry flavor and maybe a touch of maple flavor.
These are strips of whole meat, sliced thick and in small to medium sizes.
This is a moist jerky with a wet surface feel. There's a lot of flexibility to these strips, bending almost all the way around with little cracking. It's easy to bite off chunks and chewing seems easy too.
The chewing texture starts out feeling soft and tender offering up little to no chewing resistance. It chews down to a soft mass very quickly and at that point it feels just like eating a steak cooked medium, but perhaps more soft.
Unlike with the plain Smoked Beef I reviewed earlier, some of these strips have visible streaks of fat, some of which offered up some rubbery chew. I also found a nice big piece of tendon in one strip, and it seems I found more stringiness than the company's Smoked Beef.
As for clean eating, handling these strips leave a good deal of moisture on my fingers which require a licking and wiping, and after awhile that residue feels a touch sticky.
Wilderness Jerky Outlet sells this Cherry Maple Smoked Beef at a price of $6.25 for a 4oz package. I bought several other of their flavors and sizes for a total of 32oz at $62.00. They waive the shipping if you buy over $50.00. That worked out to $1.94 per ounce.
For general jerky snacking purposes at the $1.94 per ounce price, this Smoked Beef seems to provide a decent value. I'm getting a fair amount of snackability for a good overall flavor, a great meat consistency and great chewing texture. That's about what you'll pay for one of the major brands of jerky at a grocery store, and I think you'll get slightly better snackability.
As a Cherry Maple Smoked Beef, at the same $1.94 per ounce price, it's a weak value. I'm not tasting any cherry flavor and just a touch of maple flavor, and hardly any smokiness.
I'm giving this an average rating.
This Cherry Maple Smoked Beef from Wilderness Jerky Outlet sounded like it would taste really great considering the words "cherry maple smoked", but this jerky doesn't really deliver on any of those three flavors. What I get instead is a lot of sweetness. Maybe only the maple is noticeable, but only if I think carefully about what I'm tasting.
But when something is labeled as having a particular flavor it ought to belt that flavor out and not make you have to search for it. Otherwise my anticipations are left unfulfilled and it leaves me feeling disappointed.
But just judging this by its own merits, there's a natural meat flavor to this, though not as strong as with the company's plain Smoked Beef, and it has the same easy chewing and steak-like chewing, though I seem to find more stringiness and tendon this Cherry Maple. But aside from a natural meat flavor, there's really only a strong sweet and light saltiness for flavoring, and that's really not enough for me.
I think a good beer pairing for this is an IPA, the stronger hops should help bring out the other flavors. Try the Stone IPA or the Sierra Nevada Torpedo IPA.
Buy this online:
- Update: Dec 19, 2012, this company appears to be out of business now.