JV Jerky is a brand of JV Jerky, Inc. based out of Lodi, OH. It's actually more well known by locals in the North East Ohio area as part of Mack's Food Center, a fixture in Medina County since 1947 as a combination grocery store, deer processor, and meat locker.
Both Mack's Food Center and JV Jerky are owned by John Vanni, the son of the original owners, and seems the likely candidate where JV Jerky gets it namesake. The company manufacturers its jerky in a smokehouse next to Mack's Food Center, using real hickory wood.
JV Jerky offers six flavors altogether, including this Mild, as well as Habanero, Hawaiian, Hot, Hot Cajun, and Teriyaki, which I'll be reviewing over the coming weeks.
Beef, salt, monosodium glutamate, black pepper, garlic powder, maltodextrin, modified food starch, sodium nitrite, soy lecithin.
The first thing I taste from the surface of these pieces is a heavy oily flavor, with a light touch of garlic. A light saltiness comes in later.
The chewing flavor starts with an increased saltiness, followed by the natural meat flavors, a little bit more garlic, and a fair amount of black pepper.
For being dubbed a Mild variety, it seems to stand up to that. It's not hot or spicy by any means, but there's a noticeable black pepper component that does add bit of a bite to the flavor, but still shouldn't aggravate anyone's taste buds.
The flavor that seems to dominate this jerky are the natural meat flavors and black pepper. The meat flavors don't really come in right away, but take a few chews to start noticing. There's maybe just a touch of smokiness in this, but not really that noticeable if you're snacking away on this. The heavy degree of oiliness on the surface of these pieces adds a considerable amount of taste, which perhaps enhances the overall natural meat flavor.
There's something of a light gamey flavor to this beef, or at least that's the best way I can describe it. I don't think it's an actual gamey flavor, the way you find in wild game, but I don't think it's the hickory smoke, nor the maltodextrin. It seems to enhance the natural meat flavors and make them more pronounced.
The black pepper is something I don't notice immediately from the first piece I ate, but after a few pieces it becomes much more noticeable, and seemingly a dominant contributor to this jerky's overall flavor. It's not a heavy flavor by any means, but perhaps because this jerky doesn't have any other ingredient dominating my palate, it's more noticeable.
The garlic is lightly noticeable, while the level of saltiness in this seems to be at a medium level.
Overall, what you're going to notice in this is mostly the natural meat flavors, with a good deal of oily flavor, a moderate saltiness, a well-noticeable black pepper, and a light bit of garlic.
These slices of whole meat, sliced into strips of varying widths and lengths, and in small to medium sized pieces.
This is a dry jerky with a very oily surface. These pieces have only a little bit of flexibility, cracking open with just a small degree of bending. Biting chunks off of these strips seems easy to do, and chewing seems quite easy as well.
The chewing texture starts out feeling soft and tender, with barely any chewing resistance. It breaks down and chews to a soft mass quite easily and quickly, and at that point, feels just like eating a real piece of steak, perhaps cooked medium-well.
There's quite a bit of fat noticeable on these strips, some of which was thick enough to create some rubbery chewing. I don't find any streaks of gristle or tendon. I did find a light bit of stringiness, but overall I'm not getting much unchewable wads of tissue.
As for clean eating, these are not. Each handling presents a good deal of oiliness on my fingers, requiring a licking and wiping before touching anything else.
JV Jerky sells this Mild variety from its website at a price of $7.75 for an 8oz package. If you bought four packages, the shipping costs to Southern California works out to $14.16, for a total of $1.42 per ounce.
For general jerky snacking purposes, at the $1.42 price per ounce, it's a good value. I'm getting an average amount of snackability for an overall good flavor, easy eating, though a very oily meat consistency and some rubbery chewing in the thicker streaks of fat. That price is considerably lower than what you'll spend at the grocery store for major brands of jerky, but still provides a better flavor.
I'm giving this an average rating.
This mild variety from JV Jerky provides mostly a natural meat flavor, with a fair amount of oily flavor, with a noticeable black pepper bite. You'll find a moderate degree of saltiness, with a touch of garlic.
Overall, it's a good flavor, one that puts the natural meat flavors center stage, with a supporting cast of simple seasonings that do a good job of enhancing those flavors. Considering JV Jerky smokes their jerky over real hickory wood, I don't really pick up much smokiness from this. But while I think it's a good flavor, it doesn't quite give me the "wow factor" I look for in a Best rated jerky.
The heavy degree of oiliness on these strips is something that stands out from the 200+ brands I've reviewed thus far. It's not necessarily a negative for me, but could be something to consider for others. But I did find negative the thicker, chewier streaks of fat in some of the strips that I think it drags this jerky down from good to average.
On the other hand, this is priced considerably less than the major labels like Jack Link's and Oberto, even with the shipping included, and still has a better flavor.
I think a good beer pairing for this is a simple IPA. The stronger hops should help cut through the heavier oiliness and create a nice contrast. Try the Stone IPA or the Sierra Nevada Torpedo.
Where to buy: