I had first reviewed Papa Dan's Beef Jerky in March 2009 with their Carne Asada and Ring of Fire varieties. Recently the company contacted me about getting more of their jerky reviewed and submitted four more flavors.
Papa Dan's is a brand of Batistelli Foods, based in Fullerton, CA. The brand was started by David Batistelli along with his father in 1988, rather than 1997 as I had mentioned in the previous reviews. Originally they ran it under a company called DSD Enterprises based in Brea, CA, and operated their own manufacturing facility. Later, David closed the facility and for awhile Papa Dan's was manufactured by Old Settler in West Covina.
Eventually, David got out of the beef jerky business, but later on got back in after a friend of his, who runs Monrovia, CA-based TM Jerky & Processing, purchased his old Brea facility.
Beef steak, water seasoning (salt, sugar, brown sugar, maple sugar, sodium nitrite), teriyaki sauce, spices, worcestershire sauce, liquid smoke, vinegar, sodium nitrite.
The first thing I taste from the surface of these pieces is a light black pepper flavor, and a light saltiness. There's also a touch of smokiness.
The chewing flavor starts with a higher saltiness, along with a moderate vinegar flavor, a little bit of garlic, and a well-noticeable black pepper. There's maybe a smidgeon of natural meat flavor.
For being labeled as "Old Fashioned", I suppose this jerky holds up to that description. Although I don't know what specifically defines a jerky as having an old fashioned flavor, this jerky does have a flavor profile that reminds me of a classic American jerky. When I think of jerky made the old fashioned way, I think of something with a lot of salt, some black pepper, some garlic, and a smoky flavor. And that's what I taste in this.
The ingredient that seems to make up the most of this jerky's flavor is the saltiness. I'd rate it at a high level. But the vinegar is also a significant flavor. In fact, if you like salt & vinegar potato chips, this jerky has a similar flavor, except with some black pepper and a little bit of garlic thrown in.
Despite having teriyaki sauce and worcestershire sauce in the ingredients, I don't really taste any of that.
The natural meat flavors are very light, providing just a touch of flavor against the stronger saltiness and vinegar.
Overall, what you're going to notice is a salt & vinegar flavor, with a sprinkling of black pepper and garlic seasoning.
These are slices of whole meat, sliced into thick strips ranging from three to seven inches long.
This is a semi-moist jerky inside with a dry to lightly oily surface feel. These strips have some flexibility, but will still crack open before bending completely back on itself. Biting off chunks seems easy enough, while chewing is also easy.
The chewing texture starts out feeling semi-soft, and slightly moist. There's very little chewing resistance to start out, and it seemingly breaks down easily and chews down to a soft mass with little effort. At that point, it seems to have a meaty chew, similar to a steak cooked medium-well, maybe just a little bit crumbly.
Most of these strips have small bits and streaks of fat, but for the most part appear fairly lean. I found a couple strips with streaks of tendon in them. There's a light bit of stringiness, but it didn't get in the way of chewing. I do find smaller unchewable wads of tissue in many of the strips, but overall they didn't present much of an issue.
As for clean eating, my fingertips do pick up light amounts of oil when I first opened the package, but after releasing the vacuum seal, the oil recedes back into the meat and my fingers manage to stay dry enough to type on my keyboard.
Papa Dan's sells this Old Fashioned variety from its website at a price of $23.99 for two 8oz packages. Add to that $7.56 for shipping to Southern California, and it totals out to $31.55. That's works out to be $1.97 per ounce.
For general jerky snacking purposes, at the $1.97 per ounce price, it's a decent value. I'm getting a fair amount of snackability for an overall snackable flavor, easy eating, and good chewing texture. That price is about the same as the major brands of jerky found in grocery stores, and seems to a comparable flavor, though a better meat consistency and chewing texture.
I'm giving this an average rating.
This Old Fashioned variety from Papa Dan's offers up a salt & vinegar flavor with some black pepper and garlic mixed in, and a light bit of smokiness, and seemingly succeeds at recreating an old fashioned flavor.
I found the high saltiness to be too much for my comfort level causing me to back off from eating this after several pieces, and thereby taking away from the snackability. There isn't much natural meat flavor in this, and perhaps if the saltiness were toned down there'd be more of it I might taste. Overall, I like that vinegar flavor in beef jerky, and I think it gives this jerky a better flavor than what I'd expect to get from the Original varieties of mainstream jerky brands.
If you don't mind the higher saltiness, then you'll love these thick meaty strips and the semi-moist chew. For me personally, it's too much salt for me.
My recommended beer pairing, I'd suggest a more refreshing, maltier pale ale to help counter the saltiness. Try the Widmer Drifter Pale Ale or the Firestone Double Barrel Ale.
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