Wilderville's Country Beef Jerky is a small, USDA inspected meat processor based in Grants Pass, OR.
The company was started by Jim and Sally Lawson in August 2008 with the goal of making beef jerky that tastes great and is not hard to chew. Launching the new business allowed Jim to come off the road from long haul trucking after more than 30 years.
The Lawsons sell their beef jerky at farmers markets and from their website. Currently they offer five flavors, including this Original, along with Red Pepper, Black Pepper, Teriyaki, and Black Pepper Teriyaki, which I'll be reviewing over the next several weeks.
Beef, marinade (water, distilled vinegar, salt, brown sugar, hydrolyzed soy and corn protein, corn syrup, garlic, onion, molasses, black pepper, anchovies, caramel coloring, hickory smoke flavor, tamarind, sodium benzoate).
The first thing I taste from the surface of these pieces is a moderate saltiness, light amounts of sweet, and faint flavors of worcestershire.
The chewing flavor starts with a bit more saltiness, and a bit more definition of the worcestershire. There's a light natural meat flavor noticeable.
This Original variety seems to have a light taste profile overall, mostly anchored by a moderately defined worcestershire flavor. That is, it tends to taste more watered down than worcestershire straight from the bottle, but there's still enough definition to identify it as worcestershire.
The natural meat flavors are perhaps the next most noticeable flavor, but takes a few extra chews before I start identifying them.
The saltiness overall feels to be at a medium level.
There's very light touches of sweet mixed into the worcestershire flavor, and I also want to say I can identify a light onion flavor mixed into there as well.
Overall, what you're going to notice in this jerky is a light to moderate flavor intensity marked by a lightly sweetened worcestershire sauce flavor, along with a light natural meat flavor, and a moderate saltiness.
These are slices of whole meat, sliced to a medium thickness, and in small to medium sized strips.
This is a dry jerky with a dry surface feel. The strips are cut against the grain, similar to the way beef brisket is cut. They have partial flexibility in that they'll bend a little bit but will will crack open easily. Biting chunks off is easy to do, and chewing seems easy.
The chewing texture starts off dry but soft, and seems to offer no chewing resistance. They break down very quickly and chew down to a soft mass with just little chewing. At that point, it has a meaty, fibrous feel, but not really like a grilled steak. The meat fibers don't mesh together and feel somewhat crumbly, perhaps due to how the strips are sliced, and how dry they are.
I see only small bits of fat on a few of these strips, but encountered no gristle or tendon. I didn't encounter any stringiness nor found any unchewable wads of tissue.
In terms of clean eating, it's very clean. No residue on my fingertips, and very minimal fragments of meat flying off as I bit off chunks of meat.
Wilderville's Country Beef Jerky sells this Original variety from its website at a price of $6.00 for a 3.5oz package. If you bought 5 packages, the shipping comes to $7.50 if sent to Southern California. That works out to a price of $2.14 per ounce.
For general jerky snacking purposes, at the $2.14 price per ounce, this seems to offer a fair value. I get an average amount of snackability for an overall satisfactory flavor, good meat consistency, easy eating, and average chewing texture. That price is a little bit higher than what I'd end up paying for a major brand of jerky at the grocery store, but offers a similar snackability.
I'm giving this an average rating.
This Original variety from Wilderville Country Beef Jerky offers an overall light to moderate flavor intensity marked primarily by a light worcestershire flavor and light natural meat flavors. It's easy to eat and chew, it seems to be free of anything unchewable, crunchy, or rubbery, and isn't messy to handle.
Generally, it's a simple tasting jerky that lends itself to a quick snacking fix. But compared to Original varieties of the other 200+ brands of jerky I've reviewed, it's unremarkable. It doesn't offer a unique flavor, though it's still a satisfying flavor if you're just looking to snack away over a beer, or take a rest along a hike. But there isn't anything in here to interest the gourmet jerky lover.
I think due to the way these strips are sliced, being cut against the grain, and then dehydrated to a dry state, tends to make them chew with a crumbly feel, where the meat fibers don't mesh together.
As for my recommended beer pairing, try an Irish style red ale or brown ale to give you some malt flavors to go with the light meat flavor, but still light enough on flavor to not overpower the jerky. Try a Smithwicks, or a Murphy's Irish Red.
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