Next in the series on Mike's Coutry Meats is this Pepper Style. See my previous review of their Regular Beef Jerky.
Mike's Country Meats, LLC is a state-inspected beef jerky manufacturer based in Campbellsport, WI. The company has been making jerky since 2002.
It's actually been in operation since 1984 as Mike's Wild Game Processing serving local deer hunters. Slowly over the years business expanded and by 1998 they had constructed a larger facility. In 2002 they opened up their own store selling fresh cuts of meat and sausage, as well as beef jerky. The jerky business took off quickly and soon became the company's primary focus.
Beef, seasoned with: soy sauce, tomato paste, worcestershire sauce, natural flavoring, onion salt, garlic salt, cayenne pepper, habanero pepper, black pepper, spices, onion powder, garlic powder.
The first thing I taste from the surface of these pieces is a worcestershire sauce flavor with a fair amount of sweetness. There's a moderate amount of saltiness too.
The chewing flavor starts with a bit more definition from the worcestershire sauce and a light bit of natural meat flavor. I can taste the black pepper, and feel a light amount of heat.
For being labeled "Pepper Style" this seems to hold up. I'm getting a good deal of black pepper after having eaten a few pieces already. On a piece-by-piece basis, the flavor varies from light to moderate, but after several pieces, it builds up a strong flavor. While the ingredients shows cayenne pepper and habanero pepper, I don't really taste those flavors, but I do feel a light amount of burn. I'd rate it as "mild-medium" on my heat scale (level 2 out of 5).
But I think the sweetened worcestershire flavor is still the dominant flavor of this jerky. The black pepper has a strong profile, but it's flavor still seems to attack the back of my mouth, whereas the sweetened worcestershire sits on the middle of my palate.
There's also an onion powder flavor going on in this that seemingly rounds out the flavor of this jerky.
The natural meat flavors are mostly not noticeable, but I did find a few thicker sliced pieces that did give off a light amount of flavor.
The level of saltiness in this feels to be at a moderate intensity, but may seem higher due to the strong spiciness.
Overall what you're going to notice in this is a sweetened worcestershire sauce flavor, a strong black pepper flavor, a low-to-medium level of heat, and some onion powder seasoning.
These are slices of whole meat, sliced into thin slabs, and in small to medium sized pieces.
This is a dry jerky with a dry surface feel. Most pieces have a lot of flexibility, being able to bend back on itself with minimal cracking. Tearing pieces apart with my fingers seems mostly easy, some requiring a bit more effort. Chewing seems "chewy" and a bit labored.
The chewing texture starts off feeling chewy and pliable with a fair amount of chewing resistance. The pieces require a fair amount of labored chewing to get down to a soft mass. And by that time, they tend to have a meaty, somewhat steak-like chewing texture.
Some of these pieces have small bits of fat visible on them, but they don't seem to contribute any flavor. Some pieces tend to have some stringiness, but overall I found no tendon or gristle. I encountered just a light amounts of unchewable tissues.
In terms of clean eating, my fingers don't pick up any residue handling these pieces, but there's a good deal of black pepper bits falling off as I tear pieces apart.
Mike's Country Meats sells this Peppered Style from its website at a price of $12.00 for an 8oz package. If you buy three packages, sent to Southern California, the total with shipping works out to $44.00. That works out to $1.83 per ounce.
For general jerky snacking purposes, at the $1.83 per ounce price, this seems to provide a decent value. I'm getting an average snackability for an overall satisfying flavor, good meat consistency and good chewing texture, though it demands some labored chewing. That price is in the same ballpark as the major brands of jerky, and seems to provide a similar snackability.
As a "Pepper Style" beef jerky, at the same $1.83 per ounce price, this provides a good value. I'm getting a lot of black pepper flavor, though with ground black pepper instead of cracked black pepper, but I'm also getting some heat from the cayenne and habanero pepper.
I'm giving this an average rating.
This Peppered Style from Mike's Country Meats provides plenty of black pepper flavor along with some heat from cayenne pepper and habanero pepper. It's still mostly a sweetened worcestershire flavor with some onion powder flavor mixed in, quite similar to the company's Regular Beef Jerky, except adds a spicy peppery contrast.
That black pepper flavor and the bit of heat from the cayenne pepper and habanero definitely creates a more well-rounded flavor, balancing out the light sweet and moderate saltiness. But it still comes off tasting like many other brands that rely on a combination of pepper and worcestershire as their base flavor.
It's definitely a snackable flavor, more so than the company's Regular flavor, and it does offer a good meat consistency and chewing texture, which interestingly I found better than the Regular flavor. Yet, I didn't think that was still enough to consider this jerky as above average.
My recommended beer pairing for this, stick with the lighter bodied brown ales like the Newcastle Brown Ale or the Moose Drool Brown Ale.
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