The company launched in February 2008 when owners Scott Carlin and Cal Siegfried bought the business, which had then been known as Butler's Beef Acres, from Scott's parents, Harold and Theresa Carlin. Overall, the business has been around since 1964.
Willow Creek Meats obtained USDA inspection when both Carlin and Siegfried decided to take their jerky national. Their "Just Right" beef jerky is their signature flavor, with a second, "Jalapeno" also on the menu.
Beef, water, seasoning (salt, spice, garlic powder, spice extractive), seasoning (salt, cane sugar, sodium nitrate, maple sugar, potassium sorbate).
The first thing I taste from the surface of these pieces is a fair amount of saltiness. There's just a touch of seasoning, perhaps garlic, noticeable.
The chewing flavor starts with a light burst of black pepper, a slightly increased saltiness, and light amount of natural meat flavor. There's also a light spiciness in the back of my mouth.
For being dubbed, "Just Right", I suppose that varies from person to person. But it does seem to have a nice balance of seasonings, natural meat flavors, and a touch of sweet. I actually find it a little more on the salty side than what I would prefer, but still within the realm of tolerance.
Otherwise, the flavors that seems to define this jerky is the saltiness colored by the garlic and black pepper seasoning, a light natural meat flavor, and a touch of sweet.
The natural meat flavors, along with the saltiness and seasonings, has a "cured" meat flavor, resembling something similar to beef sticks.
The light spiciness in the back of my mouth creates a little bit of heat, rating a "mild-medium" on my personal heat scale (level 2 out of 5), but probably tolerable for most people. If anything, the higher saltiness may seem like it's spicier than it really is.
Overall, it's a lightly spicy jerky, offering mostly a seasoned saltiness with a light natural meat flavor.
These are slices of whole meat, sliced into slabs of medium to thick thickness, and in small to medium sized pieces.
This is a slighly moist jerky with a moist, slightly sticky, surface feel. There's a good deal of flexibility in these slabs, almost having a rubbery consistency, but still showing is meat fibers when tearing off strips. Overall, chewing is easy.
The chewing texture starts out with some initial chewing resistance, feeling little rubbery. But it chews easily enough and before too long starts to feel meaty, fibrous, but more like ham. Once chewed down to a soft mass, it feels and chews like real meat.
This jerky appears to be very lean, showing no bits or streaks of fat. I don't any gristle or tendon, and encountered no stringiness at all.
In terms of clean eating my fingertips pick up a light amount of stickiness, but still dry enough to type without licking or wiping them off first.
Willow Creek Meats sells this "Just Right" Beef Jerky from its website at a price of $5.00 per 3oz package. If you bought six packages, shipping would estimate around $7.00. That would work out to a price of $2.06 per ounce.
For general jerky snacking purposes, at the $2.06 per ounce price, it seems to present a decent value. I get a decent amount snackability for an overall satisfying flavor, good meat consistency and good chewing texture. Compared to major brands of jerky sold at grocery stores, this is priced similarly, but seems to offer a little better flavor, though much better meat consistency and chewing.
This "Just Right" beef jerky from Willow Creek Meats provides an overall snackable flavor, mostly as a saltiness blended with garlic and black pepper, but retains a light bit of natural meat flavor and a touch of sweet. It's great for folks who like a more traditional flavor of jerky reminiscent of the American heartland.
It's certainly does well with its meat consistency, being very lean with nothing unchewable or stringy. It provides a nice meaty chewing texture, though can start out feeling a little rubbery. Overall, it's soft, tender chewing provides a welcome relief from the hard, leathery gnawing required by convenience store brands.
But for the beef jerky aficionado who's looking for flavors that go beyond the wide array of plain, original flavors, this "Just Right" variety seems to sit in the middle of the lot with other average rated jerky brands. It's soft, tender chewing and good meat consistency seem to be it's strength, and can't help thinking that all it needs is a more unique marinade to create more separation.
My recommended beer pairing, go with a smoky porter, such as the Stone Smoked Porter, or the Anchor Porter.
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