According to the brand's website and Facebook page, it's been around since 2012, originally launching under the name, "What a Jerky!". But Stanley Chase previously made and marketed another brand of vegan jerky called, "Morels the Vegan Butcher", which we reviewed here on Best Beef Jerky.
Louisville Vegan Jerky Co. represents a rebirth of Stanley Chase III as a vegan jerky specialist. Now with new recipes, non-gluten ingredients, Non-GMO certified, and adding touches of Kentucky sorghum for a local flair, Chase is taking soy-based jerky snacks full steam ahead into the eclectic world of vegan snacking.
Pete's Bourbon Smoked Black PepperIngredients: Textured soy protein, tamari, olive oil, contains less than 2% of the following: sorghum, garlic, onion, spices, vinegar, natural flavor.
The first flavor to hit my palate is a light soy sauce and touches of oil. The chewing brings on a bit more of the soy sauce, but also a light smoky taste. There's only touches of black pepper flavor noticeable.
For being advertised as "Bourbon Smoked Black Pepper", it's hard to say if this really holds up to that description. If anything, there is a light smoky character that remains throughout the snacking. But I don't really get much black pepper, and nor do I taste anything reminiscent of Bourbon.
Otherwise, the flavors that seem to define this jerky over anything else, is the light soy sauce and light smokiness. There's also a faint garlic & onion seasoning in the background, along with a touch of oily flavor and feel, and that's about it.
As far as the chewing goes, it has that classic sponge-like chewing that many other soy-based jerky brands have. It's comparable to eating dehydrated apple slices, except without the fruity, tart flavor of apples.
Verdict: This Bourbon Smoked Black Pepper didn't quite give me enough black pepper flavor that I had hoped, nor did it offer any Bourbon-like taste or character. But it still offers quite a savory taste profile, very much like other brands of beef jerky. Overall, it's still largely a soy sauced-jerky with some basic seasonings and light smokiness added, which for me doesn't really push this jerky out of the ballpark. I think the chewing is actually an improvement over what Stanley Chase had with Morels the Vegan Butcher; it's still like chewing a sponge, but I think there's a bit more density to these soy-strips.
Bourbon Smoked ChipotleIngredients: Textured soy protein, tamari, olive oil, contains less than 2% of the following: sorghum, chipotle powder, ancho chili powder, garlic, onion, spices, vinegar, natural smoke flavor.
The first thing I pick up on the tongue is a light soy sauce flavor, and a wee bit of heat. I can pick up a light smokey chipotle flavor and touches of chile pepper flavor. The chewing brings on more of the same flavors, but in more definition.
Considering the labeling as "Bourbon Smoked Chipotle", this seems to hold up a little better. I do taste light amounts of smokey chipotle seasoning along with a touch of chile pepper flavor. I also get a light bit of heat, rating as "mild medium" on my personal heat scale (level 2 out of 5). I don't, however, pick up any kind of Bourbon flavor of character.
Otherwise, the flavors that define this jerky's taste profile is largely the soy sauce and light garlic and onion seasoning. The smokey chipotle and touches of chile pepper flavor are there to help add more variation to the overall taste, but they remain light.
The chewing is much like with the Bourbon Smoked Black Pepper, mostly like a sponge, comparable to dehydrated apple slices.
Verdict: Despite holding up to its advertised flavor a little bit better than the Bourbon Smoked Black Pepper, this Bourbon Smoked Chipotle doesn't really set itself apart from the many other meat-based chipotle jerky brands I've had. As a soy-based vegan jerky, it's an amazing alternative to beef jerky. But as far as flavor goes, I'm struggling to find something that knocks a fastball out of the ballpark.
Enid's Sriracha MapleIngredients: Textured soy protein, tamari, Sriracha chili sauce, maple syrup, olive oil, contains less than 2% of the following: garlic, onion, spices, vinegar, natural smoke flavor, natural flavors.
The first flavors that hit my palate is a light smoky soy sauce. I can pick up wee traces of sriracha sauce. The chewing brings on a little bit more of the Sriracha flavor, along with some heat. I can detect some sweetness, and faint bits of garlic and onion seasonings.
For being advertised as "Sriracha Maple", it holds up somewhat. I do get the Sriracha sauce characterized by its famous combination of chile peppers and garlic, but not to any large extent. It remains a secondary flavor. I don't really get the maple, however. Instead, I taste touches of sweet, but can't really identify that woody, nutty, cinnamony, breakfast flavor that maple syrup offers.
Otherwise, the dominant flavors of this jerky remains the soy sauce, with garlic and onion seasonings, just as with the two previous flavors I reviewed above. The Sriracha sauce is noticeable, but only there to add some flair.
The chewing remains much like with the other flavors I reviewed above, chewy yet spongey, comparable to dehydrated apple slices.
Verdict: I certainly love adding Sriracha sauce to jerky, and I enjoyed that flavor in this, though I wished it offered more. In the end, this variety of jerky still tastes much like the others, a soy sauced-based flavor with seasonings of garlic and onion, as opposed to something designed with Sriracha Sauce and Maple Syrup from the ground up.
Carrie's Sesame TeriyakiIngredients: Textured soy protein, tamari, water, teriyaki sauce, sesame oil, contains less than 2% of the following: sesame seeds, vinegar, garlic, onion, spices, natural smoke flavor.
The first flavor I taste from these pieces is the sesame seed oil. The soy sauce comes in later. The chewing brings on more of the same, with faint touches of teriyaki, and bits of ginger. There's also a light oily flavor noticeable.
For being marketed as "Sesame Teriyaki", this seems to hold up well. I do get a lot of sesame seed flavor, mostly as sesame oil. But I also get a fair amount of teriyaki sauce flavor too, along with a touch of ginger, which I often find lacking in other teriyaki jerky brands. Together, they create a taste profile that's unmistakably Asian.
Otherwise, the flavors that define this jerky starts with the sesame seed. The teriyaki and soy sauce combine together, along with the garlic, onion, and ginger seasonings.
The chewing is very much like the other varieties, chewy yet spongey, comparable to dehydrated apple slices.
Verdict: I liked this Sesame Teriyaki over the other three varieties. Sesame seed oil never fails to make a recipe taste more Asian, and I find it awesome with teriyaki, curry, and other inspired marinades. This particular variety, however, features the sesame as the dominant flavor, as opposed the soy sauce marinade. It's as if this recipe was designed from the ground up to feature the sesame and teriyaki. It still could use a bit more teriyaki over soy sauce, however.
Overall, Louisville Vegan Jerky Co. seems to do a better job at creating soy-based jerky snacks than any other brand I've tried, and I've reviewed many other soy-based jerky brands. It's still far from the chewing texture and taste of real beef jerky, and thus if you're a carnivore, you probably won't care for this. Vegans, on the other hand, I think will love this.
However, I find that Louisville's four varieties reviewed here are really just based on the same soy sauce with garlic and onion marinade. It's really that base marinade that's take the spotlight in three of the four varieties. The additional flavors of Sriracha, or Black Pepper, or Chipotle, or Sesame, are just added in for extra variation. It'd be nicer to see each of them as the featured ingredient, with a unique recipe engineered to compliment.
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