Mike, who's known by his friends as "Crazy Mike", had been making jerky himself since 1994 when a friend bought him a dehydrator on a BOGO deal after watching a late night infomercial. Mike had been making homebrew and winning chili cook-offs at the time, so making jerky was right up his alley.
Crazy Mike's Beef Jerky is made from USDA Choice Beef, Eye Round, hickory smoked, and then slow cooked. It currently sells online from its website, as well as in one of Mike's friend's bars.
USDA Choice Beef, water, wheat gluten, salt, soybeans, sugar, ginger, garlic, caramel coloring, natural hickory smoke flavoring, various peppercorns
The first flavors to hit my tongue is a light sweet and smoke. Some light soy sauce flavor comes in right after. The chewing brings in more of the sweet and smoke, while some natural meat flavors come on strong. There's a light black pepper flavor in the background.
For being labeled, "Peppered", it seems to hold up. I get a light black pepper flavor in each bite, but only light enough to notice in the background without overpowering, or making this jerky too spicy. There's also plenty of black pepper dusting on each piece.
Otherwise, the flavors that define this jerky are much like with the company's "Original" flavor, sweet and smoky. The light soy sauce marinade is noticeable, with the black pepper seasoning in the background. There's still enough spiciness from the black pepper that I couldn't consider this as "mild", but perhaps "mild-medium" (level 2 out of 5) on my heat scale.
The meat consistency looks excellent. I see only small bits of fat here and there, otherwise it's all meat. These strips bite off easily and vary between chewing tender to chewy, though most are tender. They have a very meaty feel, and once chewed down soft, they feel just like pieces of real steak.
This Peppered beef jerky from Crazy Mike's tastes much like the company's, "Original" variety, but with the addition of black pepper seasoning. The real wood smoke flavoring remains the star of this jerky, along with the excellent meat consistency and chewing. While the addition of black pepper makes for an overall better flavor, I still find this one rather one-dimensional in flavor, with the smoke as the significant ingredient. The black pepper still seems so much a common ingredient in most jerky brands, that it's hard to identify this Peppered variety as significantly different from the Original.
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