Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Climax Jerky - Smoked Elk

Climax Jerky - Smoked ElkElk is one of the exotic meats that the US Department of Agriculture allows to be sold as "venison". But unlike deer, which most of us think of as true venison, elk is not as gamey, and more like beef.

This package of Smoked Elk is from Climax Jerky, a family-run business based out of Dillon, CO. It's headed by Brooke Comai, who got it started in 1998 by selling bags of jerky atop Fremont Pass along the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Her family continues to sell their jerky up at that elevation to tourists and bicyclists braving the thin atmosphere.

This particular smoked elk happens to be the best selling jerky at Climax. It's a tenderloin cut of elk smoked with hickory, and is very moist. It actually needs to be kept refrigerated, even if the package has never been opened. In July 2007, Men's Journal magazine named it the best jerky in the entire country.

(And they must have eaten an awful lot of jerky to figure that one out).


Elk, seasoning (brown sugar, salt, sugar, spices, onion, garlic), water, vegetable dry powder (celery juice, sea salt, raw sugar, spices), lactic acid starter culture.


The tastes I get from the surface of these pieces is a slight bit of smokiness, a slight bit of sweetness, and a faint meaty aroma. Moving into the chewing, I pick up some saltiness, and a good deal of meat flavors. In the swallowing, I get some gamey taste.

First off, this isn't a jerky that you suck on and savor as there's little taste for that. This is largely a jerky that you bite off and chew right away. All of the flavor seems to be in the chewing.

And that flavor is the natural meat flavors, which dominates this jerky overall. I get a strong meat aftertaste as well. I'm not an elk expert, so perhaps I'm not credentialed to describe the quality of this elk. But I can tell that it's different from beef. The meat has that "gamey" taste to a slight degree, which I think is the result of elk meat being more densely packed with blood. That blood is probably what also gives this meat a slight sweet flavor.

And that slight sweet meat flavor tends to show up in greater degrees in certain areas of these strips. In a some bites, I almost thought there was some kind of fruit mixed in, like maybe raisin, or cranberry. But there isn't any, just pure meat.

And for being free of preservatives, this has a fresh taste, provided it's kept refrigerated until you open it.

In terms of others flavors, the garlic is noticeable and does give off a slight garlic aftertaste. I can also sense the aftertaste of black pepper. And there is also that slight sweetness off the surface. But for the most part, these flavors are all slight. It's the natural meat flavors that I taste the most.

There's also salt, but even the saltiness is not strong, maybe just moderate at the most.

After several pieces, I can feel a slight spicy bite in the back of my mouth. I don't know if that's the black pepper, or something else. This jerky is still mild in terms of spiciness.

Overall, it's a delicious jerky that punches out a strong taste of smoked elk meat, with hints of other spices, just enough to make the meat more interesting.

Meat Consistency

These appear to be strips of whole meat, sliced into widths of about 1/2 to 1 inch, and in lengths of about 4 inches. They are sliced very thick.

It's a very moist and tender jerky. It's almost like eating it straight off of a barbecue grill. And it's very soft to eat. It bites off as easily as a stick of string cheese, and probably about as easy to chew.

The chewing texture has a lot of that fibrous, steak-like quality, but it also has a mushy texture to some degree.

These strips have a lot of moisture on the outside, leaving some of it on my fingertips.

And they're also very lean, I didn't really find any pieces of fat, tendon, or gristle.

Climax Jerky - Smoked Elk

Climax Jerky - Smoked Elk
Snack Value

Climax Jerky sells this Smoked Elk at a price of $12.45 for a 4 ounce package. That works out to a price of $3.11 per ounce, making it expensive. You can get it at a lower $2.40 per ounce if you buy the larger 16 ounce package.

For general jerky snacking purposes, it's a fair value, but only because of the high price. All of its taste comes in the chewing, and you'd only enjoy this if you love the taste of elk. Otherwise, the soft and moist texture of this meat will have you eating through this so quickly, you may not gain much appreciation of the elk.

As an elk jerky, I think it's a much better value. You'd eat this purely to enjoy the flavors of elk that makes this meat so unique. And in fact, you're getting a lot of natural meat flavors. If you can discipline yourself to eat this slowly, and think about the flavors you're experiencing, then you can get plenty of bang for your buck.


I'm giving this a best rating.

The strong taste of elk meat is what won me over with this jerky. Considering you'd pay a lot of money to acquire a bag of this stuff, getting a strong dose of the elk flavors is what you'd hope to get, and you definitely get it here.

The seasonings in this jerky are light, but that's better only because it adds some interest to the meat, rather than take over the meat entirely.

And then there's the unusually soft and moist consistency to this meat that adds to the overall pleasure of eating this.

Climax Jerky also offers this elk jerky in teriyaki, peppered, and spicy. I think the spicy might actually be more enjoyable, just because I seem to like everything spicy.

I think a great companion beer is some kind of porter.

Rating: Best

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  1. WHAT CRAP! Thers is more rub than meat. Whatever happened to "real" jerky;JUST SMOKE AND COLD SMOKE. THE YANKEES HAVE TAKEN OVER!!!

  2. I'm not sure what the first poster here was looking at the pieces I've seen are rather meaty.

    Having grown up eating Elk and Deer I would say I have a very good handle on what elk should taste like.

    Elk taste very similar to beef with a strong game flavor its very distinct and in my opinion the best red meat in the world.

    You can tell this is Elk by its color as elk has a dark red color it almost looks black.

    The reason for this is that Elk are lean they spook easily and they run and don't look back even farm Elk are like this.

    Having said this, I would have to disagree with Steve's rating of this Jerky, the whole point of Elk jerky is the nice gamy meat taste and this jerky covers up the Elk flavor too much.

    My ratting for Elk jerky on this is poor, if your willing to spend money on Elk jerky I suggest a jerky that has a more Elk meat flavor.