Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Jerky Guy - Teriyaki

The Jerky Guy - TeriyakiThe Jerky Guy is a brand belonging to a company called Better Than Yours, Inc., based out of Jackson, CA.

It was started by Jon Beltran, the "jerky guy" himself, about 27 years ago after experimenting with jerky in his backyard smoker. After perfecting a basic recipe , he approached an old co-worker who had built up a reputation for developing a really mean teriyaki sauce. Beltran was able to get that recipe and incorporated it into his beef jerky.

I had talked to Beltran over the phone about his products, and he describes this particular teriyaki as a Hawaiian style. He said one time after handing out samples to some Japanese people, they looked up at him in amazement and wondered how he was able to get true teriyaki flavor in a jerky.

And having grown up with a Japanese mother, and actually living in Japan for a short while, I'm very intrigued by this claim.


Beef, sugar, soy sauce, sake, water, salt, natural extracts of garlic, onion, black pepper, rosemary, ginger.


The tastes I pick up from the surface of these pieces includes a moderate level sweetness, and a slight bit of ginger. In the chewing, I get a stronger ginger flavor, a bit of salty, some garlic, a hint of onion, and a little bit of tanginess.

If I were to chew a piece immediately after putting it into my mouth, I mostly get a lot of sweet flavor, and some ginger flavor. I think the best way to eat this is to suck on a piece for a few seconds, chew gently a few, suck out some juices, chew a little more, suck out more juices, etc. You'll get every bit of flavor that way.

This jerky is also heavily aromatic. As soon as I open the package, I get strong vinegar-like aroma wafting into my office. I think that smell creates anticipation and helps prepare a snacking urge.

So, do I think this jerky stands up to its claims of being a teriyaki variety? Yes, I think it does. It's definitely sweet, and salty. And, I get a decent level of ginger flavor, and a bit of the tanginess from the wine/sake, which are two elements of true teriyaki that most jerky brands exclude.

Soy sauce is another critical element of true teriyaki sauce, but often times people identify the saltiness from the soy sauce, as opposed to soy sauce's unique flavor. This jerky does provide a moderate-level saltiness, though I don't necessarily identify the soy sauce flavor. The other teriyaki elements, sweet, ginger, and wine/sake, are recognizable. Overall however, I do get a sense of tasting true teriyaki.

As for that saltiness, it's worth pointing out that it doesn't taste as intense as the nutrition facts label suggests. When talking Beltran about his jerky, he says the actual sodium content per 1oz serving is about 635mg, as opposed to the 1010mg listed on the label. He says the USDA didn't take into account that a lot of the seasoning and marinade falls off the meat during the dehydration process.

The natural meat flavors are not at all recognizable in this. There isn't any flavor in here that let's you know you're eating beef. Though being preservative free, it still seems to have a fresh taste.

Unlike the The Jerky Guy's Black Pepper variety that I reviewed earlier, I don't really pick up the rosemary or black pepper flavors, even though they're listed in the ingredients list. Obviously, the Black Pepper variety has more black pepper in it. As for the rosemary, it's probably been masked over by the stronger ginger flavor.

I noted the garlic and onion flavors above. I can get both the garlic and onion flavor in the chewing. The garlic seems to remain in the aftertaste.

That vinegar aroma I also mentioned above tends to give me a sense of flavor, but I think that's just my olfactory senses deceiving me. While I can certainly smell it, I don't actually taste it in this teriyaki jerky the way I could in the brand's black pepper variety.

Overall, this jerky is dominated by that teriyaki flavor, which is anchored quite well by the sweet, the salty, and the ginger flavors. The second-most dominant flavor is a combination of the garlic and onion flavors. I can't find any other flavor strong enough to warrant as third-dominant.

Meat Consistency

These appear to be slices of whole meat, sliced to a medium thickness, and in small to medium sized pieces.

This is mostly a dry jerky, though some pieces tend to be more moist. The drier pieces tend crack and break if bent just a little bit. The moist pieces have a good deal of flexibility. Overall, the pieces are easy to break and tear apart, and fairly easy to chew.

The chewing texture is varied. I found some pieces that have a gummy-like quality, almost to the point of like eating a fruit roll-up. But the drier pieces have more of a meaty character. Overall however, I still don't get a sense of eating a piece of steak in the way some other brands have been able to achieve. The gummier pieces feel nothing like meat. The drier pieces have a bit of fibrous, meat-like quality, but after several chews they don't mesh together. They instead chew down into tiny meat granules.

Better Than Yours, Inc. doesn't make their own jerky, rather they send their proprietary recipe to Jerky Snack Brands, and have them produce it. Jerky Snack Brands is a large meat processor that makes jerky for several brands. What you're getting from The Jerky Guy are tasty jerky recipes in a mass-market meat consistency.

As for clean eating, my fingers don't pick up any residue; for being a teriyaki jerky it isn't sticky and gooey like some other teriyaki jerky brands can be. Thus far, I haven't found any tiny fragments of meat falling on my lap or on my desk.

These pieces are largely free of visible fat with the exception of one piece depicted in the photos below, and free of tendon and gristle.

Snack Value

I paid $5.99 for this 3.5 ounce package directly from The Jerky Guy website. That works out to a price of $1.71 per ounce, putting this into the average price range. But keep in mind there's a $7.95 shipping fee per order. I bought three packages so that worked out to a price of $2.47 ounce, making it an expensive jerky.

For general jerky snacking purposes, at the $2.47 price per ounce, it's a fair value. It does have a lot of snackability based on its good flavor and ease of eating, but I'd have to buy several more packages to help drive that price per ounce down until it became a better value. While it's tasty jerky, I'm not getting that same level of "wow" that I got in this brand's black pepper variety.

As a teriyaki jerky, it's a good value. Even at the $2.47 price per ounce, it's a good value because it's hard to find true teriyaki flavor in a beef jerky. You're getting the tastes of sweet, the saltiness of soy sauce, the pungent contrast of ginger, and the tanginess of wine/sake. Most of the other teriyaki brands are only giving you sweetened soy sauce, and are leaving out the ginger and wine/sake.


I'm giving this a good rating.

This teriyaki variety from The Jerky Guy provides a tasty teriyaki flavor, and what I agree is along the lines of true teriyaki flavor. It has a good flavor complexity in that I can taste several ingredients individually, including the sweet, salty, ginger, sake, garlic, and onion. The flavor intensity is at a good-to-strong level.

But on terms of taste, I just didn't get that "wow" factor. It didn't really sock me in the face with a wallop of tastiness. It's basically a very good teriyaki flavor, with some garlic/onion thrown in for color.

In other words, this jerky met my expectations on what a teriyaki jerky should taste like, but didn't exceed those expectations.

I still don't taste any natural meat flavors, which is something I tend to put a lot of importance in. Without the meat flavors, a jerky needs to rely on an exceptional blend of seasonings and marinades to push it up to the top. But while it's a good teriyaki flavor, I just didn't find anything that excited me enough to overcome the lack of natural meat flavors.

I didn't find the meat consistency to be all that exceptional either. It may be easy to tear apart and chew, but the chewing texture is lackluster.

I'd recommend a light tasting cream ale, or a honey blonde ale, to pair up with this jerky.

Rating: Good

Buy this online:
  • Note: The Jerky Guy brand appears to be out of business now.


  1. Hey Steve - does the gummy texture of this and the Black Pepper variety get in the way of enjoying the jerky? "Gummy texture" scares me because texture and chewing the jerky is half the fun, isn't it? I'm definitely considering buying some but this is a serious hang up in my mind - anything else you could say about it?

  2. The texture of this jerky doesn't really get in my way of enjoyment. It's not really that bad, I'm just being as analytical as I can be. I think it's worth trying for the taste, and after that you can decide if it's worth buying more of.

  3. Thanks for the quick response, and for running a fantastic website. You said you bought 3 packages of jerky - does that include the Jalapeno variety also? If so, I think I'll wait for your review before blind ordering a bag (along with the other two varieties - the black pepper sounds great). Thanks again

  4. I bought one bag of each, making three bags. The Jalapeno has a great taste, that review will come out next week. I'd personally get either black pepper or jalapeno or both.