Sunday, February 8, 2009

Butler's Smokehouse Beef Jerky - Original

Butler's Smokehouse Beef Jerky - OriginalButler's Smokehouse is a small, family run smokehouse in Stephenville, TX that makes smoked hams, turkeys, cheeses, and beef jerky. It's owned by Micah and Lacy Butler, who started the business back in 1999.

All of their jerky is made at their own USDA inspected facility, using USA-raised cattle. In addition to this original variety, they also offer a Peppered, Habanero, and "Dr. Pepper" varieties.

Butler's Smokehouse has a world-wide contract to supply jerky to Operation Beef-Up Our Troops, a program ran by the USO to provide jerky to American soldiers.


Beef, worcestershire sauce, water, salt, black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, sodium nitrite.


What I pick up from the surface of these pieces is a bit of saltiness, some smokiness, some black pepper, and a bit of garlic/onion flavor. In the chewing, what I taste is a natural meat flavor, more of the black pepper, and a bit more saltiness.

Over several pieces, I'm getting a stronger black pepper aftertaste, and a stronger garlic aftertaste.

I'd say the flavor that dominates this jerky all throughout the chewing is the natural meat flavors. But it's not a strong flavor. It gives off a light taste, similar to a well-done cooked porterhouse. It's more noticeable if you suck on a piece for about 10 seconds first, chew lightly and suck out the juices here and there. If you were to chew this jerky immediately after putting it into your mouth, you're not going to taste as much.

The saltiness is perhaps the second-most dominant flavor, being noticeable on the surface, and continuing on throughout the chewing. It doesn't leave any kind of salt-scorching, it only makes itself known inside the meat flavors.

The third-most dominant flavor I'd peg is a combination of the black pepper and garlic. I'm mostly tasting them in the back of my mouth, and as an aftertaste.

While Butler's Smokehouse says they slow-smoke this jerky, I don't necessarily pick up much smoky flavor. I do pick up small amounts from the surface, but it's not strong.

Meat Consistency

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

This is mostly a dry jerky, but with some noticeable moisture. It's very flexible. It requires some effort to tear apart with my fingers, it's mostly easier to clamp down with your teeth, and rip apart. The chewing also requires some effort in the first several chews and eventually softens up.

The chewing texture has a fibrous, meaty quality, that feels like chewing a steak. It doesn't seem to crumble, it doesn't have any mushiness to it. It does however have a rubbery texture in the first several chews, but it eventually breaks down and becomes quite steak-like, probably more like a medium or medium-well cooked steak.

I'm also finding some chewy tissues inside several pieces, some of which are considerable in size. It's not gristle, but it could be pieces of tendon, or membranous tissue that separates the grains of meat. I also find small streaks of fat on some pieces, and I do get a slightly turned taste from them.

My fingers pick up slight amounts of oil handling these pieces, but nothing requiring a finger licking. But otherwise, I'm not getting any tiny fragments falling on to my lap or desk.

Snack Value

Butler's Smokehouse sells this original variety at a price of $8.00 for a 4 ounce package. I bought four packages, one each of their varieties for a total of $32.00. They tacked on a shipping fee of $8.56, for grand total of $40.56. All in all, it works out to a per ounce price of $2.54, putting this into the expensive price range.

Interestingly, if you order their "Beef Jerky Sampler", which is basically the same thing I purchased, except in a packaged form, it'll cost you $40.00 plus shipping. I instead bought each variety individually, and it cost me $32.00 plus shipping. Go figure.

For general jerky snacking purposes, at the $2.54 per ounce price, it presents a fair value. I'm getting a great deal of snackability from its light natural meat flavors, and decent flavor intensity, and good chewing texture. But on top of that, it has enough surface flavors that it let's me suck on a piece first, and then get some better meat flavors in the chewing. This allows the jerky to last longer than if you were to chew right away.

It's just that the high price leaves me wondering if this is something I can afford to buy over and over.


I'm giving this a good rating.

This original variety from Butler's Smokehouse provides a good tasting natural meat flavor, albeit in light amounts, but still noticeable throughout the chew. It then colors that flavor with some saltiness, black pepper, and garlic. It'll also give you a steak-like chewing texture, but perhaps little rubbery in the first few chews.

What keeps me from assigning this a "best" rating is that the natural meat flavors are not strong enough to "wow" my senses. Or either that, the seasonings are too strong that it masks over the meat flavors. But I tend to think it's the former.

Admittedly, I had this vision of getting strongly smoked jerky, simply due to the brand name of "Butler's Smokehouse". But while there is some smokiness detected on the surface of this jerky, I'm not getting much.

But overall it's good jerky, clearly above the mass-market stuff in both taste and texture.

For my beer recommendation, I'd try something fruity, like a cherry or raspberry lambic.

Rating: Good

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