Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Buffalo Guys - Sweet Peppered

The Buffalo Guys jerkyThe Buffalo Guys is a brand of The Buffalo Guys, LLC based out of Elk Mountain, WY. The business has been around since 2000, formed through two independent bison ranchers who decided to join together. The Buffalo Guys own their own bison ranch in Kansas.

The company sells bison steaks, chops, burger, and jerky. Originally they operated under the name Great Plains Bison, LLC, and sold their products under the brand, "Nature's Prairie". But as Americans continue to use the name "buffalo" instead of bison, they opted to change to "The Buffalo Guys".

Their jerky is actually manufactured by Zick's Specialty Meats, of Berrien Springs, MI. Zick's has its own brand of jerky called "Buffalo Bob's", which also sells buffalo jerky. According to a phone call I had with The Buffalo Guys, they sell their own bison meat to Zick's, who in turn makes jerky using The Buffalo Guys recipe, and then sells it back to The Buffalo Guys.


Buffalo (American Bison), papaya, salt, sugar, spices, onion powder, garlic powder.


The first thing I taste from the surface of these pieces is a smoky flavor, followed by a light sweetness. There's also a light oily flavor. Overall, a light flavor intensity off the surface.

The chewing flavor starts with a light natural meat flavor. There's also moderate amount of saltiness. Several seconds in, I can pick up a light black pepper flavor.

For being dubbed a "Sweet Peppered" variety, it doesn't seem to hold up well to that claim. I don't really get the impression that this is a sweet jerky. I do pick up a light sweetness in the first few seconds of putting a piece into my mouth, but that's about all I can detect. As for the peppered part, there's a light black pepper flavor on an individual piece basis, but builds up a noticeable aftertaste over several pieces.

Since this jerky is not necessarily labeled black pepper, it could be any kind of pepper. And in fact, I do see a few chile pepper seeds here and there, and when my teeth bite into one, it releases a moderate burn, enough to where I could rate it as "medium" on my hot scale. If I don't bite into a seed, this jerky is totally mild.

The natural meat flavors are very light. There's not really enough there to enjoy, but just enough to let you know are in fact eating meat. These pieces have some oil on the surface, which adds a bit of flavor, and mixes into that meat flavor.

The level of saltiness seems moderate.

The garlic powder is very light, and only seems to register a light aftertaste.

I found one piece with a strange flavor, almost like a soapy flavor, or chemical-like flavor. I threw it out.

Overall, the primary flavor you're going taste in this is a peppery aftertaste, but it won't be something you'll taste on a single piece, but after eating several pieces. Otherwise, you'll notice a smokiness off the surface, and slight sweet, and then a weak meat flavor in the chewing.

Meat Consistency

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

This is a dry jerky, with a fair amount of oil on the surface, which makes the jerky appear moist. It's a mixed bag of tough chewy pieces, to soft pieces, to hard brittle pieces.

The chewing texture starts out feeling stiff, with a bit of rubbery chewing resistance. Most pieces require quite a bit of sucking and biting before they start to break down. Once I get it down to a soft mass, it seems to have a steak-like chewing texture, with still a faint bit of rubbery chew, but yet still fibrous, maybe comparable to a steak cooked medium. The thicker pieces, however, feel rather crumbly.

This jerky seems very lean, I found only one piece with just a small bit of fat. No tendon, no gristle, and no stringy sinews.

The oil on the surface of these pieces tends to leave some residue on my fingers, but I didn't find any meat fragments flying off to my lap or desk.

Snack Value

I purchased this Sweet Peppered jerky through a sampler package off of The Buffalo Guys website. I got two 3oz packages of this Sweet Peppered, along with two 2.2oz packages of their Mild, for $29.99. Shipping was free. That works out to a per ounce price of $2.88.

For general jerky snacking purposes, at the $2.88 price per ounce, it's a poor value. I get an average amout of snackability, due to what I think is a satisfactory flavor, and mixed bag of easy and tough chewing. The $2.88 price per ounce is a lot higher than the mass-market brands at the grocery store, but I don't see this jerky having any better snackability.

As a Sweet Peppered Buffalo Jerky, at the same $2.88 price per ounce, it's a slightly better value, but at "weak". That's because I do get a fair amount of peppery flavor, more for the black pepper aftertaste, and a little bit of chile pepper seasoning. I don't really get much bison meat flavor, which is what I would expect to get when paying a premium for bison meat. I don't get anymore meat flavor out of this than a bag of Oberto.


I'm giving this an average rating.

This Sweet Peppered bison jerky from The Buffalo Guys seems to sit right in the ballpark with the mass-market brands in terms of flavor and meat consistency. On an individual piece basis, this jerky is light on flavor, but over several pieces, the saltiness and black pepper seems to build themselves up enough to where I get moderate flavor intensity.

I don't really see this jerky as living up to its "Sweet Peppered" claim. It's not really sweet at all. The black pepper flavor is very light on an individual piece, and is only noticed after eating several pieces.

As a bison jerky, particularly one where I paid $2.88 per ounce, which is quite higher than most jerky in general, I just didn't get much bison meat flavor. All I could taste were the seasonings. In that sense, I may have well as just bought beef jerky.

I wouldn't mind so much the tough meat consistency in several of these pieces, provided it came with a good deal of surface flavor so that I could suck on them for awhile and soften them up. But this doesn't offer much surface flavor, and instead encourages me to chew right away.

For my recommended beer pairing, I'd go with a red ale.

Rating: Average

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