I can’t tell you how excited I was when Mountain America Jerky asked if I’d like to try their products. Not because they sent me samples for free and I thus feel obligated to say that (I think the record will show I hold no such obligations), but because I looked at their product list and went holy shit.
Sorry, Mountain America. I cussed in the first paragraph of your review.
But seriously, look at these flavors. Alligator?! Kangaroo?! I’d have to travel across the country for the former and to another continent for the latter just to see these animals! And now I get to eat them! (Well, I guess I could just go to a zoo, but that’s not the same. And I’m pretty sure they don’t let you eat the animals.)
I want to get right to it, since there’s so much to cover.
I have to start with Mountain America’s Beef Jerky, of course, because it will be the baseline for all other flavors. It’s the only type of jerky here that I’ve ever had before, so I can at least compare it to other brands.
Mountain America’s is on the dry side of the jerky spectrum. It’s a little tough, but not gum-stabbingly tough like some other brands out there, and has a nice chew to it. It also has a great peppery spice that’s not too overwhelming.
I’ve had a lot of jerky in my time, including some straight from the butcher around the corner from my parents’ house, and Mountain America’s is closer to that in taste and texture than most of the mass-marketed brands out there. It didn’t completely blow me away, but it’s a good, solid jerky.
Sweet and Spicy Beef
[I swore I took a picture of this, but I couldn’t find it when I was assembling this review. And by then, it was all gone. Which says something in and of itself. Just imagine it looks a lot like the beef.]
Mountain America also included their Sweet and Spicy version in my sample pack, which I didn’t think I would like as much, since I prefer pepper seasoning over sweet and spicy. However, I found that I liked this one just as much as the original, mostly because it was very, very light on the sweet and heavy on the spicy. This jerky has a serious kick to it.
Now, on to some much less familiar territory.
I know boar mostly for looking like tough-ass pigs with giant tusks that just so happen to have adorable babies. So this will be my first time eating boar. Wild boar is pretty exotic, but its close relative, the pig, obviously isn’t. So I started wondering why I haven’t seen pig jerky on store shelves, until I realized I had – it’s just called bacon jerky, because bacon bacon bacon blah blah blah.
Knowing that I was going into my boar experience basically eating pig, I wasn’t all that intimidated. This jerky was greasier than the beef; it was chewier, but also more moist. Mountain America describes it as “nutty”, but I didn’t get any of that flavor. They did spice it nicely, however, and there was just a hint of sweetness to the meat.
I actually liked Wild Boar Jerky better than Mountain America’s Beef Jerky, both in taste and texture. Perhaps it’s the baconesque quality that the jerky possessed – bitch and moan about bacon memes all you want, it’s still delicious. I could eat boar all day long, while looking at pictures of their cute babies.
Alligator Jerky was the animal that left me with the biggest feeling of trepidation. It’s not that I’m unaware that people eat alligators, it’s just that that doesn’t mean they’re good.
It was really the color that got me. Most of the jerkies were different shades of “beef”, but alligator had a distinctly pink-ish tone to it that I found unsettling. Plus, it seemed like alligator would have a distinctly gamey taste. Come to think of it, I’m not even sure what makes things taste “gamey”, but I figured “kills its prey, including humans, using a ‘death roll’” made it qualify.
Fortunately for me, I was either wrong, or Mountain America really knows how to jerky their gator. I have a feeling it might have been the latter, because alligator jerky honestly didn’t taste like anything but yummy jerky spices. It was very heavily spiced and peppered, leaving me unable to taste the meat.
As for the texture, it was much chewier than the beef jerky and slightly more moist, but didn’t have an oily feel to it that I suspected it might. I thought I tasted a slight gaminess upon exhalation after chewing, but that could have just been my brain thinking it should have been there. Really, it just tasted like pepper and spices.
Venison is the food word for deer, in case you weren’t aware. People eat deer all the time, so I wasn’t at all intimidated by this jerky. I mean, there’s a bunch of shitty video games called “Deer Hunter” and hordes of men inexplicably wearing camouflage and bright orange vests at the same time routinely shoot them every year.
Plus, deer are totally dicks. Ask anyone that lives in the countryside. Or listen to Louis CK talk about what dicks they are, he’s way funnier than I am.
After finding out alligator jerky isn’t so bad, I was straight-up looking forward to venison jerky. I found myself disappointed. It was very tough and very dry, the kind of jerky I described earlier that stabs your gums like a meaty, pointy knife.
Also, for some reason, Mountain America chose this flavor to absolutely coat with pepper. It didn’t say it on the label of my package, but I noticed on their website it’s described as “covered with coarse, cracked black pepper for the optimal medium spice.” I would instead describe it as “way too peppery; what are they hiding?” It was a disappointment because I’m well familiar with what peppered jerky tastes like, but I didn’t really get to taste what venison jerky tastes like.
I feel like kangaroo jerky is the most exotic and the most controversial jerky of the bunch. Maybe I’m wrong on that last part; maybe nobody gives a shit that I’m consuming the flesh of a bouncy, cute Australian marsupial that has babies called joeys that hang out in their pouches.
Gosh, even I feel a little bad after writing that last sentence. However, some do consider it environmentally beneficial to hunt kangaroo to prevent overgrazing. Oh, and like deer, they will totally run (well, hop) out in the road and completely fuck up your car and possibly your body.
That said, the kangaroo jerky was both the softest and the chewiest of the bunch, which was a nice contrast to the tough dryness of the venison. It also seemed to be the least heavily spiced of all the jerkies. I didn’t feel like the meat was being overwhelmed by seasoning.
Mountain America agrees, saying on their website, “This Kangaroo Jerky is flavored with a simple black pepper marinade for a mild, non-gamey taste.”
And here’s where I disagree, saying, “Sorry son, but this jerky be gamey.”
I lamented the amount of seasoning on previous jerky flavors covering up the taste of the meat, so I was glad I could taste the true ‘roo here, even if it turned out to be gamey. Having never tasted kangaroo before, it’s hard to say exactly what it tastes like; it’s not like beef, it’s not like chicken (since apparently every meat that’s not beef or pork supposedly tastes like chicken), it’s just what it is. High marks for texture, but it was my least favorite in terms of flavor.
So there you have it. Many words about many flavors of jerky. I’ve decided not to number-score them, but will instead give a quick summary: Mountain America’s Beef is a solid gourmet jerky; Sweet and Spicy Beef has an excellent kick; Wild Boar was my favorite, with a lovely texture and baconesque flavor; Alligator scared me, but it wound up just tasting like yummy jerky seasoning; Venison was disappointing because it was stabby and too heavily peppered, not allowing the meat to come through; Kangaroo was lightly spiced, allowing me to experience the meat, which was quite gamey, but it was interesting to try.
What a fun trip through the world of jerky! I mean, how many people can say they’ve eaten kangaroo! Oh, probably a lot of Australians. But still, I feel so cultured now. And have a craving for moar boar.
[Disclaimer: I received these products for free from Mountain America Jerky, but that in no way colors the objectivity of my review, and proves beyond a doubt that I am not a vegetarian.]
Mountain America Jerky: Beef, Sweet and Spicy Beef, Wild Boar, Alligator, Venison, Kangaroo
- Price: Free
- Size: Various
- Purchased at: Sent to me; available at https://mountainamericajerky.com/
- Nutritional Quirk: These are actually quite good for you in terms of protein and stuff, but really, the highlight here is that I ate alligator and kangaroo!