As I thought about a title for this post, I remembered the Duke’s Small Batch Smoked Meats ad that I saw in Draft magazine; the one that turned me onto this insanely tasty jerky I’m going to tell you all about. The ad’s headline read, “Craft Beer, Meet Craft Jerky.” Working in marketing myself, I know how long it can take to craft that perfect headline, and I’m sure the people at Duke’s spent a lot of time on this one, so I think it’s the perfect title.
My boss is actually the one who saw their ad originally. KegWorks had one out in that same issue, and they were a few pages apart. He brought it to me, and said, “This could be a good article.” He paused. “Oh, and ask for some samples,” he said with a smile.
So I zipped an email over to Duke’s, and they got back to me the next day, saying how happy they were to hear from me and that they’d be happy to send some samples. The woman I talked with was pretty much the bomb. She told me she could fit four bags in a package, and asked if I had any flavor preferences. The jerky came a week later. It was a glorious day.
The four flavors I requested were the Honey Bourbon Beef Jerky, Bourbon Glaze Steak Strips, Bar-B-Q Beef Brisket Strips, and the Roasted Cayenne Beef Jerky. Is your mouth watering yet? It should be.
The box that the jerky came in read, “There are no shortcuts to quality,” and while I haven’t seen the jerky-making process up close and personal, I have tried those four flavors, and each one was simply delectable.
My favorite was the Bar-B-Q Beef Brisket Strips. They had a wonderful smoke to them which, as the Duke’s website states, leaves you thinking you’re at a barbecue shack in West Texas. I also really enjoyed both of the bourbon flavors, especially the Honey Bourbon. And in Buffalo, we put Frank’s Red Hot on just about everything, so the Roasted Cayenne Beef Jerky with the Frank’s sat quite well with me too.
I think their philosophy speaks to the quality as well. When I spoke with Neal Stewart, Duke’s Brand Marketing Director, I asked him how they intend to keep their artisanal spirit as they grow. He told me that no matter how big they get, the product will always be their number one priority: “We only use all-natural ingredients that you can find in your very own kitchen at home. If we’re not comfortable eating it, we’re not going to make it,” he said.
So by now, you’re probably thinking, where can I get this stuff? Well, you can use their store locator to see if there’s a place near you, or you can purchase online. They even offer free shipping on orders over $25 – and trust me, that will be easy to spend. If you’d like to see Duke’s in a store near you, Stewart says just let them know. For now, they’re main goal is getting their product out there.
If you’ve found some of their jerky, or you’re ordering online, I’d suggest you enjoy it with a beer. I think the guys at Duke’s would suggest that as well. Check out their beer and jerky pairing chart for style suggestions.
Special thanks to everyone at Duke’s for helping me with this article. I’m hooked for life, and I’m hoping in the future we’ll have a chance to meat up.