My Real (ale) Friend

Product Review: Cleaver and Keg

So, here I am reviewing another meat snack – it’s a hard life being a Food Adventurer!

I now consider myself somewhat of an aficionado when it comes to meat snacking having reviewed a number of different biltongs and jerkies and understood the subtle nuances of the process that have a huge impact on the flavour delivery. The meat snacks market has now left the likes of Pepparami in its dust and matured to cater for a more sophisticated and premium palate.

I have previously referenced how far behind the UK market is in comparison to our European counterparts but we’re catching up and (thankfully) we’re going our own way. Europe’s meat lust sways towards high salt and pork products which hasn’t translated well in the UK other than in specialist outlets. The UK foodie seems to have picked up South African and American meat snacking habits and run with them with sales on jerky alone growing by 52.9% YOY according to The Grocer magazine. As with all booming trends diversification is high which has lead to the development of meat snacking products using meat other than beef.

So what’s driving the trend? Well it seems as though it’s the fitness movement. Meat snacks have a fantastic protein to fat ratio and also easily lend themselves to countless free-froms making meat snacks a very permissible treat. For the same reason the category, quite uniquely, transcends any gender preference with a good proportion of females also buying into the new trend.

This perfect storm of health and flavour has spiked interest amongst the hipster communities who are searching for something different to accompany their newfound love of hoppy IPAs. So we can see a decline in the urine-clad bowls of peanuts and garish bags of Mr Porky’s replaced in real ale pubs by olive wood platters of well-seasoned meat snacks. Which leads, nicely, into my review…

Rating: 9.5/10

Appeals to: free-from revolutionaries, hipsters, protein-junkies and beer lovers!

Packaging

I’m a big fan of this packaging. It’s bang on trend and is very well positioned to sit beside a bottle of premium, real ale. The wax paper bag and old-world imagery conjures up quality and premium connotations with is complimented well by a characterful narrative on the back of pack. I think this is possibly the best example I’ve seen from a meat snacks company in terms of communicating the brand personality on pack; it’s quirky, it’s personable, it’s friendly, it’s brilliant.

Price

£2.50 (45g bag) – you could argue that this is a little steep but if you compare it to the premium jerky option in a mainstream supermarket which retails for £2 then it’s not so bad. Plus in this category you really do get what you pay for. I’d be questioning any ‘meat’ snack that sold for much less than £1.50.

Delivery

The whole Cleaver and Keg brand ethos is about complimenting drinks, with their tag line being ‘Meaty Morsels for the Modern Drinker’, so, naturally, I had to oblige and enjoy these snacks with a 7.4% dry cider…

Chorizo Cuts

Just wow! These little bites are beautifully chewy, well-seasoned with a creamy opening that gave way to a soft but deep paprika note that lingers on the tongue.

Strips O Beef

I’ll be honest, I went into this bag expecting jerky or biltong – I was wrong to do that! These are beautiful strips of chewy, tender and creamy beef that just melt with each bite.

Hot Strips O Beef

Now, imagine the flavour above but intensified with heat. I can handle my spice well but what started off as a warming hug quickly developed into a slap to the chops as I devoured the bag. I think I’m in love!

Salami Bites

Here is the snack that is most akin to the European trend in terms of flavour profile, however it couldn’t be more detached in delivery. It’s light, salty, herby and not greasy at all. A brilliant snack!

Verdict – in a word, amorous! Cleaver and Keg have produced something different to anything else on the market that I’ve seen and I love it. It is the perfect partner to a pale ale or dry cider and I think I’ve found friends for life. I think you’ve just found yourself a new best customer!

Details: http://www.cleaverandkeg.co.uk/

Northern Munkee.