If you’ve heard of cattle in America, you’ve likely heard of Angus. It’s the most popular, most common, and best-marketed breed in the country. Before we give our tasting notes, a bit of information about the cows themselves.
Angus is well known for several things among cattlemen: its ability to have well-marbled meat, tender beef, docility, the ability to raise a good calf, and consistency. It’s a “do it all” breed, and these attributes have made it very popular amongst both cattlemen and consumers.
At Hi Bräu, one of our goals is to select cattle that thrive in our local environment. We’ve been raising Angus on our family farm for three generations, which has allowed us to select the animals that do best on our farm. Though Angus cattle are originally from Scotland, we’ve selected animals that can handle our Southern heat, grasses, and insects.
They have also been selected and bred to "finish" best on a grain-supplemented diet. The Finishing phase is where the cattle are fattened once they’re fully grown. It’s key to quality beef. Angus has been bred like this because that is the predominant system of production here in America. The vast majority of Angus cattle are born on grass but then put on feed at about nine months of age. At this point, it’s most important for them to put on weight in the finishing phase on grain alone.
Ours are done a little differently. We’ve selected animals that still have all of the traits that Angus cows are known for but with the ability to grow with grass only. When they get to the finishing phase, we simply add a supplement of grain. This accounts for about 20% of their diet, though they have constant access to fresh grass, even during their finishing phase. That’s why we like to call it their “ice cream”, they get the grain as a dessert after their daylong salad buffet. This allows us to have a grass-fed animal that was finished on grain. The grain helps to fully express the genetic potential for marbled, tender, buttery meat that Angus cows are known for, while the grass still contributes a robust taste. Our grain mix is blended locally here in Newberry, SC.
Because this breed has been the backbone of our herd for decades, we have given it the honor of being named one of our two “On Tap” breeds; breeds that we try to have in stock at all times and are the bedrock of our offerings.
So what should you expect when you’re enjoying a freshly grilled steak?
The grasses still give a flavor that you won’t find in the grocery store, but the grain helps to mellow it. This beef is often described as “smoother” with a more “buttery” taste than our grass-finished beef. The grain contributes to a higher level of marbling, surpassed only by our Wagyu and Akaushi breeds. Our Angus steaks usually rank as High Choice, with our 40-month Live Aged Angus often reaching Prime. These cows have been bred to be tender, and this is often our most tender offering.
This is a great all-around choice for beef, or for those who want to get into the craft beef world without a big risk. Though this is the closest thing we have to “grocery store” beef, you can still expect some pretty big differences.