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Ribeye Roundup: Putting HB to the Test

Another trip and another set of steaks. Are you seeing a theme here? Like many, we associate good beef with good friends and good times. 

This was our variation on a beef tasting. If you look back at our previous blogs here and here, you’ll see that we’ve had some pretty big beef tastings. This is a much simpler, but still effective, excuse to eat a lot of steak. 

For this one, we focused on Ribeyes only. Ribeyes are the best test of the quality of a steak. They are so dependable that it’s the cut we use to test the standards of our steers before they are sold to our discerning customers. The fact that they contain three different muscles, each with its own texture, gives some variety and a larger sample size. Further, by being a cut that can be tender or tough, it helps us to make sure that what we’re growing is juicy and tender. Whereas a Filet is just about always tender, and therefore not a good test, the Ribeye could go either way. The Ribeye is also a highly flavored piece, therefore being a good indicator of the flavor in all of the other cuts.

If you’re a loyal follower, you may recall that we sold a 50-month cow at a discount a few months back. The reason was that we tried a Ribeye and it wasn’t up to our usual standards for tenderness. We’ll happily continue to make the sacrifice of eating Ribeyes for our loyal connoisseurs! 

We had three Ribeyes to enjoy amongst four people. One was a Hi Bräu Angus Ribeye that was Grass Fed and Grain Finished. The next was a Ribeye from a respected farm-to-table farm in North Carolina. It was also Angus-based and was Grass Fed and Grain Finished. The last was a steak from our local grocery store. Considering that the majority of the beef herd in America is Angus-based, we can assume that this was also an Angus steak. We assume it was grass fed at one point in its life, but was likely on a 100% grain diet for the last several months. Can you tell which was which?

The largest and widest steak is a Hi Bräu Ribeye. The longest steak is the farm-raised steak from NC. The smallest of the three is the grocery store steak. The NC steak was a 1.5” steak, making it the thickest of the bunch, the HB steak was 1.25”, and the grocery store steak was about 1”. We were a bit surprised to see that the NC steak was nearly devoid of marbling, what would likely be graded as a USDA low Choice or high Select. The grocery store steak looked like a mid Choice, while the HB steak was a high Choice or possibly a low Prime. For reference, Choice is typically what you find in a grocery store and Prime is only served at very high-end (read: expensive) steakhouses. Select usually doesn’t make it to steaks meant for human consumption and is usually used to make Ground Beef.

We cooked all of the steaks on a classic Weber Kettle charcoal grill to about Medium Rare doneness. Ben, our resident Craft Master, was the only one who knew which steak was from which farm.

When it was all said and done, two of the three taste testers chose the HB steak immediately for top marks in flavor and tenderness. The third tester tied the grocery steak and the HB steak for a while, but after a second helping (and before the big reveal), they changed their vote to HB being the best overall and equal marks for tenderness. The NC steak ranked last for each tester. Ben chose the HB steak, but his vote doesn’t count!

We don’t expect to “win” every steak tasting. After all, preferences vary from person to person. When we do, however, it’s certainly a reward for the years of study and effort we’ve put into raising and selecting each steer that makes it into the Hi Bräu program. After all, there are many cows that we grow that we decide are not up to our standards. 

We hope you’ll decide to try your own steak tasting and see how Hi Bräu stacks up!

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