The Only thing better than enjoying some Hi Bräu Beef, is enjoying it with friends. We've posted on how to hold a beef tasting before, but here's what we did for this one.
First, we gathered about ten people. It's usually not hard to find volunteers when you tell them steak is on the menu. We then ordered beef from some of the big names in online beef orders. After all, we wanted to put our beef against the best. We also picked up the best meat we could find at the local grocery store and even found some cuts in the freezer that we grew ourselves while we were learning and researching our growing methods. On the day of the tasting, we gathered everything we needed. Kosher salt, flake salt, coarse ground pepper, a large cutting board and knife, six tags to label the beef, tasting sheets, and the necessary beverages (read: bourbon). We selected six T-Bones, six Filets, and six packages of ground beef.
We fully thawed and seasoned everything the exact same way, which is with kosher salt and pepper on both sides. We also cooked everything the same, only adjusting the time to account for different thicknesses in the meat. The grocery store steaks were a mere 1/2" thick, while the Hi Bräu steaks were 1.5" thick. Still, we aimed for a medium to medium rare center with a good sear on the outside.
Every. Single. Piece. Of beef was devoured and a good time was had by all. After each cut, we sat and discussed our tasting sheets to see what each person thought about each cut. While there was very little consensus, some patterns did emerge. More on that later. The biggest lesson we learned? Though people tend to gravitate towards certain tastes and flavors, each person has their own preferences. We often had one person that thought Steak A was awful, and another person that thought Steak A was the best of the bunch. This was a big validation for us here at Hi Bräu. We want to create the best beef available, but we also know that the best steak to one person is not the best to the other. It's why we create different varieties and continuously experiment. It's why we offer multiple kinds of beef, all grown on the same farm. It's why we have our tried and true "On Tap" varieties, but we always try to keep a "Special Release" coming down the line.
We know that, just like beer or cheese or bourbon or oysters, everybody has different preferences, and we can grow different beef to fit those preferences. We just have to communicate that to a world that's been conditioned to think that beef is beef. We have to help lead the craft beef movement. Ok, so I'm sure you want to know the results. Here's the best we can summarize the opinions of a bunch of people with different palates.
We're happy to say that Hi Bräu did great.
For the T-Bones: Hi Bräu Beef's T-Bone dwarfed every other T-Bone in size. We used one of our Special Release, 40 Month Live Aged Grass Finished Angus varieties. It scored at the top of the test and may have been the only true winner of the entire tasting.
For the Filet: For this selection, we used a Hi Bräu Grass Finished Angus Steak. I'd have to call it a tie with a small family farm out of North Carolina. They grain finish their beef and it was very good. Credit where it's due, this one was a close call. For the Ground Beef: Hi Bräu Beef went with a South Poll Grass Finished ground, which is about 85/15 lean to fat. We made patties out of all of them. Much to my surprise, the grocery store Ground Beef scored well in this test. Hi Bräu was also at the top, again making this a tie. There was also a very close second from the same farm out of North Carolina.
The big surprise of the whole test was that the beef from a farm in the Northern US that's been selling beef on the internet for years didn't fare too well. Now we won't say who it was, but we were very surprised that a farm with that kind of history had such a poor showing.
The best part of the whole evening? Easy. Sharing good beef, good bourbon, and good stories with good friends. We hope that you'll try your own beef tasting, if for no other reason than the fun and fellowship it provides. If you'd like to host a beef tasting of your own, learn more about how to do so in our last blog: How to Host a Beef Tasting with HB Beef.
To shop our selection for a tasting of your own, check out our beef at hibraubeef.com/shop.