Beer Snacks: Kalahari Biltong

Kalahari Biltong

Kalahari Biltong is an honest, simple product that shows, like well executed beer, what great ingredients, good processes and an attention to detail can produce. It pairs with just about any beer style and friends. We enjoyed it with blonde and amber lagers, especially a well-brewed Pilsner.

The craft beer movement was started almost 4 decades ago by people who had experienced good beer abroad and came home to find nothing commercially available of the quality that they had experienced. Kalahari Biltong shares a similar story. Three friends traveled to South Africa to compete in an Ironman and an Ultra Marathon. Somewhere along the way, a South African teammate introduced them to his homeland’s “unofficial national treasure”, Biltong. Then, low and behold, they return to the US only to find dried beef of a certain quality and flavor they found lacking.

The best place to start with dried beef is the right cut of beef. These folks are going the extra mile to find the best farms in the market to source their selected cuts, which they then hand slice in preparation for their unique process. The strips of beef are introduced to a marinade of vinegar, pepper, coriander, chili and salt. Just like the perfect rub in great barbecue, this well edited list of ingredients lets each flavor shine alongside the meat. The vinegar, especially, is an interesting addition that we very much enjoyed.

These flavor-packed cuts of perfectly selected beef are then hung and air-dried, like some of our favorite charcuterie, for 18 days. Not heating during the drying process with smoke, or anything else, allows all of the flavors already present in the beef, and the marinade, to shine.

The final step in the process, before packaging, is to cut the larger slices, against the grain, into bite size strips perfect for snacking on alongside your favorite beer.

The result is nothing like anything we’ve had before. Wafer-thin slices of beef, some still pink/red in the center, giving an almost steak-like appearance, packed with an upfront “beefy” flavor, accented deliciously by vinegar and chili pepper spice in the Original recipe. We tried all 3 (Original/Garlic/Spicy Peri Peri) alongside several beer styles and enjoyed them all! The dried beef at the core of all three begs for beer, especially some malt flavors. These snacks played particularly well with most lean, crisp blonde/amber lagers. A touch of hop flavor/aroma and bitterness complements the seasonings, which explains our love of Biltong and a good pilsner.