There are only a few things in this world that I love more than beef jerky. The salty taste of dehydrated beef makes my primal urges simmer to the surface. I've tried it all over this great country, from farm stands to convenience store jars in Florida, (Florida, you say?) to Nodine's Smokehouse, I've eaten it.

So, trust me when I say that I've recently been eating the hell out of some of the best beef jerky that I've ever had. It all started at Four Corners Grocery Store in Middlebury.

That's where I turned the corner and ran face-first into this display:

Photo by Large "Bow to the Master" Dave

I cannot walk past local beef jerky, ever, so I picked up the blue bag of Hickory, and I drove home. Let me tell you something, I housed that bag in 5 minutes, got back into my Subaru, went back to the 4 Corners, and dropped it down on 2 more bags, it's that good.

I'm no amateur jerky boy, I personally have made pounds of the stuff over the years. Here's a photo of me and one of my oldest friends Paul Daddario wheeling my new dehydrator out of Cabela's a couple of years ago

Photo of Large Dave and Atty Paul Daddario by K. Szarlan

Since then, I've cleaned out the 4 Corners stock of Hickory and Teriyaki a couple of times. I took it upon myself to write a fan e-mail to the wonderful team behind this incredible product, and I got an e-mail back from the Grand Poobah himself, the owner and founder of West's Side Jerky, 19 year old Middlebury resident, Westwood Sutherland!

It seems as if I'm a bit late to the party, because Westwood has been ruling the beef jerky landscape for a few years. Here's Westwood explaining to me how he got started and got to where he is today:

The first places that really allowed me to start my business were the local breweries. The Black Hog in Oxford was the first place to let me set up my jerky booth and they have been supporting me ever since.  Others soon followed: Brassworks in Waterbury, Firefly Hollow in Bristol, New England Brewing in Woodbridge, and Badsons in Derby along with a number of others. The city of Bristol invited me to their farmers market 2 years ago (after seeing my booth at Firefly Hollow) and that was also a big boost. Its been great to have so many good people supporting my business all along the way, I really cant thank them enough.
I told Westwood that I was unable to stop giving him my money, and that his subtle use of flavor and cut of flank steak truly set him apart from the mass market jerky. He graciously responded with:
I was always only focused on making great jerky, but after a while people pointed out to me that my jerky had about 1/10th the sugar and 1/5th the sodium of most jerky. Mine has also always been gluten free. None of this was really intentional, but it turns out if you don't throw in a lot of garbage, you can get a great product that also happens to be pretty healthy.

You can order Westwood's wonderful products online by clicking HERE, they currently offer 4 varieties : Original Beef-Hot & Spicy, Hickory Beef, Teriyaki Beef, and Pork Tenderloin Jerky. There are also quite a few physical locations where you can get it also:

Connecticut:

Bristol- Cafe Real: 156 School St, Bristol, CT
Bristol- Firefly Hollow Brewing: 139 Center St, Bristol, CT
Hamden- No Worries Brewing Company: 2520 State St, Hamden, CT
Middlebury- Four Corners Grocery Store: 600 Middlebury Rd, Middlebury, CT
Middlebury- Thrive Sport & Fitness: 950 Southford Rd, Middlebury, CT
Oakville- Lasting Brass Brewing: 1864 Watertown Ave, Oakville, CT
Oxford- Black Hog Brewery: 115 Hurley Road, Bulding 9a, Oxford, CT
Naugatuck- Ed’s Hardware: 560 Rubber Ave, Naugatuck, CT
New Hartford- Gresczyk Farms: 860 Litchfield Turnpike, New Hartford, CT
Southbury- Chatfield True Value Hardware: 190 Main St S, Southbury, CT
Southbury- Citgo/Main St Deli: 56 Main St S, Southbury, CT
Southbury: Nardellis Grinder Shoppe: 385 Main St S, Southbury, CT
Southbury- Patty's Pantry Deli: 1224 Strongtown Rd, Southbury, CT
Southbury- Strongtown Crossfit: 1432 Old Waterbury Rd, Southbury, CT
Waterbury- Brass Works Brewing Company: 2066 Thomaston Ave, Waterbury, CT
Waterbury- Continuum Distilling: 2066 Thomaston Ave, Waterbury, CT
Wallingford- New England Cider Co: 110 N Plains Industrial Rd A, Wallingford, CT
Woodbridge- New England Brewing: 175 Amity Rd, Woodbridge, CT
Woodstock- Taylor Brooke Brewery: 818 CT-171, Woodstock, CT

California:

Gonzales- Gonzales Shell: 27719 N Alta Street, Gonzales, CA
Greenfield- Greenfield Shell: 899 El Camino Real, Greenfield, CA
King City- King City Shell: 601 Canal Street, King City, CA
Monterey- Alliance Mart: 2109 N Fremont Street, Monterey, CA
Pacific Grove- Forest Hill Shell: 1201 Forest Ave, Pacific Grove, CA

I want to reiterate the quality of this product. Mass-Marketed beef jerky, like Jack Links, Slim Jim, and <shudder> Oberto, taste like processed waxy meat sticks compared to the perfect flank steak cuts served up by the maestro.

Westwood is currently attending College out in Boulder, Colorado at the CU Boulder School of Engineering. As a special treat for you jerky lovers out there like me, Westwood asked me to share a special code - "NOTVEGAN" which is good for 10% online orders until May 2020. Click HERE to support this local genius.