Yack! It’s pretty much beyond horrible!
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I approached the topic of this article with my former office nemesis, Krista Kane, in mind. Krista doesn’t eat red meat, and I think she got a kick out of having me grill up burger substitutes at work cook-outs. Early on in the grilling hobby, for me cooking a turkey or vegetarian burger on a grill was a bit sacrilegious. And Krista would always have some sort of non-real burger for me to cook up for her. Krista recently moved to an area without fast-food restaurants, and had to wait until she had to evacuate for Hurricane Dorian before she could finally try the Impossible Whopper from Burger King. Krista, thank you for tolerating me at work, even though you teamed up against me with my wife at times. This taste test was for you!
My beautiful wife, Stacey, got me on this interest in meat substitute products. It started with her talking about wanting to try the Impossible Whooper, which I eventually wrote about after trying it when it went national. But first, I tried an Impossible Burger at a local chain; Moxi Burger. I was shocked by how good the Impossible Burger tasted and the inner food geek came out of me when I learned how the burger was developed.
I had also heard of Beyond Meat’s various products, the first being Del Taco’s Beyond Taco made with Beyond Meat. Soon after trying the Impossible Burger at Moxi Burger, I discovered that our local Kroger grocery store carries frozen The Beyond Burger by Beyond Meats. Well, it was time to try it out to see if it was as good as the Impossible Burger, and as good as REAL ground beef.
The first thing I learned about the Beyond Burger is that it’s expensive! Two, small little 1/4 lb. patties were $5.99! But, that inner food geek wanted to try them, and they did actually look like hamburger patties in the packaging.
Speaking of the packaging, for those that find this important, it is made of 100% recycled materials. It also describes the product with a bunch of little icons as being kosher, certified vegan, soy free, and gluten free. The ingredients list reads like a list of items from the aisles of Whole Foods Market.
But it was soon time to see where the rubber meets the road. Or rather, where the meat meets the grill! The packaging recommends thawing the patties in the refrigerator before you grill them, but I had read online that they can be cooked frozen, only requiring a little more time. I preheated my gas grill to 400°, and opened up the packaging. Not so good. The odor of plant-based Beyond Burger wasn’t that awesome. To me it smelled faintly of cat food. That’s not appetizing at all! I then tossed a frozen Beyond Meat patty on the grill in anticipation of eating a cheese burger for lunch. A few twists of Himalayan rock salt and fresh ground pepper later, I closed the grill and waited for the smells to change. I was a little surprised by the lack of sizzling noise and smoke coming from my grill. Hmmmmm.
After roughly three and a half minutes, it was time to flip this thing and see what kind of grill marks were left on it. I was surprised by how much the grill marks actually stood out once flipped. The “meat” doesn’t caramelize as darkly as real ground beef on the grill; coming out only to an orangish, tan color with well defined grill marks. And, unfortunately, the smell didn’t improve either!
After another three and a half minutes, I threw a slice of Kraft American Cheese on the Beyond Burger to quickly melt, and then dropped the Beyond Burger on a Publix bakery pretzel bun.
Let me go off on a tangent here. If you are fortunate enough to live in an area with a Publix grocery store, and you haven’t done so, try out the Publix Bakery! Stacey and I only really purchase two items from Publix; Publix brand Restaurant Style frozen French fries (soooooooo damn good in the air fryer!) and bread from the Publix Bakery. Publix Bakery bread; best grocery store bread ever!
But back to the Beyond Burger. All plated up with ketchup, mustard, and mayo; and ready to eat on this awesome Publix pretzel bun, I noticed it still smelled like cat food! That was not cool at all! But maybe it would taste better than it smelled. I sliced the cheese burger in half to see what it looked like down the middle. The interior of the burger patty was a reddish/pink color that looked like a perfectly cooked burger. That wasn’t so bad.
I carried my cheese burger downstairs to share with my wife, and get her opinion on it. The first thing Stacey said was, “It smells like cat food!” I actually felt some feeling of vindication, knowing it wasn’t just me getting put out by the odor. Stacey and I each took a bite, and felt relieved it didn’t taste like cat food.
Flavor wise, it was a little on the bland side. This is probably a good thing because what flavor that did come across wasn’t that great. It wasn’t horrible by any means. I didn’t feel like I was going to spit out my burger and throw the rest in the garbage, or feed it to the dogs. But it wasn’t beefy and rich in flavor like a real burger, or even the Impossible Burger. The more I ate it though, the more I found I disliked the flavor.
Texture wise, I feel like Beyond Meats got very close with the Beyond Burger. It is a touch on the dry side, and each bite felt a little dense, but over all it had a mouthfeel very close to that of real ground beef. Here too, however, the Impossible Burger seems to do a better job in the texture department, being practically indistinguishable from real beef.
A couple of minutes after finishing eating the Beyond Burger, I found the after taste to be pretty damn bad. Drinking water wasn’t doing enough to rid my mouth of the after taste, so Stacey cut me a slice of apple pie; that seemed to handle that problem. But then a short time later, I had a couple of Beyond Burger burps, that were just as unpleasant as the cat food odor of the patties and the after taste. It was time to drink some cold beer, which solved the problem with the burp flavors! Yuck!
The take aways:
- Soylent Green is people!
- The Beyond Burger seriously misses the mark in my opinion. Maybe it would taste better to someone who is really a vegan?
- The Beyond Burger really makes the Impossible Burger shine!
- REAL meat is the best!
- Ugh. I need more beer.