3 Reasons Angus Beef is the Best
Most people who buy beef at the grocery store, prefer Angus meat.
Is Angus beef better, or is that just some idea we’ve inherited from marketing agencies, but that has very little to do with the actual quality of Angus?
What is Angus meat anyway?
Let us give you an overview of the top 3 reasons why we think Angus beef vs. beef in general is a cut above. We’ll explain how the history, standards, and taste contributing factors of Angus beef make it the best beef to buy. See if you agree with us!
How History Impacted Angus Beef Quality
Early Aberdeen Angus bulls and breeding stock set the stage for the genetics that gives Angus meat the quality we know of today. They gave Angus a strong foundation for flavorful, tender meat.
One such founding father of the Angus cattle breed was the sire named Old Jock 1. It was 1847 at the Irish Show in Londonderry, Ireland, and Old Jock had just received his second, first place award. He was impressive! One commentator observed that Old Jock “was particularly reported by the judges as an extraordinary animal, and unrivalled for strength, symmetry, and quality." His legacy of excellence, along with other great Angus sires of his time, set the stage for great beef results we attribute to the Angus cattle breed today.
Part of the reason the greats were so great is because of the selections of early Angus cattle breeders. Angus breeders of the 16th and 17th centuries paid less attention to breeding within the Angus cattle breed itself and were more interested in adding quality sires and heifers to their breeding programs.
Was it an animal with good confirmation and high performance? Buy it!
At that time in Angus history, quality breeding stock was chosen over staying strictly within the purebred Angus breed.
Interestingly, Angus interbreeding was commonplace until around 100 years ago.
At first glance, you might be thinking, How could Angus cattle produce any good meat, if they're so inbred? But at second glance, we find that this standard of quality over breed consciousness built up the Angus cattle breed and gave it the best genetics possible for producing meat quality we’re all interested in. In the origins of Angus cattle, quality from other breeds was used to enhance this already stunning breed.
It was genius!
So, is Angus beef good? It’s good to the core.
Certified Angus Beef Standards
In 1970 an added, stricter standard for Angus beef was produced by a group of farmers. They got together to produce a certification for Angus beef, demonstrating its quality over other beef, even other non-certified Angus beef. The gentlemen said confidently, “We can do better. We can produce beef that’s extremely tender, juicier and always packed with flavor," and they began the development of the brand standards for Certified Angus Beef we know today.
There are now 10 facts about Certified Angus Beef that define brand standards for Certified Angus meat quality. Here are the requirements:
1. Modest or higher marbling
This beef marbling standard for Certified Angus Beef ensures that there is enough quantity of fat flecks throughout a cut of meat to make it rich and tender.
2. Medium to fine marbling texture
The consistency of the marbling is in view here. Even distribution of the marbling throughout a cut of Angus beef is evaluated to ensure the best, consistent taste and texture is maintained.
3. Only cattle harvested must be less than 30 months of age by dentition and only A-maturity lean
As cattle age, their meat becomes tougher and tends to be less tasty, so part of the Certified Angus Beef definition includes a 30 month, harvest age limit. To ensure this standard is carried out, the animal’s teeth are evaluated. That’s a simple way of saying dentition. (Physiologically, an Angus animal producing Certified Angus meat must be less than 30 months old, though chronologically, the animal may be older. This all depends on how quickly the animal’s teeth show age.)
A-maturity lean has to do with the color and texture of non-fat parts of the meat – the muscle sections that encase the marbling. As cattle age, the color of their lean changes from light cherry-red to a dark red, and their meat will change from a fine texture to coarse.
Maturity of the meat is represented in letters from A to E, A being the most fine and red.
This Certified Angus Beef requirement provides you with a steak that not only looks good, but is tender too!
4. 10- to 16-square-inch ribeye area (19-square-inch limit for specific larger cuts of meat)
5. 1,050-pound hot carcass weight or less
6. 1-inch or less fat thickness
Each of the 3 meat sizing standards of Certified Angus Beef above do not directly impact the taste of the meat, rather how it looks. The sizing requirements of Certified Angus Beef cuts are meant to serve the customer with meat that has good presentation on a plate and Angus steaks that are inherently thicker.
7. Superior muscling
When it comes to meat mass, this standard says it all. The Certified Angus Beef Brand requirements say that the cattle they harvest must have more muscle than the general lineup of cattle. For instance, dairy cows and other light-muscled cattle would not qualify as having “superior muscling,” and therefore their meat would not be certifiable.
Why the emphasis? Simply to provide consumers with consistent yields and “plate presentation."
8. Practically free of capillary rupture
Who likes to eat meat that is stained with broken blood vessels? For that matter, who wants to eat capillaries in their meat at all? This standard guarantees that all Certified Angus Beef cuts look good to eat, almost totally free of blood vessel damage.
9. No dark cutters
Have you ever harvested your own meat? If you have, you might understand this concept. When an animal is stressed at the time of harvest, the meat will appear darker than normal – i.e. a dark cutter— and you may notice a “gammy” taste.
Accordingly, it pays to be humane. The more stress cattle experience at harvest, results in more of a substance called glycogen. To meet the Certified Angus Beef standards, processing companies and cattle owners must provide an environment with as little stress as possible for the Angus cattle as demonstrated by the absence of dark cutters.
God has entrusted cattle farmers with a stewardship, and we would do well to be good stewards.
No dark cutters – check!
10. No neck hump exceeding 2 inches
Although there is little information on why this standard is included in the specifications, one commentator observed that cattle with larger neck humps tend to be less tender than those without them. Of course, Angus breed bulls do, characteristically, have large neck humps– but they are not usually harvested for meat either.
The standards set by the Certified Angus Beef Brand mean that when you buy Certified Angus, you can know you’re getting high-quality taste, appearance, and processing. Angus truly is the best beef to buy!
Are you convinced yet?
Here’s a little something to add to that. You might be curious to know that when comparing Certified Angus Beef vs. USDA Prime, certified beef, in some ways, is ranked even higher than USDA Prime. The Certified Angus Beef Brand reported, “Our beef must have at least as much marbling as the very best of USDA Choice or Prime, plus meet our additional requirements; ensuring it is truly a cut above."
It’s not just the genetics that make this beef great. It’s the standards too!
How Marbling and Raising Impact the Taste of Angus Beef
It might go without saying that Angus beef is superior to other beef types because of its flavor. But do you know what makes Angus beef tastes so good? Aside from good breeding and beef standards, what does Angus beef mean in terms of flavor?
So, step outside the science with us for a minute, and think about the last time you had a really good beef steak - maybe that one from the top grill house in town. What was it that made you close your eyes, turn up the edges of your mouth in a smile, and chow down on another bite? It’s the flavor, right?
Inherent in good Angus beef is a tender, rich flavor that you cannot find anywhere else. It’s a taste of warm fullness, packed with minerals, fat, and protein. It’s a deep flavor that can’t be beat!
Although Angus is already predisposed to great flavor because of its genetics and certification standards, there are two main characteristics that can make or break the quality of Angus beef’s flavor – marbling and raising. These go hand in hand.
Marbling, as we mentioned before, is the little pieces of fat within the lean of meat. Why is marbled meat better? Short and sweet - it adds flavor. As a cut of Angus heats from cooking, baking, or grilling, the bits of fat begin to melt into the meat giving it a rich taste and tender texture. Good marbling vs. bad determines how tasteful your beef will be.
You might have guessed by now that Angus, by nature, contains more marbling than most other cattle breeds. It’s true! Because the Angus cattle breed produces highly marbled meat, it is sought after by many consumers for its rich flavor.
The second thing that plays into the flavor of Angus beef is how the Angus was raised. Grass-fed, non-hormone treated, naturally raised Angus beef cattle get the nutrients, clean air, and environment they need to let their superior Angus genetics thrive. On the other hand, Angus raised in confinement are often given growth hormones to help pack on the muscle meat and to help get them ready for market as quickly as possible. These cattle tend to live in less “clean” environments and are not allowed to graze on nutrient-rich, green grass.
Depending on how an Angus animal is raised, the meat will either be rich in nutrients and flavor, or it will be lacking. Similar to anything else in life, good stewardship leads to good production. Angus beef is no different.
So, what kind of beef will you buy next? Is Angus beef better than regular beef?
We think so!
Meet the Pat Kirk Angus Standard
Pat Kirk is an Iowa, Angus cattle farmer committed to the natural and calculated, personal care of his Angus herd. The Pat Kirk has black Angus calves for sale in Iowa that come from a long line of award-winning sires with genetics, certification, and registration to back up their beef quality.
Are you looking for calves? Iowa Angus breeders who want to finish out commercial calves or add to their breeding stock can be confident that Pat Kirk provides purebred Angus cattle that are hormone-free and antibiotic-free (unless quality of life for the calf demands it). We do the best we can. The calves are pastured raised on grass during the warm months and given premium, non-GMO hay and silage during the winter. This year especially, we have a high quantity of black Angus heifers for sale in Iowa. They are replacement quality! So, don’t hesitate to call us up for more information about the best registered Angus calves for sale and claim your next profitable beef cattle.