The Artisan Beef Institute™ is an outreach, education, and research program targeted toward home cooks, professional chefs, grill meisters, and artisan farmers, ranchers, slaughterhouses, and butchers. Having defined the concept and criteria for artisan beef (and other meats), we advocate for, certify, and support any top-notch natural or organic rancher or butcher who employs superior animal husbandry and land management practices to create artisan quality beef and now also pork, lamb, goat, and poultry.

A core objective is to help meat lovers look beyond overly simple labels such as USDA grade, “natural,” “grass-fed” or “free-range” when purchasing beef, pork, lamb, goat, and poultry. Instead, we help people discover and celebrate the little known secret that genuine artisan beef is very much like a fine wine, unique flavors and characteristics emerge from the influences of the breed, growing region, diet, husbandry and aging techniques, and the relative talents of those who help bring it to our tables.

We also reinforce the critical need for gentle handling at all times from farm to fork. Our minimum criteria also include no use of artificial growth stimulants including hormones or preventative antibiotics.

To achieve our goals we have developed a series of Artisan Meat guides and an interactive education platform.

The Tasting Guides

We created the first beef, pork, lamb, chicken, and other meat tasting guides and investigate and evaluate meat from different farms, ranches, and butchers to help people describe the tasting experience and discover their individual preferred styles. This framework and suggested descriptors give meat lovers a new language to use when discussing their individual likes and dislikes in Texture, Personality, Impression, and specific flavor notes. A key purpose of our guides is to create a universal language does not yet exist.

We also developed a sourcing guide and certify individual farms, ranches, and butchers as having met our Artisan Meat standards including a professional taste evaluation. You may learn more about and download the guides on the Tasting Guide section of our site.

Much of the methodology used in our MeatCamp sessions and the Artisan Beef Tasting Guide© and those for pork, lamb, poultry, and other meats was based on consultations and tastings with winemakers, master sommeliers, wine educators, sensory experts, chefs, butchers, ranchers, and psycholinguists. We are currently developing programs with university meat science and ethno-psychology departments. If you would like to participate in these studies or partner with us on other research and evaluative programs, please contact Carrie AT oliverranch {dot] com.

Our Programs

Our education and outreach program includes six key components. The first is our ratings of meat from individual farm, ranch, and butcher teams, co-ops, or brand groups and growing directory for sourcing Artisan or near artisan quality meat. This new program, to be released in beta format in March 2010, will also include community based features to leverage the power of those similarly seeking to provide or purchase and enjoy the very best our farms and ranches have to offer.

The second is a public series of events called “The Provenance of Meat™” also known as MeatCamp™. These events combine an interactive expert panel discussion with a blind tasting of meat from up to six different artisan farms or producer groups. Seating up to 75 people (or accommodating more as needed), we host these educational dinners in cities across North America, with the inaugural event on August 11, 2008, in San Francisco in conjunction with the highly regarded Commonwealth Club of San Francisco.

The third is a home tasting kit, known as the Discover Beef Experience Artisan Steak taster pack, which we offer to individual customers through our online marketplace, The Oliver Ranch Company. This home tasting kit includes steaks from up to four artisan producers along with an instructional guide and other tips for hosting a private steak tasting.

The fourth, coming in 2014, is a larger artisan meat festival or festivals currently in the planning stages.

The fifth is a private program targeted at beef farmers/ranchers and butchers.

Finally, we are available for speaking engagements, consulting, and private events in your home, restaurant, catering program, farm association, or company.

Additional Background

The Artisan Beef Institute™ & its sister company, The Oliver Ranch Company™ were formally launched in 2005, & incorporated in 2007 with a mission to transform beef (and other meats) from a commodity to a food with tremendous variety by leveraging a little known secret: the very best meats are like fine wines; they take on the flavor of the land and the artisans that craft them.

Much as the wine industry and Starbucks did, our consumer education platform helps consumers discover, discuss, and celebrate their own preferences for different styles of meat or particular husbandry protocols. Then, through a series of educational and live tasting events, along with a home Artisan Steak Tasting™ kit, we seek to give meat lovers the ability to choose exactly what’s on their plate based on what’s important to them (flavor, origin, husbandry practices, occasion, etc.).

In doing so, we directly and indirectly reward those individual farmers, truckers, slaughterhouses, and butchers who practice sustainable land management techniques and superior animal husbandry, allowing these artisans and their families the ability to stay on the land or in there area of expertise. Finally, we provide consumer and professional feedback to the producers, allowing them to optimize their programs to continually improve product quality with time.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

David McElhaney June 18, 2010 at 12:52 pm

I was given your website by Mike Smucker of Smuckers Meats in Lancaster, PA. They are our processor, we do a 17 day aged product with no added hormones and no fed antibiotics. We primarly sell through farmers markets in the Pittsburgh area. You have a very interesting program, I would like to know more about it.


Carrie Oliver June 18, 2010 at 2:06 pm

David, thank you for visiting and leaving a comment! I have a lot of respect for Mike Smucker and I’m happy he sent you my way. Look for an email!

Kitchen Report September 16, 2010 at 8:54 am

I’m glad to know about your site, my grandfather raised Highland cattle and I’ve always preferred humanely raised, grass-fed beef.


Carrie Oliver October 12, 2010 at 9:49 am

Kendra, Highland cattle! They can certainly make delicious beef, especially raised on a grass-only diet. Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment.

Jackie @Auburn Meadow Farm December 4, 2011 at 6:04 am

Hi Carrie,
I’m interested in learning more about your thoughts for certifications/sommelier training and any meatcamp schedules planned?
Thanks for all your efforts,

Carrie Oliver January 16, 2012 at 10:34 am

Jackie, I found this note in spam. I’d love to talk with you!

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