MAKING THE CUT
Bently Ranch opens artisanal butcher shop.
WRITTEN BY KELSEY FITZGERALD
PHOTOS BY CANDICE VIVIEN
Nathan Thomas organizes the meat in the dry age room at Bently Ranch Butcher Shop
From raising herds of happy cattle to giving new life to historic buildings, Bently Ranch in Minden is known for its commitment to quality, sustainability, and green business practices.
The ranch, established by Christopher Bently in 1997, produces grains as well as Angus, Hereford, and Charolais-blend cattle — humanely raised, grass fed, grass finished, hormone free, and Global Animal Partnership (or GAP) Step 4 certified — on more than 50,000 acres in Northern Nevada and California. (The Step 4 label means the animals live in an enriched outdoor area.) Ranch personnel have worked in biofuels production, maintain an extensive composting facility, and are in the process of opening a distillery in a 100-year-old building that housed a flour mill in Minden. Now, with the launch of a new USDA-certified artisanal butcher shop, they aim to ensure the quality of their beef all the way from the pasture to the butcher shop counter.
“From the time [our cattle] are born until they are two years old, which is typically when we harvest and process them, we’re controlling their environment the whole time,” says Woody Worthington, Bently Ranch sales and marketing manager. “That’s why we opened up a butcher shop — so we can close the loop and finish the product, cutting the steaks up and preparing them and getting them out to the consumer.”
Nathan Thomas breaks down meat at Bently Ranch Butcher Shop in Minden
The butcher shop opened in February on Buckeye Road in Minden. Here, a team of three butchers and four seasonal employees processes beef raised on the ranch, as well as lamb from Gardnerville’s Borda family and an occasional lamb or pig raised by youths from local 4-H and Future Farmers of America programs.
Animals are not harvested on site but are taken to Wolf Pack Meats in Reno. Beef is then transported back to Bently Ranch’s butcher shop, where it is dry aged for 21 days before processing. The shop’s head butcher, Nathan Thomas, and his team are skilled in breaking down all parts of the animal.
“We’re nose to tail, so we utilize everything,” Worthington says. “We have the common New York and the rib eye and the top sirloin and all of that, but we’re really embracing the idea of thinking outside of the cut.”
Bently Ranch’s commitment to quality and sustainability extends from its facilities right down to its product packaging. The butcher shop is housed in a LEED (green building rating system) Gold-certified building, formerly the site of the ranch’s biofuels gas station. After it closed, employees repurposed it into a butcher shop, incorporating recycled design materials such as decorative wood and metal from around the ranch and ensuring that all new equipment met strict LEED sustainability standards.
For shipping meat to out-of-town customers, Bently Ranch’s team decided against using the white Styrofoam common among other retailers. Instead, they designed a new form of packaging with a biodegradable, corn-based insulating foam — just one of many small sustainability measures at Bently Ranch that add up to a big impact.