Recipe: Beer and brats by David Theiss |

Recipe: Beer and brats by David Theiss

David Theiss
Brats became an American staple thanks to German immigrants, many who settled in Wisconsin.

The farmers market ended this last weekend, and it brings to mind how many people really like sausage. Every week we would be pedaling our wares, answering all kinds of sausage questions. As to which I had a lot of answers. One question that was asked over and over was, “What constitutes a brat?” Brat is a shortened American slang version of the German bratwurst. Wurst, referring to a general term of seasoned minced meat usually stuffed in casings. Wurst, in proto Germanic “wurstiz,” means something turned or twisted.

A “bratwurst” is a specific type of fresh sausage originating in Germany, made with finely chopped predominately veal or pork. Germans use seasonings like coriander, ginger, nutmeg or caraway. In traditional German bratwurst, they also use cream and eggs in their recipes. Sausage is made all in one form or another in every country in the world and flavor and heat vary from region to region.

Germany claims its bratwurst dates back to the 1300s in a region of Nuremberg. This region is still highly regarded for its production of grilling sausages. Sausage has always been a large part of the fall harvests of pigs. Sausage is the efficient end to processing pork. In days gone by, Sausage makers would use everything except the squeal to make sausage, encompassing the meat with up to 50 percent fat. Nowadays, commercial sausage is made with a lot stricter rules, with caps put on fats and additives. Years ago it was necessary to cure smoke and/or dry sausages for preservation.

Sausage today is continued to be made, because it’s just great food.

Brats came to America via the German immigrants moving to Wisconsin. They created their own style and called it Sheboygan brats for that region of Wisconsin. Brats have become incredible popular, sold at concession stands at sporting events and Oktoberfest festivals all over the United States.

Oktoberfest celebrated in Munich, Germany, usually starts around the 16th of September and ends the first week in October. A folk beer festival that’s one of the largest in the world, it consumes more than 60,000 bottles of beer, and thousands of pounds of bratwurst annually.

To help you celebrate your own Oktoberfest here at home, we recently developed two types of brats — a smoked brat with cheddar cheese and a jalapeno brat with hot pepper cheese, fondly named 1864 Mild and 1864 Hot. We recommend them at all your Wolf Pack tailgate parties. Delicious.

These brats are the center of this recipe this week. I hope you enjoy.

Beer and Brats


1 bottle of a pilsner beer (any strong beer will do)

1 yellow onion, chopped

2 tablespoons butter

Package of brats

Good bakery roll

Mustard, Dijon is best


Pour bottle of beer in pot on stove with equal parts water. Add onions and sausages. Simmer for 20 minutes with lid on.

On hot grill, grill sausages for 20 minutes. Serve on bun with sautéed onions and mustard.

Serving suggestion: Add sauerkraut for that vinegary goodness. And a side of potato salad.

David Theiss is the owner of Butler Gourmet Meats in Carson City since 1973.