Beer and Brats
Grilled Beer Brats
Everyone will give you different advice about making Beer and Brats.. That can get pretty confusing. It really depends on the bratwurst you’re planning to cook. Brats come in a range much like steak, and your cooking and grilling should reflect your selection of meat.
Selecting Bratwurst Sausage
If you’re not familiar with Bratwurst, then you may want to speak to someone in the meat department. Be sure to rhyme Brats with dots (with the bra sound in there). If you say Brats (like naughty kids), then the whole meat department will be laughing once you’ve left the meat area.
The first decision will be whether to get natural Brats or manufactured Brats. The natural sausages are cased in intestines. The manufactured are packed in a manmade casing. The best sausages are cased in intestines, but they cost more.
Next, you’ll need to decide if you want cooked or uncooked Brats. Some are raw meat like breakfast sausage. Others are pre-cooked like hot dogs. Generally, you’ll pay more for the uncooked (which are often the intestine cased Brats).
The best Brats are the natural, uncooked sausages.
The quickest, easiest, and cheapest Brats are the manufactured, pre-cooked.
Simmering Brats in Beer
Both types of Brats can be simmered in beer, or pre-cooked can be marinated. This is what makes them Beer and Brats.
If you use natural Brats, then put the sausages in a pan with 2 beers and a chopped up onion plus half a stick of butter. You can pierce the skins. But, the intestines breath, so the meat does absorb the savory beer flavor if you don't stick them with a fork. They will have more grease in there if not pierced.
For manufactured Brats, do pierce the skins. The manmade casings do not breath. You’re basically wasting your time to simmer the manufactured sausages, unless you pierce the skins and let some of the beer soak into the meat. Take a fork and stick some small holes in the casings, add the sausages to the beer and water and simmer.
Do note that you don’t want to boil either the natural or manufactured Brats. That’s too much heat for this dish. Get the water hot enough to put off a bit of steam but below the boiling point. Let the Bratwurst simmer along for 20 minutes or so up to 45 minutes if at a low temperature. Uncooked brats will turn from a pinkish red color to kind of a light brown or beige.
Brats on the Grill
Turn your electric grill to medium or get coals at a gray hot level and put the Brats on. Use tongs to place the meat and also for any turning. This is especially important if using natural Brats, but you don’t want lots of holes in the synthetic versions either. The flavor leaks out if you have hole-y Brats.
If you have uncooked sausage, then it will take about 20 minutes to cook the meat (if not cooked inside a bit ahead of time). If you have pre-cooked, it will only take a few minutes. You want grill stripes and that smoked flavor. Do watch close. Burned Brats are not very tasty.
Serving Up the Beer Brats
It’s popular to pull the Brats off the grill and place in a pan of beer baste. Don’t use the beer/water used for simmering. Make up a fresh batch for after the grilling. There are many recipe versions. All I’ve tried have been good. You don't have to do this step though. The brats come off the grill tasting great without an after grilling soak.
Best Beer Brats Marinade, Simmer Mixture, or Grill Baste
2 cans beer or enough to cover them (different brands give different flavors)
1/2 stick real butter
1 onion cut in rings
Serving Up the Brats
When you’re ready to serve the Beer Brats, pull out the buns. Buns made for Brats are the best. They’re big and heavy and clearly made for meatier fare. They aren’t available everywhere. Subs rolls can be substituted. Hot dog buns are fine, but they are awfully small to hold Brats.
Mustard is a traditional topping. Again, a Brats mustard is wonderful but hard to find in some parts of the country. If you can’t find Brats mustard, then a good quality dark mustard is the best substitute.
Most folks also like onions on the Brats. Those can be grilled for extra flavor. A grill basket is most helpful if doing the onions on the grill.
Some people add sauerkraut. It gives the Brats sandwich a nice extra zing. On the other hand, some folks do not like sauerkraut. It’s nice to have it available.