Our last post explained what Oktoberfest is, and we mentioned that we will have bratwurst for sale along with hot pretzels and draft Sam Adams Octoberfest beer in the Fest Haus (the large metal building at the Farm Center). Since then, we’ve had people ask what exactly a bratwurst is and here’s the answer:
A bratwurst, also known as a brat in American English, is a sausage usually composed of veal, pork or beef. The name is derived from Old High German Brätwurst, from brät-, which is finely chopped meat and Wurst, or sausage. Though the brat in bratwurst described the way the sausages are made, modern Germans associate it with the German verb “braten”, which means to pan fry or roast. Bratwurst is usually grilled or pan fried, and sometimes cooked in broth or beer.
There are different types of bratwurst in Germany, but not so many here in the United states. Here’s what Wikipedia had to say about bratwursts in America, a c couple of neat trivia facts for you as well:
Bratwurst is a common type of sausage in the United States, especially in the state of Wisconsin, where the largest ancestry group is German. Originally brought to North America by German immigrants, it is a common sight at summer cookouts, alongside the more famous hot dog. Wisconsin is also the origin of the “beer brat”, a regional favorite where the bratwurst are poached in beer (generally a mixture of a pilsner style beer with butter and onions) prior to grilling over charcoal.
The bratwurst was popularized in Sheboygan County, Wisconsin in the 1920s. In general, each local butcher shop would take orders and hand make bratwurst fresh to be picked up on a particular day. The fat content of the sausages was substantial, making daily pick up necessary to avoid spoilage. Some of the fat is removed as a result of the cooking over charcoal.
The bratwurst (or “brat”) also became popular as a mainstay of sports stadiums after Bill Sperling introduced bratwurst to Major League Baseball in Milwaukee County Stadium in 1954. The brats, which sold for 35 cents then, were grilled and placed into a container of a special tomato sauce before being served.The bratwurst were such a hit, Sperling said, that Duke Snider of the Brooklyn Dodgers took a case back to New York. Currently Miller Park in Milwaukee, Wisconsin is the only baseball stadium that sells more bratwurst than hot dogs.
Every year, during the Memorial Day weekend, the city of Madison, Wisconsin hosts the Brat Fest, which is billed as the “world’s largest bratwurst festival.”
The town of Bucyrus, Ohio (which calls itself the “Bratwurst Capital of America”) has held the three-day Bucyrus Bratwurst Festival annually since 1967.