Tag Archives: beer

Sheboygan Style Beer Brats

by Kate

My father grew up in Sheboygan, Wisconsin on the shores of Lake Michigan.  My grandfather was an Irishman from Chicago, stationed in Sheboygan during the Second World War. He fell in love with the order and beauty of the place.  He loved the pristine Germanic neatness of the town on the lake, the lawns clipped and swept and groomed and the houses bright and painted and trim, the children well behaved. Luckily for him he also fell in love with my Czech grandmother, who was able to help him live as much like a German as an Irishman ever could. This meant he was priveleged to consume the most incredible bratwurst known to man on a regular basis.

My grandmother is an amazing woman. She is bright, stylish, well read and informed regarding the issues of the day, and an impeccable hostess. Her home is immaculate and welcoming. She turned 92 last month.

Luckily, we were able to visit her and spend some time in Sheboygan back in June. The Sheboygan area was settled by German’s in the mid-1800’s, and retains a strong Germanic flavor to this day. Every summer, the town hosts a Bratwurst Festival and boasts the best brats in the land. Johnsonville brats are made in Sheboygan County, in a town just a few miles away. The best bratwurst in the world, however, is definitely made in my Grandmother’s backyard. On this visit, I felt that it was crucial that I learn how to make my Grandma Dorothy’s Sheboygan Style Brats. Luckily for me, she had just purchased a couple dozen Johnsonville brats on sale. That is the first step, she told me. Wait for a sale, and then load up on the Johnsonville brats.

We are going to grill these in a moment, but first we will prepare the crucial marinade. For 12 brats, you will need one large white onion and a stick and a half of butter. Slice the onion in half, and then slice lengthwise. Melt the butter in a deep saucepan, and then gently saute the onions on medium low. You just want to soften them up a bit. As soon as they have softened slightly, pour in 2 cans of beer. Yes, cans. You may be a sophisticated bottle beer drinker, but the beer we are looking for here is a light, Milwaukee style canned beer, not a deep dark bottled malty fancy shmancy beer of any sort. Remember that you are making Wisconsin beer brats. Try Miller, or Pabst.

Turn the buttery beer down as low as it can go and leave it on the burner while you head out to your hot grill- preferably your charcoal grill. Grandma recommends a classic Weber grill.

She has been grilling brats for about 70 years, so I tend to respect her opinion quite a bit.

You can throw some patties on the grill as well. Hamburgers love the buttery beer brat marinade as much as brats do.

My grandmother dusts her hamburger patties with Lawry’s Seasoned Salt.  

As soon as the brats and burgers are done grilling, they are ready to meet their match. Pull them off the grill, bring them into the kitchen, and place them one by one into the (still bubbling) beer, butter, and onion mixture.

Turn off the heat entirely and let them luxuriate in all that beer and butter. And here’s the thing. You can pull the brats out, and put them on buns. It would be best if you had these incredible rolls from the German bakery down the street in Sheboygan, but if you don’t you can make do.

You can slice the rolls and butter them and place them on a tray and slide them into a hot oven for a little while, like my Grandma does, and pull them out when they have reached the point of perfection. This sounds like it is leading to a picture, but I don’t have one because at this point my documenting ceased and I ate a couple brats.

BUT

If you eat the brats now, they will not really be my Grandma Dorothy’s Best in the World Beer Brats. That is because she generally makes a massive batch to prepare for the future hordes of Slattery grandchildren, so she lets the batch of brats in the beer marinade cool, and then she gets out a few gallon sized freezer bags. She places four to six brats and a couple burgers in each one, and she pours a cup or two of the marinade over each of them.

Then she sends all these bags down to the freezer in the basement, lays them out carefully so they freeze evenly. She pulls them out when the grandchildren or great grandchildren come to town, or in the middle of the winter when it is important to taste a bit of summer. She sent a bag with me on my way back to Pittsburgh. I pulled it out of the freezer a couple days later and heated up the brats gently on low heat in a cast iron pan. The time the grilled brats spend marinading in the beer and butter mixture adds an amazing complexity and richness to their flavor. This is definitely Casey’s favorite summer lunch. I highly recommend the process. You’ll be glad you tried it. Butter and beer and bratwurst- you can’t go wrong. Try it, and let me know how it goes!

Grandma Dorothy’s Best Beer Brats

1-2 onions

1 1/2 stick butter

12 Johnsonville brats

2 cans Milwaukee style beer

Slice the onion in half, then continue to slice lengthwise. Heat butter slowly in deep skillet and saute onions gently till soft. Pour in two cans (or more if you’ve got more brats) beer and leave on lowest heat to barely simmer. Grill brats, and Burgers if you’d like. Drop brats into beer, and leave to marinade till cool. Bag up the brats in gallon size freezer bags, pouring 1-2 cups marinade over each batch. Freeze until you need them. Pull out brats and burgers and frozen marinade, and heat slowly. Serve with fresh onions and mustard on a sliced, buttered bun slightly browned in the oven. Enjoy.

Bud Light and Amish Boys

by Mary

Until last night, I thought that my dear sister Colleen  and her graceful ability with writing had the Amish topic covered. But after meeting up with my brother Rob at the bar yesterday, I realized that I had an addition to make on reporting about Amish happenings around these parts. You may be wondering why I had the inspiration to blog about the Amish while at a tavern of all places. Bear with me and I shall explain.

First, I would like to introduce my favorite bar: Leo and Leona’s. This bar is located along Hwy 33,  just two or three miles from my parents house. The establishment is literally an old piece of ridge history around these parts. In general, I am not a bar person. I abhor smoky places filled with too much crowded commotion, also, random guys hitting on me is not something that I appreciate. Leo and Leona’s is my safe spot. It’s more pub-like than anything. The place is known for good local music that varies. Live music is performed inside the adjoined dance hall, a space that was used to host basketball games and dances under old open beam rafters back in the 40’s. Recently, the bar has started to once again hold square dances. This is something that I find delightfully dorky and oddly fun. Particularly in the summer time , I like to go pop in at the bar. More likely than not, I’ll be in wranglers and cowboy boots and on the way home from riding my horse, or not so put together in an old mini skirt and rain boots. When I am at Leo and Leona’s, it doesn’t really matter, because it’s a low key kind of atmosphere, and I am almost always with my brothers. An hour or two there is a rather amusing experience.

For quite some time now,  one of the owners and the regular bartender have been asking me if I will take up some hours tending bar. In the past, I’ve always laughed the question away. But the other night, I just had to say yes…. You see, the bar is currently being re-sided on the exterior by two young Amish men from the Bangor community. I have seen them busy at work while out running or driving past. Never have I put much energy into thinking about them and their gig (at a tavern for goodness sakes!).

Much to my initial confusion, the other night, I saw both of them not outside the bar, but IN it! One was dressed in normal Amish garb, the other in jeans and a checkered shirt. Regardless of his “englisher” clothing, his tell-tale bowl cut hair and demeanor totally gave him away as a young Amish man out in the mainstream world.

Though it was difficult not to stare because of the supreme awkwardness of the entire situation, I held my ground and didn’t gawk at them perched on stools at the end of the bar. After a bit, Dan a Co-Owner of the place, threw out his old offer of “Mary, you want to bartend?” “Why” I asked. His response was “Well Levi and his friend here don’t want to see any old man behind the bar. They want a women to serve them drinks, so can’t you just fill in for Mark while he goes out on break?”

This offering of all offerings was such a bizarre situation that I couldn’t resist. Really, I mean how many people hand out cold Bud Lights to rebellious Amish carpenters? With a timid but jovial attitude, and my maximum drinking limit of 2 gins and tonics, I took up the job of a temporary bartender for a bit.

I have a super embarrassing track record of reading what I consider to be junk food for the brain, that is, Amish fiction novels. It seems like all the books are the same. You have the rebel drama. Young Amish guys drive cars, drink, and try to date worldy women. Before, I used to just snort and think about how silly those fluff books are. It’s so weird to be in a setting where it actually is what those bad-for-my-brain books have chapters about. My brother swears that they were checking me out….weird, weird weird!

In the future, I have no interest in serving any Amish bad boys beer. I would much rather do business with them. I’ll stick to having them ferry my horses hooves and sell me tack and fencing supplys. It’s a heck of a lot less weird, plus I can always use a new halter or shank. Perhaps I can barter for tack with Bud Light though?