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I have a package of bratwurst that I am going to cook within the next few days. The only two beers I have in the fridge are a stout and a lager. I'm sure I could use the lager and it would turn out just fine. But what about the stout? What kinds of beers are good with beer brats?

And while I'm at it, what is the most popular method of cooking beer brats? Just off hand I'd say marinate the brats in the beer, then maybe start cooking them by boiling them in the beer and then move them to the grill. Is that about right? Would that be too much exposure to the beer if I tried it with a stout?

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What a curious cultural misunderstanding - in Germany, the bratwurst are cooked without beer. In fact, if they are cooked in a liquid instead of roasted/grilled, they shouldn't be called "bratwurst" (which means "roasted sausage"). The cold beer is saved for drinking with the roasted wurst. Now I am almost itching to try this out just to see if it is edible. –  rumtscho Apr 19 '11 at 17:35
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It is a common misconception that "brät" is derived from the New High German word "braten" meaning "roast"; is actually derived from the Old High German word "brato" meaning "finely chipped lean calf or swine meat". Therefore, etymologically speaking, "brät" most likely refers to the contents of the sausage, not the way they are cooked. As for whether or not it's a good idea to cook them in beer, that's a different story ;-) –  ESultanik Apr 19 '11 at 19:10
    
At least that's the way "brät" is used in the US. For example, an American would probably not identify a grilled blutwurst as a type of "brätwurst." –  ESultanik Apr 19 '11 at 19:20
    
@Rum you're not too far off; not all brats are prepared with beer. "Beer Brats" is more of a marketing gimmic in supermarkets; mostly trying to capture the flavor of the ones that are cooked in beer. Generally American Supermarkets have an aisle of pre-packaged, pre-cooked, soul-less sausages; sad really, though they are still quite tasty. –  mfg Apr 19 '11 at 21:01

3 Answers 3

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Since most are pre-cooked (in US Supermarkets anyway), and you are just re-heating, your (still tasty) options are pretty limited with respect to beer brats

From the perspective of UW Madison (self-proclaimed "Brat Capital of the World"):

  • Simmer in beer first, then grill. For more info here is a post regarding prep; this method would definitely be the preferred method for upping the intake of moisture without losing it during grilling (so long as you don't lose the brat flavor by wasting the beer you boiled them in)
  • For an incredibly "persnickety" method:

    I have found that if you cook the brats on the grill first, then put them into the beer they don't shrink as much. Here's how I do it: I brown the brats lightly on both sides, then I place them in 'warm' beer for a few minutes. Repeat several times until brats are cooked thoroughly. Now you can put the brats into 'hot' beer to hold for individual serving... When I said brown the brats lightly, I meant about 20 seconds per side on hot coals then into a 180 degree beer bath. Any hotter and they will shrink. I continue alternating the grill and beer bath until they are fully cooked. It's a lot of work but my brats weigh almost as much cooked as when they went on the grill. Another thing you might try is adding chopped onion to your beer bath."

In a non-tailgate, just getting them cooked in a hurry setting:

  • For grilling, I put them whole on the rack, otherwise you will lose moisture. Adding beer (while grilling) won't really do anything but cool them and the charcoal down; but you could make a beer-mustard
  • For stovetop, I barely cover the brats in beer (typically watery domestic like Miller High Life) in a pot/pan that can accomodate the quantity of brats being cooked and heat until beer reduces like a glaze. Wait until casing browns up a bit, then enjoy. In this instance I fork them a few times to absorb beer.
  • For microwave, same as stove basically, fork and nuke covered with beer.

As for type of beer, I think watery domestic does it best for the boiling since the carbonation is high and the sugars glaze up nicely before the brat is over-done. For the beer mustard pale ales are recommended by some, but I like brown, spicy mustard and might try something sweeter like a porter and banging heads with some punch from horseradish.

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FWIW, if you can get non-pre-cooked brats, the extra time spent cooking to render down the fats gives the beer ample time to flavor the meat. And to be absorbed by the cook. –  Shog9 Apr 21 '11 at 18:05
    
@Knives I did find a recipe eventually that really went to great lengths to maximize the brat; sounds like it would probably be able to kick it pre-cooked or not. According to him and his beer-bath method, cooling and returning to temp maintains moisture and absorption best; for me pre-soaking works well, but I'd like to try his method (although I doubt I ever will). –  mfg Apr 21 '11 at 19:07
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that's... A really fiddly technique! That said, I could kinda see it working; the common technique (when grilling for a group) of moving the brats back and forth between the grill and the beer tends to produce reasonable results, this is just... waaaay more obsessive. –  Shog9 Apr 21 '11 at 19:12
    
I never buy precooked brats and never have difficulty buying them (at least in Chicago). Brats are pretty popular here. At Trader Joe's I don't even think they carry pre-cooked brats. At the bigger grocers, I'd guess half are cooked and half raw. –  Jeff Axelrod Feb 28 '13 at 4:54

Not a stout, the roast is too much with the delicate flavors of the sausage. I would suggest a German wheat beer, or a dark lager such as schwartzbier.

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Normally, I wouldn't diss either of those suggestions, but... You're boiling or braising a sausage in it. Go cheap - subtle flavors really don't come through, at least in my experience. mfg's suggestion sounds about right; save the decent stuff to drink while you're grilling... –  Shog9 Apr 21 '11 at 18:03

Like mfg said, most brats are precooked in the US.

When I make beer brats, I actually use the oven. (I do not have a grill) Take a roasting pan and place the brats in the pan, then pour one bottle of beer into the pan. I would suggest a lighter beer or even spiked apple cider (I discovered the apple cider worked well after someone left a few bottles at my apt). For brands, I would suggest Radeberger or Brooklyn Lager.

Make sure you slice or poke some forkholes in the brat so that the beer can sink in.

Then cover pan with tin foil and cook at 375 for 20 minutes. After the 20 minutes, take off the tin foil and spoon any leftover beer over the brats and let them cook for another 5-10 to get a little crispy.

Then grab some sauerkraut and a bun and enjoy!

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Try throwing the sauerkraut in with the beer some time... Brats get a little tangy, kraut gets a little beery, a good time is had by all. –  Shog9 Apr 21 '11 at 18:08
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That's fun too! Though sometimes I like my sauerkraut a little crunchier. I also will sometimes add sliced apples in there with pearl onions so those get all squishy and good. –  zompz Apr 21 '11 at 18:11

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