9 Beer And Sausage Pairings To Celebrate National Bratwurst Day, Because Nothing Goes Together Better
August 16 marks National Bratwurst Day, and there are a plateful of ways to celebrate. The best approach to observing the holiday is consuming the celebrated sausage, and whether you enjoy your brat with a bread roll or a brezel, it's downright requisite that you wash it down with a beer. So, in honor of the national holiday, here are nine impeccable beer and sausage pairings suited to a variety of tastes.
The bratwurst originated in Germany, with its first documented mentioning dating back to 1313. The Bavarian sausage gets its name from Old High German "brät-," meaning finely chopped meat, and "wurst," meaning sausage, and is typically composed of veal, pork, or beef that's then pan fried or grilled. Traditionally, it's consumed with sauerkraut or potato salad, but always accompanied by beer.
While the bratwurst has universal appeal, if you have a different sausage of choice, we've got you covered too. For every favorite encased minced meat option, the missing link, so to speak, is its malt mate to match. For curating the companions to this cured cuisine, I called on my dear friend, Drew Rizzo, an amateur (but incredibly dedicated) beer connoisseur. In the five years he's been legal to drink, Drew has tried more than 2,500 beers, and visited more than 50 breweries, from large-scale production plants like Heineken and Paulaner to barely a hole in the wall, single barrel systems most haven't heard of like Frog Level or Swamp Head breweries. For each banger and brew pairing he offers up his recommended labels so that you're always guaranteed a winning combination.
1. Summer Sausage And Kolsch
Summer sausage is a general classification of easy go-to, no-cook sausages. They're typically semi-dry, and mildly seasoned. As the name suggests, they're popular during the summer, and are best enjoyed when cooling off with a crisp Kolsch, a specialty from Cologne, Germany.
Easy To Find: Ballast Point Yellowtail Pale Ale
Don't let the name confuse you — it's definitely a Kolsch. Refreshing and drinkable, you should be able to go through about five of these before you feel a buzz.
Alternate: Schlafly Kolsch
For those in the Midwest corridor who don't get Ballast Point, don't worry — you do get Schlafly's Kolsch, and that baby won the gold medal for "Best German-style Kolsch" at the 2010 World Beer Cup. Yeah, that's right. Schlafly beat the Germans at their own beer style.
2. Andouille And Märzen
This spicy smoked sausage, featured in Cajun dishes like Jambalaya, works well with the medium to full body and malty flavor of a Bavarian Märzen that balances the seasonings.
Easy To Find: Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Märzen
Do you know what "quaffable" means? It means drinkable. That is this beer. But it isn't a slouch in taste just because it goes down easy. There's a smokiness that will accentuate the Creole flavors in the sausage. And at 5.4 percent, you can quaff this beer all day long without getting messy. (Ahem, please drink responsibly.)
Alternate: Gordon Biersch Märzen
This beer won the bronze medal for "Best Smoke Beer" at the 2014 World Beer Cup. It's enough to remind you that you're drinking something a little exciting, but not enough to interfere with the flavors in the food.
3. Salami And Stout
Pair this cured creation, native to Italy, with a dark stout. Its roasted malt flavors cut back the saltiness of the marbled sausage.
Easy To Find: Founder Breakfast Stout
This is brewed with flaked oats, chocolates, and Sumatra and Kona coffee. The roasty-ness of the coffee flavor will balance out the spice in the salami.
Alternate: Prairie BOMB!
Yes, the exclamation point is part of the name. This is an imperial stout aged on coffee, cacao nibs, vanilla beans, and ancho chili peppers. The heat from the peppers will build as you sip (do not chug) this 14 percent ABV Goliath. It's harder to find, but well worth the effort to obtain.
4. Frankfurter And Cream Ales
Just as you paired your hot dog with your favorite cream soda when you were a child, the Frankfurter is best paired with a creamy American beer. Cream ales, similar to pale lager, have a subdued hop and malt flavor.
Easy To Find: Anderson Valley Summer Solstice
Commonly known as "adult cream soda." Enough said.
Alternate: Sixpoint Sweet Action
This one is light and creamy, with gentle notes of orange, caramel, papaya, and lemon.
5. Sweet Italian Sausage And Saison
The fruity and spicy notes of a Saison play perfectly with the fennel flavor that seasons sweet Italian sausage.
Easy To Find: Ommegang Hennepin
Classic, straw colored, and with a little spice like black pepper and lemon grass.
Alternate: Boulevard Saison Brett
It has that light body that you want in a Saison, but the presence of brettanomyces in the brewing process adds a little funk to it. Funk as in tartness — fruity but not sweet. It's kind of like your favorite playlist: Entirely alt rock, except that one James Brown song that has been stuck in your head forever.
6. Kielbasa And Pilsner
This classic Polish beef sausage, most often served with sauerkraut and caramelized onion, is best balanced with a golden Czech-style pilsner known for its high foaminess and lighter flavor.
Easy To Find (Not So Easy To Pronounce): Plzeňský Prazdroj Pilsner Urquell
A staple of the beer world, this Czech pilsner is probably something you've had before. And that's the point — pilsners are about consistency, not flare. Go with what you know.
Alternate: Sam Adam Noble Pils
This one was the winner of the 2009 Beer Lover's Choice, so you know at least 67,000 people voted for it.
7. Chorizo And Lager
This spicy punch of paprika, pork, and red peppers finds harmony with a medium bodied amber lager whose slight malt sweetness and toasted character balances the savory sausage.
Easy To Find: Great Lakes Eliot Ness
Flip the bird to prohibition's failed experiment by drinking a beer named after a famous prohibition agent from Chicago.
Alternate: Yuengling Traditional Lager
Technically, this is an "American amber lager," which is distinct from the "Vienna lager" most people associate with lagers, but why let that stop you?
8. Blood Sausage And Scotch Ale
For the brave of heart, the strong and peppery blood sausage is best balanced by the smooth caramel sweetness of a Scotch ale.
Easy To Find: Oskar Blue Old Chub
A malty backbone and a subtle smoked malt flavor characterize this beer.
Alternate: Traquair House Ale
"Scotch ales" being named after Scotland, maybe try something from Scotland? This one is plum and caramel-ly (which is totally a word).
9. Bratwurst And Weizenbock
Last but not least, we have the bratwurst. Pay tribute, and order up a plate of the best "wurst" of the week. While bratwurst pairs nicely with a wide array of beers, it comes as no surprise that the ideal match is a German brew. The bold Bavarian Weizenbock made of malted wheat makes a perfect biergarten mate to the brat.
Easy To Find: Schneider Aventinus
There's a reason any German beer hall you've ever been to has at least one thing from Schneider on tap. They make beers you can crush by the liter without breaking a sweat.
Alternate: Weihenstephaner Vitus
If you've been to a beer hall that didn't have Aventinus, it's probably because they had Vitus instead. This one is best consumed while kneeling on a table held aloft by your eight strongest beer mates.
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