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[USA] "Chuckwagon's Beer Brats"

Posted: Fri May 20, 2011 05:12
by Chuckwagon
[USA] "Chuckwagon`s Beer Brats"

7 lbs. pork butt (nearly frozen)
2 lbs. beef chuck (nearly frozen)
1 lb pork backfat (frozen solid)
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tblspn. very coarsely ground black pepper
1-3/4 cups soy protein concentrate
2 large eggs (cold)
1 cup heavy cream (cold)
1-1/2 tblspns. rubbed sage
1/2 tspn. ground nutmeg
1/2 tspn. dried thyme
1/2 tblspn. ginger
4 tblspns. kosher salt
3 tblspns. sugar
1 pint flat lager (not pilsner) beer

"Fresh"-Type Beer Brats

Cut the meat with fat into inch cubes then grind it through a 3/8" plate. Stir all the dry ingredients with the cream for even distribution in the meat. Whip the eggs and add them to the beer. Finally, blend all the ingredients together with the meat and mix the sausage until the actomyosin forms a "meat paste". Place the meat into the freezer twenty minutes while you clean up your equipment. Finish by stuffing the sausage into 36 m.m. hog casings. This recipe is for "fresh" sausage and must be refrigerated and eaten within three days, or frozen. Remember the sausage maker`s first rule: If it can`t be cured - it can`t be smoked!

Cured-Cooked-Smoked Beer Brats

If you wish to cure and smoke the brats, simply add 2 level tspns. Prague Powder #1 to the liquid in the recipe for even distribution throughout the meat. Stuff the sausage into casings and hang them on smokesticks to dry half an hour. Preheat your smoker to 120°;F. (49°;C.) and then cook them slowly over a period of several hours, introducing thin smoke and raising the temperature only a couple of degrees every twenty minutes until the smokehouse temp reaches 165°;F. (74°;C.). When the internal meat temperature reaches 150°;F. (66°;C.), place the sausages in icewater until their temperature drops to room temperature. Refrigerate the brats and use them on the grill at your leisure.

Cooking Beer Brats On The Grill

Steam-cook the brats with beer until they are almost done, then finish them on a medium hot barbecue grill using lots of hickory smoke! Keep extra sausages hot in a pan of warm beer on the grill. Be careful not to burn the brats and for goodness sake - don`t stab them!

Best Wishes,

Posted: Mon Jun 06, 2011 19:23
by NorCal Kid
Hi Chuckwagon

thanks for posting this recipe. I found it a few days ago and decided, "I gotta make these!"

Here's some shots & commentary on my experience:

Got all the ingredients ready. Only change I made was the type of beer. We cant have wheat products in our house, so I had to use a gluten-free beer (Red Bridge) in place of the standard lager. Still a good tasting beer though.Decided these would smoked with apple wood so a cure would be added (2 level tsps).


Ground up 10 lbs of meat (pork butt, chuck & fat) & all the ingredients to form a meaty paste:

Stuffed into natural casings:

Hung to dry while the smoker is getting prepped:

Now HERE's where I had problems: Smoking meats in a june rainstorm posed some serious challenges. My smoker ran hot & I had a bear of a time keeping temps down under 185°. so after 90 minutes of this circus, I pulled the links from the smoker & plunged them into a hot bath (170°) to bring them up to an IT of 154° (took about 20 minutes).

Ice bath after the poach:

Wiped 'em down & let 'em dry (bloom):

They looked pretty darn good, so I tried one: DRY! DRY! DRY! Flavor was good but the texture was 'eraser-like' and very dry, almost crumbly. Not sure where I messed up but they sure lack for moisture. I'm certain my runaway smoker temps didnt help & probably contributed to some fat or moisture loss. This is the first time I've used SPC & i'm wondering if that contributed to the odd texture.

Anyways, I do like the flavor profile & just need to resolve where I messed up.
Had some brats with kraut & this really helped offset the dryness:


Posted: Mon Jun 06, 2011 22:43
by Chuckwagon
Hi NorCalKid,

Ouch! You inadvertantly "broke the collagen". This is a very common mistake by beginners so don`t feel badly. Shucks pard, I certainly threw out my share before I learned how to simply keep the temperature down. Ol` Rytek used to say, "sawdust - exactly like sawdust". The texture was horrible and crumbly and dry as granpappy`s ol` scalp!

Allow me to quote Rytek Kutas. I`m looking at his 3rd edition of "Great Sausage Recipes And Meat Curing". On page 69 he states, "The internal temperatures that have to be attained in sausage making are of extreme importance. Great care has to be taken, as it can mean the success or failure of the finished product. For the most part, 152°; F. is the internal temperature required in sausage recipes and meat formulas. It is equally important that the heat in the smoker does not exceed the specified temperatures. Do not exceed 160°; F."

He continues, "Smoking any kind of meat at 160°; F. until the internal temperature reaches 152°; F. is a slow process and can take many hours. It is easy to tell if the product has been overcooked. The casing will become full of liquid. Sausages shrivel and there will be grease all over the floor. Temperatures should be followed precisely."

On page 71, Rytek also states, "You can rest assured that when you see fat dripping from a salami or sausage in the smoker, you are overcooking the product. There is no question about this fact. When the product is finished, cooled, and sliced, it will usually crumble as the binding power of the fat has been lost."

So, NorCalKid... Now you know that fat also serves as a binder. When it "breaks" at about 160°; F. and becomes liquid at 170°; F., the sausage loses its binding power and its texture without that lubricating, creamy, white stuff, now becomes very much like dry sawdust. Toss is out and start again.

Your smokehouse temperature is way to high. You may want to review Stan`s most generous contribution at this link: ... at-smokers

A good smoker requires merely a trickle of smoke over a long period of time. If you are going to cook the sausage simultaneously, it MUST be raised merely a couple of degrees at a time, generally over the period of many hours.

Oh yes, about the beer. Why lager over pilsner? It`s all about fermenting. Most non-lager beers undergo a process called "top fermentation", whereby yeast floats on top of the wort (grain mashed in hot water), which is exposed to oxygen and kept warm. Oxygen and warmth persuade yeast to produce spicy, astringent flavor compounds called phenols and fruity, floral compounds called esters that are desirable in beer but not in food.
Lagers, on the other hand, undergo "bottom fermentation" where the yeast is kept submerged in the low-oxygen environment at the bottom of the wort at colder temperatures, which causes the yeast to produce fewer phenols and esters, so that the yeast and sulfur flavors come forward. (See "Cooks Illustrated" by America`s Test Kitchen - January-February 2008 / Page 19)

I also noticed that you mixed your soy protein concentrate in water. Next time, have your wife sprinkle it over the comminuted meat as your hands mix it into the ground mixture. Once it has absorbed the powder, then put the spices and cure into the mix.

OK ol` pard! Like my ol` pappy said, "Back up and hit it again". Shucks, I`m astounded that there were even cars around back then! But he was a wise ol` pappy too. He also once told me, "The man that doesn`t TRY... doesn`t do ANYTHING!

Best Wishes,

Posted: Tue Sep 13, 2011 06:03
by JerBear
I've been commissioned to help my local brewclub make 30 lbs of brats for their upcoming Oktoberfest and was looking for a resilient recipe for the ham-fisted home-brewers. They'll likely be poached then grilled to hell and back and I was concerned with the prevalence of milk, egg and heavy emulsification of standard brat recipes and this one intrigues me. What would be your thoughts on removal of the milk and eggs and upping the quantity of beer? Or dropping the beer and adding hops?

The ultimate concern, as earlier noted, is resilience.

Posted: Tue Sep 13, 2011 08:20
by Chuckwagon
Hi Jer, Thanks for asking... (I guess it is me that you`re asking). I grew up lactose intolerant. Until science came up with a great milk substitute, I just didn`t have bratwurst. I`ve had this recipe filed away for so long, I can`t remember where I got it to tell you the truth. I don`t think this is one of ol` Rytek`s. It is probably one of my Swiss family`s renegade horse-thief`s recipes, handed down from the old country. The soy protein is my addition and is put in as a binder. When I make the stuff, I have to use a milk substitute, but even then, I`ve never had a problem with these little guys. The first time I was able to eat one (not so many years ago actually), I really liked the addition of eggs and milk and was astounded by the contribution it made to an otherwise "ordinary" sausage.

Ok, you asked for my thoughts about the removal of the milk and eggs and adding more beer. I wouldn`t do it if I were you. The reason is because you wouldn`t have bratwurst any longer... you`d have something very close to English breakfast sausage. Classic bratwurst has always been made with milk and eggs. Without them, the sausage simply becomes some other "weenie".

Jer, I`ve got another thought here. Allow me to quote from Stan`s book, - HPQMS. On page 185 he writes: "It is mind boggling to see people clicking for hours and hours on a computer keyboard to find magic recipes on the internet, searching for the Holy Grail of sausage. Then when they find something they like, they mess it up by applying too high smoking or cooking temperatures. The recipe of course, gets the blame. Then they look for another magic recipe again." He then goes on to explain that a "recipe" does not imply that one will produce outstanding sausage. He writes, "Making quality sausages has little to do with recipes, it is all about the meat science and the rules that govern it."

Stan further explains that sausage making requires following all the little steps in the process correctly. He says it is just like a chain and is only as strong as its weakest link. Further, he says, "Each step influences the step that follows, and all those steps when performed correctly will, as a final result, create the quality product."

Any experienced sausage maker will tell you that it`s not what goes into a sausage that makes it great; rather it is HOW you make the thing that will classify it as "great". This recipe works. It has for years! However, its success depends on each individual correctly performing each little step. Stan is absolutely correct in stating that when someone screws up the process, the recipe usually get the blame.

So... don`t be afraid of milk and eggs in sausage that contains a little beer. Each is added for a specific reason - not just because of their flavors. Notice I said, a "little" beer. Don`t be one of those people who think, "if a little is good... then a lot must be better"! :shock: Just not so!

Why not give the recipe a try exactly as is? It has been proven and tried - over and over. Altering the ingredients won`t help it a bit. And altering the processing technique will certainly spell disaster. There`s only one reason this recipe did not work for NorCalKid - he overcooked it and "broke the collagen". Shucks pal, why not try a proven recipe? You just might succeed beyond your expectations if you follow the directions and don't start experimenting with a product your compadres are going to eat. Please let us know what you decide to do, and also how it turns out at the party.

Best Wishes,

Posted: Tue Sep 13, 2011 16:19
by JerBear
I had a co-worker say almost exactly what you said. I'm mostly concerned that I may not be there for the cooking end of things and they may over-cook them and break the emulsion. That's the big fear. I'll let you know what road was taken and (hopefully) post some pictures.

Posted: Tue Sep 13, 2011 17:32
by Bubba
NorCal Kid wrote:They looked pretty darn good, so I tried one: DRY! DRY! DRY! Flavor was good but the texture was 'eraser-like' and very dry, almost crumbly. Not sure where I messed up but they sure lack for moisture. I'm certain my runaway smoker temps didnt help & probably contributed to some fat or moisture loss.
Hi NorCal Kid, likewise from my end, I have been there with the same problem and am working to correct that.
It's like Chuckwagon said:- "Back up and hit it again".
My smoker is propane and the problem is obvious, the smoke heat source should not be inside. People will laugh at my initial contraption attempts to lower the temperature until realizing the smoker design is the problem. It was like walking a tightrope for hours trying to maintain a low temperature.

Either way, your sausages look very good. :grin:


Posted: Fri May 04, 2012 19:48
Howdy Ghuckwagon, good to see a fellow westerner in here, I am in Montrose Colorado, not far from you, I do have to correct you on your above post concerning the beer, Pilsner is a lager and is bottom fermented, the top fermenting beer is an Ale. I have been reading this forum for some time now, but just registered today to post. I am an avid sausage maker, do about 100 lbs a week, mostly with wild game, Elk, venison, have done a terific summer sausage with elk and wild turkey, i do alot of snack sticks and pepperonis, I look forward to chatting with you about sausages, Tim

Posted: Sat May 05, 2012 04:51
by Chuckwagon
Thanks Tim! Nice to have you with us. Been in Montrose many times. Threw a chain on my Harley there once. I was standing up when it happened. Had to change my britches when I dropped from 60 to 0 in just a few seconds. :shock:
Best Wishes,

Posted: Tue Nov 26, 2013 09:35
by markjass
Some recipes for the English Banger use double cream. I notice that this recipe uses heavy cream. I do not know what heavy cream is. Sad to say that I cannot get hold of double cream in NZ. I emailed FONTERRA who are NZ biggest dairy co-operative. One of their brands makes thickened craem they said this was the only option..

Single cream, also known as pouring cream, has a minimum fat content of 18 percent. It is homogenised and pasteurised and commonly used in sauces, desserts and soups.

Thickened cream is a whipping cream containing a thickener with a minimum fat content of 35 percent.

Peter Gordon ( ... d=10841357) a well known chef writes "For a nation like New Zealand, which produces so much dairy product, it is infuriating that we have had so little choice in the shops for butter, cream or varieties of locally made cheese" he goes on to write "the lack of varieties of cream, of all three products, is all the more baffling"

So do I use pouring or thickened cream or reduce cream by simmering it to an unknown consistancy.


Posted: Tue Nov 26, 2013 11:18
by markjass
Just looked up heavy cream online (should have done it earlier). It is the same as double cream. So what should I use as a replacement for heavy cream?

Posted: Tue Nov 26, 2013 17:02
Hi Mark, I would use what you are callimg thickened cream, our heavy cream, also known as whipping cream has between 36 and 40% milkfat, so your thickened cream should be the same,Tim

Posted: Tue Nov 26, 2013 17:44
by Bob K
Whilst some ingredients are critical, amounts and types of cure, salt content, as an example.

Others can easily be substituted or altered to ones taste or availability .

Whole (unprocessed) milk vs light cream vs heavy cream is an easy substitution and the results will be subtle.

Nutmeg vs mace is another example as is white vs black pepper.

Just remember a recipe is a theme and can be played different ways.

Posted: Fri Nov 29, 2013 20:26
by Shuswap
Question for CW or other technically minded suasage makers here. I'm getting ready to make the beer brats but waiting for my smoker to arrive otherwise I'll make fresh if it doesn't come next week. It has taken me 6 weeks and five cities/towns in the interior of our province to find a source for back fat but I got 5 lbs today :mrgreen: My question: what is the meat/fat ratio for the beer brats. :?: Instead of pork shoulder (butt) I'm using pork trim that my guy says is 85/15.

Posted: Sat Nov 30, 2013 07:57
by sawhorseray
Most porkbutt seems to go right around a 75/25 lean to fat ratio according to Rytec, tho things will vary here and there a bit. I like my sausages to have right about 22% fat, up to 25%. If what you have is 15% fat I don't think you can go wrong adding a bit more backfat to jack it up to 20% at least. Remember Fat = Flavor! A lack of fat in sausage means sawdustage. I'd rather have a little too much fat in sausage than not quite enough, makes a LOT of difference. Just my opinion, but I'd rather hear "this tastes a little fatty" than to see someone spit the stuff out because it's too dry. I'm in a state of confusion myself about Bratwurst, some recipes call for veal, and veal ain't for sausage. RAY