The History of Beer Brats – How Did They Get So Popular?

Beer brats are a necessity for tailgating parties, Super Bowl parties, and backyard barbecues across the nation. Who came up with the first beer brat, and what makes them so popular today? Here, you can learn everything you’ve ever wanted to know about one of the nation’s most iconic foods.

What Is a Bratwurst?

Traditionally, bratwurst is a sausage that is made of beef, veal, or more commonly pork (and sometimes a combination of these.) It’s enclosed in a natural casing, and it is usually boiled and then grilled or pan-seared before serving. This sausage is especially popular in the Northeast, though people all across the United States consider them a necessity for barbecues and tailgates. Bratwurst can be made from different types of meats and seasonings, though the traditional brat is seasoned with fresh marjoram to give it its distinct and recognizable flavor.   

The World’s First Bratwurst

Like many of the sausages that are commonplace in the United States today, the bratwurst is of European descent. There’s evidence to suggest the first bratwurst was made in Germany, especially since the name itself comes from the German words “brat”, which means finely-chopped meat, and “wurst”, which means sausage. Its first mention comes from the city of Nuremberg, Germany, which is still known around the world as one of the foremost producers of grill sausages in the world.

From Germany to Wisconsin

Arguably, if you ask anyone which state started the bratwurst revolution right here in the United States, Wisconsin will be the answer. The brats here in the US were originally brought to the country by German immigrants, who would cook them much like Americans cook hot dogs today. It was in Milwaukee in 1954 that brats were introduced to the Milwaukee County Stadium during a baseball game that they really took off; since that time, they’ve been a staple in sporting events, both live and at home. In fact, even today, Miller Stadium in Milwaukee sells more brats that hot dogs, on average, during baseball games – and it’s the only stadium in the country that can make that claim.

What Makes a Bratwurst a Beer Brat?

Many foods have “beer” in the name, but beer brats are some of the most iconic. These are nothing more than sausages that have been boiled in beer before grilling or roasting. Sometimes, you can find beer brats that are already prepared and ready for the grill. Other times, it’s beneficial to prepare your own beer brats from your favorite brew. Most commonly, adding onions to beer and boiling the bratwurst in this solution is the way to go, and it creates a unique savory flavor profile that Americans absolutely adore.

Whether you call them brats or bratwurst, there’s no doubt that beer brats are by far some of the most popular sausages in the Northeast and across the country. The next time you enjoy a brat at a ballgame, on your couch while watching a game, or even in your backyard, you can thank the German immigrants who brought this sausage to the US centuries ago.

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