Beer, Brats, Battlestar Galactica

Backyard barbecues are the Summer of George equivalent to the organized, elegant dinner parties you throw (or plan to throw) during the Winter. And they’re better. Tables are nice, but it’s considered peculiar to wear denim cutoffs and a wet bathing suit to a dinner party. At a barbecue? That’s formalwear.

If you want to do it the Wisconsin way, which is a very good way, you need to learn the art of the beer-boiled brat. This is a Summer staple, but also a regular attendee at tailgates and Oktoberfests. Learn it now and love it forever.

Photo courtesy of Johnsonville

Photo courtesy of Johnsonville

There’s no magic to making these, only in experiencing them. Here’s how:


  • Brats (I do one per female person, two per male person – though nothing but love and solidarity for the hungry gals out there)
  • Buns – some people are fresh roll purist, but I’ve never found anything I like more than cheap, generic hot dog buns. Make sure they’re big enough lengthwise for a good bread-to-brat ratio in each bite, but not so big that they overwhelm the main event.
  • Beer – pick a good, beer-y beer. I like Lakefront Brewery’s Wisconsinite or Leinenkugel’s Wisconsin Red Pale Ale. Purists swear by PBR. Purists are hipsters with ironic mustaches.
  • Onions – two, white, yellow or one of each.
  • Mustard – preferably brown or Dijon, though there ain’t nothing wrong with French’s yellow.
  • Butter

Start by putting the brats in the beer in a wide skillet. Pour in enough beer so that the brats are covered, but not completely drowning – we don’t waste beer in these parts, my friends. Cover, and bring to a boil.

While the brats are boiling, dice the onions to a length of your choosing – I like thin, long pieces, others prefer full rings or thicker, short pieces.

After 5 – 7 minutes, remove the brats from the boiling beer and set aside on a plate. Pour out ½ - ¾ of the beer, so that there’s enough to coat the bottom of the pan. Without removing from heat, add butter to the beer mix, and add the onions and some salt. Stir frequently until onions are soft and yellow or brown to your preference – you’re the boss of your onions.

Take the brats out to the grill, which you have obviously been heating up, and cook until you have your desired degree of char. The brats will be mostly cooked through from the boiling, so if you don’t like a charred brat, add a minute or two to the boiling time and throw in a warm oven while you cook the onions.


What Kind of Brats Can I Use?

You’re an adult! You can choose whatever you like! But I prefer Nueske’s or Usingers if you’re in Wisconsin. If you’re not, as the Barefoot Contessa would say, “store-bought will do” (and I prefer Johnsonville).

Can I Use Cheddar Brats?

Of course. More cheese never makes anything worse.

Can I Put Ketchup on a Brat?

You’re an adult! You can! But it won’t be as good. I SAID MUSTARD.


That’s not a question, that’s an answer. Swap for onions. You’re a real Wisconsinite now.