“Tap & Table” is our ode on the glory of food and beer, written by our resident foodie, C. Yellow Robe. Sometimes Yellow Robe cooks with beer. Sometimes he’s pairing with beer. But there’s always food! Stick around and you’re bound to get some great culinary ideas, recipes and craft beer suggestions.

August. The last full month of summer. A sad time for kids, soon to be trudging back to school, but for NFL fans it means preseason football! While very few fans actually pay much attention to these preseason games, it’s a good excuse to get back into MVP tailgating and game day party form.

Let’s focus on a grilling staple: The brat. Did you know that by the time the average male in Wisconsin is 30 years old he’s eaten some nine-thousand bratwurst? Of course you didn’t, you couldn’t have because I made that statistic up! Despite my fib, brats are extremely popular in Wisconsin, ranking only slightly behind cheese, beer, and the Green Bay Packers. With that in mind, it should come as no surprise that they have truly perfected cooking these sausages.

Typically, brats are parboiled in cheap beer before being thrown on the grill. The Wisconsin twist is to grill your brats first and then simmer them in beer, assuring maximum beer infusion. Genius! But of course, since we’re in Bellingham we can give this technique the added benefit of using very high quality, local ingredients! I’ll talk more about that below. Here’s what you’ll need:

      1. Brats: Sure, you’re free to buy regular old Johnsonville
        Brats from the grocery store, or you could do what I did when I made these the other day: Buy fresh sausages. I got mine from Carne, and I loved the sharp aromatic spices in their brats. Also, don’t prick them! You’ll lose a lot of flavor if you do.
      2. Beer: The biggest tip I can offer here is, please, don’t use cheap crappy beer! I mean, the whole point of this method is getting as much beer into your sausage as possible. You don’t want your bratwurst to taste like Milwaukee’s Best do you? I highly suggest a good lager, and probably don’t even need to mention that Chuckanut’s Pilsner, winner of many awards and medals, is a fantastic choice do I? Plan for extra to wash down your brats!

        Sheboygan Hardroll

      3. Buns: The most celebrated bun to use in America’s Dairyland is the Sheboygan Hardroll. These buns are slightly crusty on the outside and tender on the inside. I don’t know of a local bun that fits this bill, but if you do I’d love to hear about it.
      4. Onions: One or two. Slice them and simmer along with your brats.
      5. Butter: I like to add a tablespoon to the brats as they simmer. Reserve some to spread on your toasted or grilled buns.

It’s all pretty straightforward from this point. Grill your brats, preferably over charcoal if you can, focusing on getting lots of color and not allowing them to burst. We’re not too concerned with cooking them fully here, they’ll have plenty of time for that as they simmer. Get the beer and onions prepared and heating up just before putting the brats on the grill. That way your sausages go from flame to simmering immediately. You can either use a regular pot for the simmer, or slow cooker set to low. I like to simmer for at least an hour, though you certainly can (and I often do) go longer.

Once you deem your brats ready, toast your buns and assemble. Add whatever condiments you like, keeping mind that those onions that just sat cooking in beer surrounded by brats, make a brilliant addition. That’s it, there’s only one thing left to do now: prepare yourself to enjoy the compliments of your guests and better yet, some damn fine bratwurst!