BBQ brats simmered with beer and sauerkraut

The first time I tried making these it was a disaster. I came across the idea in a book about American BBQ and decided to bust it out at a mate’s shindig last weekend having given the recipe next to no thought whatsoever; pretty much the opposite of the way I usually approach things. This, combined with the fact we were extremely full from ploughing through a plate of summer rolls, a pile of razor clams and two gigantic bone in rib eyes meant my poor dawgs didn’t stand a chance. We didn’t even get around to tackling my tub of Boston baked beans. Criminal.

I never give up on a recipe though unless I know it’s a total dud. This could never be a dud because THE SAUSAGES ARE SIMMERED IN BEER. Last night, I decided, was the night to conquer the wurst so I went out, bought 2 kinds of sausage, hooked up my umbrella over the BBQ and started paying some damn good attention to detail.

The first time, I’d used bratwurst from LIDL (recommendation from Twitter) and, although I’m no stranger to the delights of Mystery Meat, I think it’s fair to say they weren’t for me. I decided to settle on a comparison of a different bratwurst (Sainsbury’s, still mysterious but somehow tastier) and traditional hot dog – the wurst emerging as clear winner for it’s ability to suck up much more beer. A standard hot dog tastes the same no matter what you do to it, apparently. It needs to be dark beer, by the way, no lager or cider; the latter I tried the first time, with rubbish results. I used Newcastle Brown as that’s all they had in the local shop; you don’t need to go using Brewdog Tokyo or anything, but it would be fun to experiment.

Sauerkraut and onions flavour the sausage and are then strained and caramelised, themselves sticky and saturated with booze. The snap of the wurst is followed by their delicious sweet and sharp balance. A bobbing scotch bonnet left a tantalising tingle on the lips; the Peckham influence. An artful squeeze of mild French’s mustard to finish. Unless you want to add ketchup too of course – I did and I highly recommend it.

BBQ brats simmered with beer and sauerkraut

4 bratwurst (I found the ones available in Sainsbury’s to be perfectly acceptable but I’m sure there’s a whole world of wurst waiting to be discovered)
1 onion, sliced in half moons
6-8 tablespoons sauerkraut
3 tablespoons brown sugar
A splash of white wine vinegar or other vinegar
1 bottle dark beer of your choice (I used Newcastle Brown Ale but be as adventurous as you like)

To serve

Hot dog buns
French’s mild and sweet or similar American-style mustard

You will need a disposable foil tray to cook the brats on the BBQ; these are available in supermarkets or hardware shops.

Get your BBQ hot. When the flames have died down and the coals are grey, it’s time to cook your brats. Prick them several times to allow the beer to penetrate. Put them in the tray with 2 tablespoons of the sugar, the sauerkraut, onion and beer. Put the tray on the BBQ then put the lid on and let cook for 15 minutes, turning them halfway through if not completely submerged in the beer mixture.

After this time, remove the brats from the liquid and put them directly on the BBQ grill to get some char. While they are charring, carefully remove the tray and strain the liquid into a bowl. At this point I tried to caramelise the onions and sauerkraut back in the tray on the BBQ but then gave up as it took too long (and it was raining). I chucked them in a saucepan with the remaining tablespoon of sugar and the vinegar and let them sizzle while I toasted the buns. I got the boyfriend to watch the brats on the BBQ. Makes them feel useful, innit.

To serve, dollop a heap of sauerkraut and onions into each bun, followed by a brat. Squeeze mustard and ketchup on top. Stuff into face.

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19 thoughts on “BBQ brats simmered with beer and sauerkraut

  1. If you fancy a more traditional edge then it’s worth investing in German dark beer, paprika, mustard and authentic sausages. It really will make a difference as they have a distinct taste. I buy my German/Austrian ingredients from Kipfel in Islington ( or the German Deli next to Borough Market (

    German dark beer is called Dunkel Beer and is either lager or white beer (wheat) but I think either would do. Look for Kotanyi paprika in silver packets. Be careful when you buy Brats as some have cheese in them (Kasekrainer). Mustard is a mind field as the Germans love mustard. I like the one with horseradish in it.

    If you can’t make it to either of the places above, Waitrose do good quality Brats, sell Dunkel beer, Hungarian paprika (A close substitute) and German mustard.

  2. Have tried the bigger Lidl brats like yours but prefer the smaller ones they used to do. I couldn’t find the smaller ones the last time I looked.

    Aldi brats are next on the to try list.

  3. i made the bbb again (as you know!) but used lidl smoked bacon bits this time (still can’t get smoked pork belly) and still put in smoked paprika and it was great… don’t know if the lidl bacon wld have supplied enough smokiness.

    Great smoked bacon product to keep eye out for though is Gubeen Smoked Cheese & Bacon from Schull in West Cork. Think they’re supplying stores in UK… it’s divinely smokey.

  4. Ah, forgive me but I didn’t know that treacle was that important to it. The recipe called for “salt pork, pancetta or unsmoked streaky bacon” – I used a gammon joint diced, as that is what I had in the fridge (waste not, want not).
    I’ll shall have to try your recipe next time I make it.

    Hooray for beans indeed!!!!!

  5. Ahhhh I see. I thought you meant you’d used my recipe which was making me worried – thought I’d left something out of the recipe instructions or something! In that case, no idea what went wrong but if they still tasted good then hooray! hooray for beans!

  6. It was probably the lack of treacle that made it look different from the picture. It wasn’t as dark as I think it should look, however apart from that I don’t think it went too badly. The recipe I used was from Hugh Fearnly-Whittingstall’s Meat Book.

  7. Yeah the treacle is pretty essential as that’s what makes them ‘Boston’ baked beans – the malty flavour. The smoked paprika will definitely help if you can’t get your hands on smoked pork belly, which I assume you couldn’t? The smoked pork belly is very um, smoky.

  8. These look awesome. But I live abroad and cannae get decent sozzers. Have to wait until I come home.

    Incidentally, in case anyone cares, I made the Boston Baked Beans the other day. My oven wasn’t working though, so I did them on the hob until the liquid had thickened right up and they were still amazing. Didn’t get the dark crust, but still had loads of amazing flavour.

    Only thing I did differently was added a bit of smoked paprika, and sweated off the onions and garlic first. Next time I think I’d use a bit less sugar too as they were a touch (but only a touch) sweet for me.

    Thanks for an amazing recipe (and blog).

  9. Hi Gary,

    Let’s try and work out what might have gone wrong; do you have any idea when things started to go awry? What was wrong with the finished product?

  10. Hi,

    They look amazing, instantly reminded me of the Great British Menu when there was a BBQ beer chicken.

    Slightly off the point, I made some Boston baked beans yesterday but not sure I got it right – though it did taste great. Any tips for special ingredients? (Beside the obvious, beans)

  11. FABULOUS. Reminds me a bit of how they cook the Icelandic hot dogs- (the best I’ve ever had)- they braise them in beer too. What absolutely takes those over the edge for me is the combination of soft cooked onions with some crispy fried ones (even if it’s just fried shallots from an Asian supermarket). Insanely good, I promise.

  12. Sausages soaked in beer – this will win me massive brownie points with the BF! Great looking pictures too. Now we just need a little sunshine and I’ll get the BBQ out…

  13. another fab receipe Helen – though I had to smile at “I got the boyfriend to watch the brats on the BBQ”… :-)

    Making me v. hungry.

  14. My goodness they SOUND amazing!

    (cannot SEE as our IT department flagged flickr as ‘social networking’ and hence blocked its content – how ridiculous!)

    Either way, absolutely on my bbq list – love all things sauerkraut!

  15. I’ve never even thought about approaching sausages like this on a BBQ. Sounds a great idea to feed lots of people (i wonder if a bit of mesquite or cherrywood chucked on the coals would work well as well – or even simmering in Dr Pepper?). This may very well be next on my list as my wife keeps on maintaing i’m being overambitious with what i’m cooking (my latest blog post was nearly an epic fail)

  16. Helen these look fabulous! I wish I had known that this was YOU on Monday! We’ve been acquaintances for years through Oak Cottage and on UK Food Bloggers Assoc., but just now made the connection! DUH! So sad for an opportunity missed!


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