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Jul 3, 2008 01:21 PM

Beer Brats: soak first then grill, or other way around?

We plan on having brats and German potato salad tomorrow, among other things, and I can't find a consensus on the best way to make Wisconsin-style beer brats on the web. Most recipes call for a very similar beer soaking mixture, with mustard, beer, and onions--the contention arises over whether the brats should be gently simmered first and then grilled, or grilled first and then gently simmered. The latter seems a bit weird to me, but many claim that this method is best. What are your opinions? Perhaps the best thing to do would be to try both methods and then see which I prefer, but I'd rather not potentially waste some porky goodness.

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  1. I simmer them in pilsner beer with sliced onion, and then grill them as needed.

    1. simmer the brats in a bath of guinness and thinly sliced onions for 20 minutes or so then grill the brats on all sides. (grill marks are mandatory). don't waste the onions. throw 'em in a pan and simmer them down. a good mustard is, well, good.

      1. I braise my porky goodness in a fine German dark beer, dijon mustard, thinly sliced sweet onion and a bay leaf until the beer is a syrupy mess! Like steveh, I feel that grill marks are mandatory & I also toss the onions minus the bay leaf into a pan on the grill and serve over the brats in a good roll, which is another key componet, please don't use hot dog rolls! That's a crime. Cheers!

        1. Card carrying Badger here and I never heard of grilling first and soaking later. That's just weird and wrong. Everyone had the right idea, simmer in beer (to be authentic you need to use a fine Miller product) with lots of onions and I add lots of chopped garlic as well. Simmer for 20 min or so then grill til stripy and crispy. Steve H is exactly right when he says don't waste those beautiful onions! Boil them down and serve on top of da brats in a hard roll slathered with brown mustard, not that wimpy yellow stuff. Dat's da best, aina hey!

          2 Replies
          1. re: ajcraig

            Thanks to all who've responded so far. You've confirmed what I thought. If anyone is interested in the grill-first-then-soak thing, there is some discussion here (click on the reviews):


            And here Steven Raichlen advocates what he calls the "bratwurst hot tub":


            It seems as though this method is intended to keep the brats warm if guests will be eating them at different times--maybe at a tailgating party or something?

            1. re: diva360

              Keeps'em from drying out if they're gonna sit for a while. I've noticed this is done mostly at neighborhood festivals where all the brats get done at once but the service is slow. The after-bath should not be boiling, just good and hot. I did it myself one time when it was very cold, out on my front porch in Nashville, and I needed to keep those babies hot while I toasted the rolls, so I just moved the beer bath over to the cooler end.

          2. a million ways to grill a brat and most of them work.

            just a thought: if feeding a bunch of people, consider keeping the brats in the beer/onion bath at a very low temperature until needed and then grill 'em. the purpose of grilling, in my opinion, is to dry the skin and crisp it up a bit. throwing a grilled brat back into the beer/onion pan would wreck that crispy goodness.

            just my $0.02.