Local experts offer beer and brat pairing advice

Nate Niemeyer and Josh Boll of OSS Madison help...
Local experts offer beer and brat pairing advice
Nate Niemeyer and Josh Boll (Right).

Wisconsinites might not agree on the right way to cook a brat, but we sure know what goes best with one: beer.

Sometimes it’s just about washing down a savory brat with something cold, but sausage-centric eateries like OSS Madison have turned bratwurst and brews pairing into a serious enterprise. “We want to elevate the bratwurst,” says Josh Boll, one of the brat- and beer-loving guys behind the counter at OSS. And don’t get the wrong idea–Boll’s not trying to take the laid-back bratwurst and pump it up with pretension. He and OSS’s aim is to highlight flavors and bring out the best of both the brew and the brat. We asked Boll and OSS’s resident beer expert–staffer Nate Niemeyer, who’s been home brewing for seven years–for a few of their pairing suggestions, which resulted in this beginner’s guide to eating and imbibing right at OSS.

The Banh Mi
A Vietnamese pork sausage
You can’t go wrong with an American pale ale. The banh mi has a distinct flavor, which bounces well with the equally strong flavors of an APA. If hoppy brews aren’t your thing, a dry cider also goes well with this one–try the Island Orchard Cider made in Door County.

The Doner Kebab
A Turkish lamb and chicken sausage
Grab a German beer. “Normally in Europe, you drink too many beers and you need a doner kebab to save yourself,” Boll says. But a good German beer will balance out the spicy characteristics of this sausage. Boll and Niemeyer suggest a Capital Brewery Oktoberfest, New Glarus‘s Staghorn, Unshadowed by Ale Asylum, Vintage Brewing Company‘s Weissenau or a St. Francis Lust out of Milwaukee.

Chorizo Brat
Mexican-style chorizo bratwurst
Steer clear of hoppy beers … unless you really like spice. If you want to fire your tastebuds on all cylinders, reach for a Fantasy Factory by Karben4. Otherwise, stick with a milder ale or lager, like one of Waunakee Octopi Brewing Company‘s 3rd Sign varieties: Madagascar Vanilla Mild Ale or Sumatra Coffee Mild Ale.

Smoked Bratwurst
Bold-flavored brat with spice
Go for a dark brew, like a porter, stout or bock. Dark beers in general go well with anything smoked, including a smoked Polish sausage or an andouille, which is a Cajun smoked pork sausage.

Veal Brat
Related to the Swiss Kalberwurst sausage
You’ll want something that balances the fattiness of the veal sausage, so an IPA is best. “It’ll cut through the richness of the brat and contrast that flavor nicely,” Niemeyer says.