While the Germans end their Oktoberfest by the 3rd of October, we here in the States tend to extend it far beyond that date, and why not? Who can’t get behind a month or more of swilling brews and eating heartily?
So, as we raise our glasses we must also fill our bellies, and we can certainly get behind chowing down on many of the traditional German foods like pretzels, red cabbage, sauerkraut, and spaetzle. However, we were particularly excited to find that some locals are cooking up their own versions of another popular German tradition - sausage. From spicy to mild, with infusions from beer to local spices, this is what to pair with your brews this month (and beyond!).
Currently, there are three varieties of this succulent sausage on the market: Balto Brats, Latitude 18, and Porto. The Baron website promises more to come, and after trying these, we are certainly looking forward to that.
Infused with Poe inspired lager from Baltimore Washington Beer Works, the Balto Brats are a mild but appropriate choice to pay culinary homage to the Germans that brought both sausages and beer, en masse, to Charm City many years ago. Lay these beautiful brats in a soft bun and complement them with some zesty yellow or spicy brown mustard, or slice them up and mix into some sauerkraut for the best side dish (or main) at your next dinner party or autumn cookout.
If you’re looking to add some heat to your plate while you settle into the cooler months, grill up some Latitude 18 sausages. This orange liqueur infused goodness is the perfectly balanced blend of slight sweetness with the spiciness of Caribbean flavors. We like the idea of throwing this bad boy on a bun with some peppers and onions, or serving it on its own with a hearty side dish like potato salad. Slice thinly on the bias, and you’ll find yourself with a beautiful, tasty topping for homemade pizza.
Porto is a variety that pays homage to the Portuguese, layering flavors of ruby port with traditional spices to create a complex sausage worthy of flying solo with your favorite accompaniments on the plate, or being tossed in a bright pasta dish.
Baltimore native Rich Shores, the Sausage Baron himself, produces his small batch fresh pork sausage out of a facility in Lanham, MD where the focus is on using sustainable ingredients to create preservative free sausage products.
These sausages can be found at many of the local farmer’s markets; retail locations are still in the works. That said, we were lucky enough to get a pro tip from the Barons themselves in an interaction on Facebook in which they let us know that they were getting ready to take some stock to Fleet Street Market where we did find them for $11.50 per package.
Here’s our own pro tip: If you want to cook up these sausages, be prepared that they come frozen and need time for thawing. However, since they are preservative free, once thawed, sausages must be cooked within a few days to ensure food safety.
This Delaware based brewer never fails to disappoint when it comes to “off-centered” surprises, and their line of sausages, created in conjunction with Hans All Natural, follows suit. Infused with a variety of unexpected or unique flavors, these links pack a flavor punch well worth the $6.99 price tag per package.
Like Sausage Barons, Dogfish Head also produces a beer infused brat and it is equally mild and satisfying, as a proper bratwurst should be. Dogfish Head uses their Raison D’etre, a strong Belgian Dark Ale, for flavor and rounds it out with spices like coriander, white pepper, and mace for a brat that bites back when you bite in (in a good way!). Eat these brats as you would eat any brat - enthusiastically and with your favorite local brew.
Out of all of the sausages we tried, it might be Dogfish Head’s Spicy Espresso Brat that piqued our interest the most. These darker than expected chicken based links had us drooling at the thought of the deep flavors that had to be imparted through the infusion of their chocolatey and smooth Chicory Stout, as well as the espresso powder, as we fired them up in a cast iron skillet on the stove top.
Obsessed with the ideas of those rich flavors, we definitely forgot about the “spicy” part in the name, but were pleasantly surprised when we bit in to find the rich flavor profile we expected, paired with a pleasant hit of heat from habanero. We’d fire these up on their own or for any dish in which you welcome a spicy sausage but they are particularly perfect to serve for guests that shy away from pork.
Dogfish Head founder’s Sam Calagione’s Midas Touch infused Italian Heirloom Sausage is a pork based link that incorporates fennel and red pepper to create an authentic Italian sausage with layered flavor profiles. While we also cooked these up on the stovetop in a cast iron skillet, we’re imagining a version in which they are slow cooked with some spicy peppers and onions would liven up many tailgate or home football parties this fall and winter!
We were lucky enough to stumble upon these three varieties at Harris Teeter at the new Canton Crossing shopping center, but these clever folks do make a fourth variety (Greek Feta) that we’re pretty excited to try as well. Dogfish Head’s website claims these treats can be found at 50 retailers around the country including Whole Foods, Kings Food Markets, Balducci's, Food Bazaar, Harris Teeter and Murphys Markets so we’ll be on the lookout for that fourth variety (as well as some of those pickles and that chowder the brewery says they’re making, now, too!).
Pro tip: The Dogfish Head sausages are all fully cooked. Requiring only the sear or grill marks that you want them to have, these can be a quick weeknight meal.
There are lots of other local sausages to nosh on this fall (we always love the classic local Ostrowski’s sausages in our sauerkraut or stuffing for Thanksgiving, and Baltimore based Roma Sausage is making waves with flavors including Old Bay and Natty Boh, as well as a new chicken sausage, that are all perfect on the grill) so get out to your local markets and retailers to get your tongs on some sausages to sear, slow cook, or grill this October. Prost!
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