A classic combination. This weekend I helped my buddy Bill cook and serve a snout-to-tail pig dinner. The two of us are part of a group of homebrewing chefs called Eating About Beer that concerns itself with making and pairing good beer and good food. You can read what Bill had to say about our debut dinner last November here. All the photos on this page are the work of the photographer and gourmand Phil.
Anyway, when you’re wondering how to eat sauerkraut, or what to eat with sauerkraut, bratwurst is quick to come to mind. For the dinner, Bill stuffed his own with a mix of ground pork shoulder, eggs, a bit of cream, and traditional spices. He set slices on fresh, drained kraut that had fermented for two weeks, and topped them with yellow and black mustard seeds that had simmered for 45 minutes in a mix of water, sugar, and vinegar. The creamy mustard you see on the plate is a mix of Dijon and marzen beer from Gordon Biersch, which we also served with the dish.
This beer has a good story. In German, “marzen” means “March”, which, before refrigeration in Germany and Austria, was the last month before the summer in which it was cool enough to brew beer. To survive the hot months, marzens would be sealed in caves and cellars with blocks of ice. The brewers would also preserve the brew by adding extra malt to boost its alcohol content. The brown beer that resulted was richer and stronger than your usual lager and would be consumed until Oktoberfest, where it is still drunk between bites of (you guessed it) bratwurst. Its malty, biscuit-like flavor cuts through the fatty sausage without overwhelming its flavor.
Here’s one more pic, just for fun.