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Brat Tub Tailgating

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4.32 from 85 votes
The Wisconsin brat tub combines three local faves: Brats, mustard, and beer (remember, Milwaukee was once the beer capital of the nation).

Serve with: American lager.

Main Course


Servings: 6 sandwiches


Cook Time: 1 hour


  • 6 brats
  • 6 bratwurst/sausage buns (try for something better than pasty hot dog buns)
  • 2 12-ounce bottles of inexpensive American lager beer, like Old Milwaukee
  • 1 12-ounce bottle high quality German lager
  • 2 medium onions
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup Kansas City style barbecue sauce
  • 1/4 cup Dijon-style mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
About the buns. In Wisconsin they sell "sausage rolls" or "sausage buns" which are thicker, firmer, and have a more substantial crust than a hot dog bun. They make a difference.
About the ketchup. You can substitute Kansas City style barbecue sauce for the ketchup.
About the hot sauce. I usually use Tabasco Chipotle flavored sauce. Add more if you wish.
Optional. Add 1/4 teaspoon of liquid smoke.
Metric conversion:

These recipes were created in US Customary measurements and the conversion to metric is being done by calculations. They should be accurate, but it is possible there could be an error. If you find one, please let us know in the comments at the bottom of the page


  • Fire up. Set up the grill for 2-zone cooking. Open the high quality beer and drink it while you are cooking. This is the way it is done in Wisconsin. You cannot cook unless you are drinking.
  • Cook. Use a pan (you can use a disposable aluminum pan) for the brat tub. Dump in the cheap American lager and bring it to a simmer on the grill or side burner. Most brats come curved. Bend and flex them so they are close to straight. They are easier to turn on the grill and they fit the buns better when they are straight, allowing more room for the sauce. Add the brats to the beer and simmer for about 15 minutes to absorb flavor. Roll the brats around if they are not covered in beer and simmer 15 minutes per side.
    Bratwurst on the grill
  • Remove the brats and grill them over high heat just enough to get some brown onto the skin. Just a minute or three on each side. I like to lay them between the grates so they are easier to turn. Yes, I know the grill marks are going the wrong way, but this way I don't incinerate one side.
  • Prep. While the brats are grilling, the onions in to half rings. Add the butter, hot sauce, BBQ sauce, mustard, onions, in the pan with the beer. Stir.
  • Cook again. Put the hot tub on the hot side of the grill or if you have a fancy side burner you can use that. If you wish, you can even make the sauce indoors. Cook it down to a gloppy sauce. This will take 20 to 30 minutes. If the brats finish before the sauce, and they will, just hold them aside. They should read at least 160°F in the center on a good digital thermometer.
  • Lower the heat on a gas grill or place the brat tub with sauce on the indirect side of a charcoal grill. Slip the brats into the tub and coat with sauce.
    Bratwurst in liquid with onions
  • Open the buns and place them cut side down on the indirect side of the grill to warm and toast slightly. Go ahead, butter them first if you like. I like. When the buns are on, do not walk away. They can go from toasted to black in a minute. If a corner does burn, you can scrape it off easily.
  • Serve. Serve the brats on the buns with the onions and the sauce. Not too much sauce, you want to taste the brats. Serve World's Easiest Potato Salad or German Potato Salad on the side. Serve warm sauerkraut with caraway seeds on the side too. Or heap them on top of the brat. And don't forget the beer. Put extra brats back in the sauce on a warm, but not the hot part of the grill. Three words: Beer Cheese dip!
  • George Gates of Memphis wrote me to suggest that a fourth Wisconsin food group can be incorporated in this recipe: "Yes, it's almost two in the morning, we've been drinking, and, as in all great discoveries, necessity is a mother! Take the leftovers from the Wisconsin Brat Tub, heat them up, and mix in about two cups (not exact measurments) of grated sharp cheddar cheese. Instant beer cheese dip! Ritz and Saltines worked well, as did some rosemary soda crackers."