The Great Brat Challenge - Bracketology
This is a rundown of the bracket results from Sunday's Great Brat Challenge. There were numerous surprises, well beyond ALDI's second place finish.
This is the final list of bratwurst entries.
- Christman Meat
- Eden Meat Market
- Glenn’s Market
- Jacobson Bros.
- J.L. Richards
- Karl’s Country Market
- Kramarczuk's (from Minneapolis)
- Loehr's Meat Service
- Mr. Baseball's Brats (made for Uke by Usinger's)
- Ray's Meats
- Ream's Elburn Market (from Elburn, IL)
- RJ's Meats
- Roseland Bratwurst - aka, Mystery Brats II - aka, ALDI brats
- Roundy's - aka, Mystery Brats
- Sausage Haus
- Schmeisser's Homemade Sausages (from Niles, IL)
- Sendik's Fine Foods
- Sheboygan Brat Company
- Spar's (from Buffalo, NY)
- Thuringer Meats (from Arlington Heights, IL)
The poultry brat participants were:
- Glenn’s Market Turkey Brats
- Karl’s Country Market Turkey Brats
- Miesfeld’s Chicken Brats
- RJ's Meats Chicken Brats
The voting at the taste-off was conducted as a blind tasting. Each bratwurst was cut into several bite-size pieces and my guests sampled 3 or 4 at a time and voted for their favorite. The samples were unadorned by bun or condiments, so the results are not reflective of what you eat around your backyard grill.
I should have limited the amount of samples in the first round, because my judges quickly were filled up and became rather sick of bratwurst by the final round. The taste-off took 5 hours from the first tasting until the championship vote was cast.
An analysis of the results follows. "Champion Bratwurst"
This exercise in insanity began with my wanting to pit 4 bratwurst makers that advertise themselves as "Champion" in one form or another. The four are Glenn's Market, Karl's Country Market, Miesfeld's and RJ's Meats. Of these four "Champions," only RJ's advanced out of the first round. Both Karl's and Glenn's missed advancing by one vote, Karl's losing to Mr. Baseball and Glenn's losing to Usinger's. You can read whatever you want into Usinger's producing Mr. Baseball's Brats.
Of special note is Miesfeld's, often held up as the standard for bratwurst excellence in Wisconsin, and more importantly, in Sheboygan. Miesfeld's received only one vote in its first round heat. Mass Produced Brats
Johnsonville, Roundy's, Klement's, Usinger's, Mr. Baseball, Roseland, and Sheboygan Brat Co. are what I consider mass produced brats. Surprising to me, many of these did well against the specialty sausage makers, with all but Johnsonville and Roundy's advancing from the first round. Both Roseland and Sheboygan Brat Co. made it to the finals, and Usinger's missed advancing by one vote.
Johnsonville, like their Sheboygan County neighbor Meisfeld's, deserves special recognition for receiving only 2 votes, less than even the storebrand Roundy's received. High-End Grocery Brats
I have 3 brats that I would include in this category - Sendik's, Gooseberry's, and J.L. Richards. They are from the meat section of grocers/caterers, not from a stand-alone butcher or sausage maker. I found all three of these to be forgettable, although Gooseberry's did advance to the second round. Flatlander Bratwurst
Perhaps this is a preview of the results of this week's Packers-Bears game. Of the 3 brat entries from Illinois - Ream's, Schmeisser's and Thuringer - none advanced out of the first round.
Ream's bratwurst held a special distinction in yesterday's contest. Of the 30 different competitors, Ream's was the only bratwurst to receive 0 votes. ZERO!
A complete shutout.
Ream's calls themselves "F
ratwurst." Indeed, no better description is possible! Flying Sausages
The poultry brats were disdained by the meat eaters yesterday with one exception. Karl's Country Market's turkey brats were judged to be the best and were described as the most like a pork bratwurst. The Champion
By the time the final rolled around, I let a few of my non-voting helpers know that ALDI had advanced this far. When the voting commenced, it was clear that Roseland (ALDI) and Schwai's were the clear leaders. I asked Brad Olson to taste some samples just in case there was a tie.
When the votes were counted, Roseland and Schwai's were deadlocked. Brad cast his vote for Schwai's (he did not know the brat identities) and Buddy showed up late and chose Schwai's. Thusly, a Badger State cultural tragedy even exceeding Brett Favre in a purple jersey was averted. Wrap-up
It was a super event, but never again. In this format it took too long to complete and I was on the verge of losing control a couple times (I misplaced my numbered entry list once which was needed to decipher the numbered results). Hopefully, these results will provide you some guidance when you go shopping for encased meats.
<message edited by JRPfeff on Tue, 09/8/09 8:46 PM>