Part 2 of our tailgating/game day roundtable is below. Part 1, where we discuss which bars are best to go to on game day can be found here.
What are your ideal brat toppings? Which brand of brat is best? Or do you prefer a different tailgating food option?
Bob: Personally, I like to switch up the brat toppings. I know ketchup is a controversial topping, and I like it occasionally. Maybe once during a season I’ll go ketchup and sweet relish. Likewise, I’ll leave my sausage fully exposed once each season.
The rest of the time, I put mustard on my brat. I prefer a good stone ground mustard (two tablespoons). Next is spicy brown (one tbsp). Düsseldorf is acceptable from time to time (one tbsp), and yellow is an emergency-only mustard.
If there is good kraut available, I’m going to put a reasonable amount on. Maybe two tablespoons.
I’m not too particular about the brand of brat. However, I want my brat FRESH. A lot of the brats in the grocery store are frozen or have been frozen. That really brings down the quality. Going to a butcher is worth it.
In my opinion, a brat should never be boiled except when cooking for a large group (this helps makes sure they’re all cooked). Instead, a brat should be grilled with indirect heat. Fill a foil pan with a can or two of light beer and put it on the charcoal grate below the brats. I’m not a fan of propane grills, so I can’t speak to cooking brats on a gas grill.
Another nice option is kabobs. I like using the Weber BBQ seasoning with ingredients like: bacon wrapped chicken or pork chunks, portobello mushrooms, red onions, sweet bell peppers, fingerling potatoes and large pineapple chunks. Grill over direct heat and brush on BBQ sauce halfway through. The savory grilled pineapples make this work.
Matt: For a brat, a spicy mustard is a must for me. I love Silver Springs Beer’n Brat Mustard because sometimes you get a good batch and it clears the sinuses. If there is no mustard around I will usually go naked or potentially ketchup, controversy erupt…
In terms of the brand of brat I am not picky, but a good unique flavored brat is always good...blueberry, jalapeño are a couple of my current favorites. I agree with Bob though that I don’t want it previously frozen if possible.
Lastly for another tailgate food option I am a big fan of chicken wings. They are versatile with different sauce pairings, and you do not need silverware which is always nice for tailgating purposes.
Rock: I’ll lean to Johnsonville, but it’s the toppings that are more important. Horseradish mustard with a light dosing of onions and relish. Brats are not a dainty affair.
Most importantly, brats follow many rules of good tailgating food. You can easily prepare them without a plate and eat them one-handed. They don’t require utensils. They’re a little messy, but cleanup is a one-napkin affair.
Other top-tier tailgate foods include pre-made subs, cheese curds, crudite, popcorn, red licorice, pizza, brownies, cookies, and brownies, Oreos, and cookies baked together they’re called “slutty brownies” and yes they are worth it.
If you’re bringing dips, nachos, chili, a pasta salad, I’m putting down my beer, possibly needing to sit down as well. Let me stand in a circle with my friends, eating and drinking like a glutton.
Tyler: Ketchup *ducks* (Editor’s note: WELP!)
Drew: Not ketchup. Smh.
What is your go-to beverage on game days? What is your top beer and top booze?
Bob: Let’s be honest here, those 11 a.m. games present a unique problem. I need to discuss what is the best breakfast beer without making my family and employer think I’m an alcoholic. I don’t think this is possible, so let’s go forward.
My favorite breakfast beer is Blue Moon with a healthy squeeze of an orange wedge. Leine’s grapefruit shandy is also acceptable. Irish coffee is good, but a heavy pour of Bailey’s as a creamer is a real winner when College GameDay comes on.
For afternoons, I like Spotted Cow when it’s warm and Oktoberfests when it’s cool outside. My favorite treat is a good German dunkel lager. I’m really flexible, but I’m more of a malt fan than a hops fan.
For liquor, Gentleman Jack whiskey wins. Usually neat but sometimes in a Manhattan. I’ll go with a cheaper whiskey when I make an old fashioned. The key thing is to never use an old fashioned mix (or for that matter a margarita mix). It’s worth the effort of muddling for the old fashioned and squeezing some limes for a margarita.
Oh, and I can’t stand Bloody Marys. Boozy gazpacho just doesn’t appeal to me. Can I just order the garnishes?
Matt: So this will depend on the time of the game. For an 11 a.m. game I am not afraid of a nice coffee stout. Before I run down a rabbit hole of different ones I like I will just say the Coffee Bender from Surly for example. But who am I kidding, I will drink any beer, any time.
For later games I always enjoy Oktoberfest beers, and I do enjoy my fair share of IPAs as well. If it is very hot, a refreshing wheat beer or lager is always good to.
For liquor, I do enjoy a Bloody Mary for the early games. Other than the 11 a.m. games though I will usually stick to beer. If I am at home sometimes I will break out whiskey for a later game though, my favorite is Rowan’s Creek, a small batch Kentucky bourbon.
Rock: Bushmills in an Irish coffee. In one serving, you have the whiskey from the oldest licensed distillery in the world, two elements that will keep the chill of an 11 a.m. November kick at bay, and the stimulants and alcohol that will accelerate your natural hype for college football games. It’s more sophisticated than schnapps in hot chocolate, lighter on the belly than a mimosa, and simpler than a Bloody Mary.
But, there is a hard limit on how much caffeine I can handle before I just never go to sleep that night, and decaf is an oxymoron. When I’m switching to beer, it’s some combination of New Glarus Moon Man, Ale Asylum Bedlam!, or ideally Schlitz but let’s face it, it’ll be Miller Lite because Schlitz ain’t a common request yet.
Tyler: For 11 a.m. kickoff’s its Bloody Mary time for me. One of those with a beer chaser and maybe one more on top of that is good. Later in the day and the options open up. If I am casually enjoying a few, any Leinie’s or New Glarus. Honestly anything local. I wanna taste the Wisconsin in the beer. No Coors Light. All booze tastes like garbage to me, so I’m usually not going for that on game days. Now after the game? Get me a few vodka sodas and watch me cut a rug at Wando’s. When I start playing the air bass guitar, its over.
Drew: Alright, Tyler is rehired. Who plays air BASS guitar!?!? I love it. My beer snobbery knows, basically, no limits so I’m usually starting off the tailgate (or shower before leaving the house) with something fancy. I lean towards hoppy and local because, despite my beer snobbery, I am also a basic bitch. If we are in Madison, Karben4, Ale Asylum, Brewing Projekt or Third Space are probably in my cooler. If the temperature is below 70 degrees? New Glarus Staghorn all day, baby.
After a couple of decent beers you have to switch to Miller Lite, with a water mixed in, or you won’t make it. I know from, well, let’s just say I know from experience. Like Bob, I’m not the biggest Bloody Mary fan, but sometimes those early kicks do call for one. I like to carry a little pocket whiskey on me as well, regardless of kickoff time, because it mixes well with stadium Dr. Pepper.
If I’m feeling fancy I’ll drink Old Weller Antique 107, but I only have one bottle of that and I can’t find any more so it has to be a big game for that to come out. If I’m feeling regular and we’re playing, like, Central Michigan, Old Grand-Dad Bonded is the bourbon for me. I also like rye. I have a lot of rye in my bar. Dad’s Hat from Pennsylvania is good. Also, Mellow Corn whiskey is good too.
If we are hanging out after the game, and we usually are, another beer or two to ease into whatever prime time games are on and then fall asleep before halftime! A beautiful day imo.