Cooking with Beer: Bratwurst Burger with Ale-Braised Onions & Spicy Mustard

Why yes, we do fire up the grill in mid-winter. Here, brown ale adds layers of Maillard comfort to braised onions and a from-scratch (but simple to make) bratwurst burger.

Christopher Cina Jan 16, 2022 - 3 min read

Cooking with Beer: Bratwurst Burger with Ale-Braised Onions & Spicy Mustard Primary Image

Photo: Christopher Cina

Bratwurst Burger with Braised Onions & Spicy Mustard

Serves: 2

  • 1 lb (454 g) ground pork
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • ½ tsp caraway seed, ground
  • ¼ tsp mustard powder
  • ½ tsp thyme leaves, fresh
  • ¼ tsp ginger, ground
  • ¼ tsp mace
  • 2 cup (473 ml) yellow onion, ¼" (6 mm) julienne
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ cup (59 ml) + 2 Tbs vegetable oil
  • 6 oz (177 ml) brown ale
  • 2 brioche buns or other type of bun
  • leaves Boston Bibb lettuce
  • ¼ cup spicy mustard (such as Löwensenf)

In a large bowl, combine the pork, sugar, and spices (caraway seed through mace), and mix well. Making sure to push out as much air as possible, form two 8 oz (227 g) burger patties. Let the patties rest in the fridge for 4 hours.

For the braised onions, in a medium bowl, combine the onion, salt, and ¼ cup (59 ml) vegetable oil. Mix well. Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Carefully add the onion mixture to the skillet. Stirring frequently, cook until the onions become golden brown. Slowly add the ale and stir well.

Reduce the heat to low and cover. Cook just until the liquid has evaporated. Remove from the heat and hold warm.

To serve, remove the patties from the fridge. Heat the remaining 2 Tbs oil in a cast-iron skillet over medium heat (you can also grill these patties if you prefer). Cook the patties until they reach an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) and are cooked through. Place 2 lettuce leaves on the bottom half of each bun. Place the bratwurst patty on the lettuce. Spread 2 Tbs spicy mustard on top of each patty. Top each patty with a half cup (118 ml) of braised onions and finish with the top bun. Serve with your favorite side dish.

Beer Tasting Notes: Whereas her cousins porter and stout bring the roast, brown ale brings more toasted bread crust and a judicious layer of caramel—not sweet, ideally, but balanced for drinkability. English-brewed (or English-style) examples whether Northern or Southern may lean more into malt, with a softer and lighter profile, while American brown ales tend to have more bitterness and more hop flavor—yet with the malt character and body dialed up to help balance it.

Beer Suggestions: Cigar City Maduro (Tampa); Civil Life American Brown Ale (St. Louis); Harvey’s Lewes Castle Brown (Lewes, East Sussex, England); Russian River Janet’s Brown Ale (Santa Rosa, California).