Image for Local Profile: Gerhard’s Brats

Gerhard’s Brats has been crafting small-batch, handmade bratwursts since fall of 2012 and selling them wholesale to co-ops and groceries for the past five years. During their first three years in business, Gerhard’s Brats were sold exclusively at local Twin City food co-ops, supported by shoppers like you who value small, local, family-owned food producers, makers, and farmers. Today, because of increasing consumer demand, their delicious brats can be found in 11 states.

Co-founded by Rob Lee and namesake Gerhard Riautschnig, these authentic Vienna-style sausages are created using simple ingredients, including all-natural pork casings, antibiotic-free pork sourced from a collective of farmers in Northern Iowa, and simple seasonings including salt, pepper, and garlic. The pork they use comes from Duroc hogs raised outdoors, not in enclosures, that are fed an all-vegetarian diet. Since they only use high-quality pork fat, 75-percent-lean meat, wholesome ingredients, and no fillers or preservatives, Gerhard’s Brats have a higher nutritional content than much of the competition. They also contain no wheat, no sugar and one-third of the typical sodium found in conventional brats.

When creating their original recipes, Gerhard and Rob developed products they wanted to eat themselves. In fact, it was the lack of clean-ingredient brats in the market place that led them to create their own. All Gerhard’s Brats, including their Original, Smoked, Käsewurst (Smoked Cheese), Hungarian Hunstman, and Bier Brats, are made using an authentic Austrian recipe passed down from Gerhard’s grandmother. They are sold fully precooked, ready to reheat and eat with your favorite sauerkraut, condiments, and sides.

As a young child, Gerhard grew up in rural Austria, making bratwurst by hand with his parents who raised and slaughtered hogs on their family farm. By continuing this tradition, Gerhard brings a wealth of Old-World techniques and the lost art of home-cured meats to his local food business. In addition to focusing on simple, clean ingredients that are locally sourced, Gerhard’s Brats prioritizes local partnerships. For example, the beer in their Bier Brats comes from Bauhaus Brew Labs, a German-inspired craft brewery in Northeast Minneapolis. They’ve also recently established a local catering partnership with famed woman-owned business Chow Girls Killer Catering and Origin Meals, a local meal kit service, to expand their reach.

This summer, you can find their mobile brat truck, the Gerhard’s Würstelstand, at our 40th Anniversary Block Party on June 15. Swing by to meet them while grabbing a few flavorful brats and sauerkraut. A newer Gerhard’s product, their Germanic sauerkraut is inspired by another family recipe and contains cabbage, apples, cinnamon, and spices. While you’re here, pick up a few packs of brats to grill or pan fry at home. Gerhard and Rob recommend the following brat-and-beer pairings: an effervescent lager with their Original brat; a rich porter, stout, or red ale with their Smoked brat; or a hoppy IPA with their Bier brat. No matter how you decide to enjoy them, Gerhard’s Brats can’t be beat!