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Ohio’s Own: Carle’s Brats

Miriam Bowers Abbott Miriam Bowers Abbott Ohio’s Own: Carle’s BratsPhotos by Miriam Bowers Abbott.
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Bucyrus, Ohio has been home to an annual August bratwurst festival that’s run every year since 1968. In fact, the Ohio city is the Bratwurst Capital of America. One of the businesses that has helped the city earn it this informal title is Carle’s Bratwurst. In operation since 1929, Carle’s commitment to the art of sausage predates the city’s celebration by about 40 years.

While Italian sausage might be defined by the use of fennel, and chorizo by its deep red color, the internet is a little short on the defining characteristics of a bratwurst. It’s a sausage, a German sausage, and it’s made from meat. 

Given its near-century of credentials, Carle’s seems like as good a place as any to define the prototype brat. That said, whatever spices it uses will remain a secret. The ingredient list on a package of its brats mentions only “spices.” It does disclose some other things, though, and those things are kind of interesting. Pork is the first ingredient, which is pretty normal for any sausage. Then there’s also cracker meal and eggs. You don’t usually find those sorts of things in the mix. 

The result, though, is uncommonly good. The finely ground mixture, plumply bound in casings, is likable from the first bite. It has the brine you’d find in any sausage, with a texture that is far less oily that you’d expect. Honestly, it’s gross when grease spurts out on the first bite of a sausage, and Carle’s won’t do that to you. No weird little nubby mystery chunks, either. It’s one smooth, flavorful brat.

Carle’s does more than bratwurst. Its store in Bucyrus also has a full butcher counter, a deli, hot food, wine, and snacks. 

The dates for this year’s festival are August 15-17. It’ll feature pedal tractor pulls, music, magic, a parade, and contests that include: men’s legs, watermelon eating/seed spitting, pigtail contest, mustache & beard, cream puff eating, and yes: a bratwurst eating contest. 

Don’t want to make the haul? Carle’s website lists Huffman’s and Weiland’s as local purveyors, and its brats can be found on the menu at The Old Mowhawk as well.

For more information, visit carlesbrats.com.

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