'Off-Centered Brats'

Dogfish Brewery has come up with a line of brats flavored with its craft beers. (Picasa )

Not content to bring its signature “off-centered” thinking to just beer, Delaware's Dogfish Head Brewery late last year launched a line of foods including specialty sausages, hop-infused pickles and even canned clam chowder. After the storm of press releases died down, I stopped hearing about the new products. Then I unexpectedly discovered a selection of the “Off-Centered Brats” in the meat department of Whole Foods and couldn’t resist bringing them all home. 

The sausages, made by Coleman Natural, come in four varieties, each made with a signature Dogfish brew and with recipes formulated to perfectly pair with other “off-centered” ales from the brewery.

I assembled a sampler platter featuring the Spicy Espresso (chicken brats with espresso powder, habanero and Chicory Stout) and Heirloom Italian (pork brats with Midas Touch) sausages and served them with a variety of mustards and cheeses.

The fully cooked links grilled up quickly, with the natural casing achieving that perfect level of crispy crust without splitting prematurely. What the Spicy Espresso sausages lacked in attractiveness they made up for with their sweet and rich flavor and a surprisingly bright habanero kick. The Heirloom Italian pork links were my favorite (unsurprisingly, as they have twice the fat content of the chicken sausages), and they packed a big punch of flavor and heat -- they were far more spicy than the Spicy Espresso links. The beer flavor in each was well balanced, never overpowering the other ingredients.

A classic pork bratwurst with Raison D’Etre and a Greek feta brat with chicken, spinach, mint and Midas Touch are also available, and each package suggests which Dogfish Head brews to serve with them.

The roughly 3-ounce sausages come in packs of four and retail for around $7. In addition to Whole Foods, the sausages may also be available at Costco.

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