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The best of the wurst in Helen, Georgia

Sausage is a simple concept: ground meat varieties mixed with fat and spices, often stuffed into casings. Like any simple food concept, however, every culture has put its own spin on it—and none more distinctively than German culture where it’s called wurst. You can find the best of wurst in America, right here in Helen.

If you grew up in the South, sausage means breakfast, and it comes in a spicy, specific flavor characterized by sage, brown sugar, pepper flakes, and paprika. When you begin sampling German sausage, you’ll notice a more savory approach in general, but the choices can be overwhelming. German sausage recipes differ by locale and are older than our country: there are over 1,000 recipes for sausage. The most popular style to become world renowned is Bratwurst. Bratwurst is a subtype of sausage, and even within that category you’ll find variety:

·       Thüringer bratwurst is long and spicy

·       Nuremberg is the Nürnberger Bratwurst is five centimeters long, served in threes with a roll

·       A Bockwurst is what Americans would recognize as a hotdog

·       The Weißwurst is white and boiled with wheat beer as part of a balanced breakfast

·       Blutwurst is made of pig’s blood and spices exclusively

No need to be overwhelmed, as you can find some classic Bavarian brats at several restaurants in Helen, and they all have some overlap. Brats are made with pork and veal (sometimes beef) and seasoned with ginger, nutmeg, coriander, and/or caraway seed. For this reason, they taste great with beer and sauerkraut or anything tangy. Brats are usually boiled and finished on a grill to retain all of their moisture. Finally they are sliced and served next to some spicy mustard—sometimes on a bun or with a pretzel. Here’s where to get the best brats in town:

1. Bodensee Café:

If you’re striving for diverse flavor and authenticity, Chef Aurel Prodan is your guide. Try the wurst sampler platter: knockwurst, homemade garlicwurst, and Weisswurst served with Sauerkraut & German Potato Salad. Knockwurst is mildest and made of pork and beef; the garlicwurst is a house recipe; and the Weisswurst is a famous recipe made with fatback pork (bacon) and veal—flavored with parsley, lemon and mace.

2. The Heidelberg:

While many wursts are grilled from a water bath, the bauernwurst is pre-smoked. You will find it similar to a Polish sausage, made of pork and beef. This countryside favorite from Germany, flavored with mustard seed and marjoram, is only at The Heidelberg.

3. Hofer’s of Helen

Hofer’s is a German deli with an adjoined café. The lunchmeats are extensive, but since if you are going in for one thing, try a knockwurst. Although it looks like a big hotdog, the knockwurst has more flavor. This sausage is closely associated with Oktoberfest because it was featured in a stew at the original celebration in 1810 (along with potatoes, caraway seeds, and apples). Expect lots of garlic flavor and moisture. Don’t miss out on some fresh baked bread and pretzels while at Hofer’s.

4. Hofbrauhaus

The restaurant is designed and fashioned after the famous Hofbrauhaus in Munich, Germany. The owners are passionate about authentic flavors popular in Germany. As food knows no borders, the Hungarian or Kolbasz sausage is popular in Munich, and this is the place to try one as part of the sausage sampler: look for flavors such as paprika, black pepper, allspice, white pepper, caraway, nutmeg, marjoram, cayenne pepper, sugar, salt, garlic. Their authentic Munich-made pretzels would be a complementary side item.

5. Old Bavaria Inn

When you step into the Old Bavaria you may hear accordion music, experience people toasting, and see traditionally dressed German hosts and hostesses to take care of you. This is a top happy hour destination because of the extensive import beer list specials, not to mention the traditional brats on the sausage platter.

In case you were wondering, beer goes with all sausages.

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