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Brat culture in Madison, WI

This popular brat stop is far from the wurst.

BratHaus postcard

A postcard from the Shorty + Lammy era

Image provided by State Street Brats

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Around 40 percent of Wisconsinites can trace their roots back to German ancestry. With that in mind, our love of brats and beer comes as no surprise.

There really isn’t a wrong way to eat a brat, as long as you soak it in beer, cook it over charcoal, + use heaps of sauerkraut. One place that seems to consistently nail it on the brat front, is State Street Brats.

⏳ Turn back time

Before it was State Street Brats, 603 State St. was known as Shorty and Lammy’s BratHaus. Seymore “Shorty” Kayes and Warren “Lammy” Lamm owned and operated the BratHaus from 1953 to 1989. In those 30+ years, they curated an iconic Madison landmark by serving up classic, Wisconsin-style brats as well + their specialty, the red brat.

🔴 The (red) brat that started it all

A State Street Brats staple, the red brat is a smoked beef + pork bratwurst, grilled butterfly style — it’s been served up since day one. A local Madison butcher was responsible for this signature wurst, exclusively making them for Shorty and Lammy. The duo eventually bought the recipe from the butcher’s estate after his passing. That same recipe has been in use for generations and is now produced by Bakalar’s Sausage in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

🌭 The rest is history

In 1989, the BratHaus officially became the State Street Brats we know and love today. Along with a name change, new menu items were added as well. The traditional, Sheboygan-style, tailgate brat — better known as a white brat — made its debut. This pork-based product doesn’t contain any beef, giving the red brat its signature hue.

State Street Brats is a fixture of the Madison bar scene and a historical microcosm of WI brat culture. Whether you’re looking for a signature red, classic tailgate style, or even — gasp — a hot dog, you’ll find it here.

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