Beer, Brats and Schnitzel

From the traditional dirndls worn by the staff to sauerbraten beef that marinates for five days, there’s always a Bavarian atmosphere at the Inn at Danbury’s Alphorn Bistro (67 NH Route 104, 768-3318). Owners Robert and Alexandra Graf, winners of a recent North American Restaurant Association “Award of Excellence,” have theme weekends in October — from beer and brats to wine tastings — at the upscale inn.

They have all types of brats like curry brats, Nürnberger and Münich weisswurst/bockwurst, according to Alexandra, a Netherlands native who speaks several languages including German. Schnitzel and brats are always on the menu and there are rotating specials like rouladen and Jaeger schnitzel.

The Bohne family has been serving up German and American food in a remodeled Salem dairy barn for more than a generation. Schnitzels of chicken and veal, sauerbraten, German meatballs and more can be found at The Green Barn Family Restaurant (5 Hampstead Road, 893-3780). Carl and Margaret Bohne (he’s second generation in the business started by his parents, Bill and Frances) run the place.

For October, Carl plans to add the labor-intensive rouladen to the menu. “It’s a rich and hearty meat dish perfect for that kind of weather,” he says. The meat is sliced thin, rolled and stuffed with onions, pickles, bacon and a Hunter sauce.

The Bernerhof Inn in Glen (Route 302, 383-4414) was named by a Swiss family and the spirit remains in the Rare Bear Bistro and Black Bear Pub run by CIA grads Scott and Teresa Stearns since June 2001. Today, photos of Austrian skiing sensation Hannes Schneider are on the wall and his grandson Christof can be found tending bar before he heads to Austria for the winter.

For years, the pub has been the site of a beer and schnitzel special Wednesday nights ($15.95). Bratwurst is a pub menu staple, while the dining room serves up the Old World sautéed breaded veal wienerschnitzel, spaetzle and spiced, braised red cabbage. Ask about the weiner wurst, a bratwurst-veal cutlet combo done by request and occasionally found on the menu.

A pair of “Best of NH 2004” winners cater to the brat-and-schnitzel crowd. The William Tell Inn in West Alton (Route 11, 293-8803), under the direction of Chef/owner Peter Bossert, gets high marks for its Swiss-style cuisine. The Lakes Region landmark restaurant serves everything from weinerschnitzel to Tobler chocolate cake for dessert.
Newcomer Artisan Sausage of NH in North Conway (2680 Main Street, 356-0122) won Best Designer Sausage. Owner Craig Smith expects to fill the cases with German-style brats and such for October. They are made by George Davis, known around town as the Sausage Man. Watch the man in action. They’ve got around 30 different types of sausages, which start at $5.99 a pound. Lunch features a sandwich selection and lunch boxes. Take one next door to a bench in Schouler Park and watch the leaves fall.

Portsmouth’s Stroudwater Books is now Philbrick’s Fresh Market at 775 Lafayette Road and in a back corner is Forbe’s Meat Company (431-7441) with more than a dozen kinds of locally made, hormone-free sausage like Sheboygan bratwurst. A throwback to grandma’s day, talk to the butcher and look through a window at the dry aging rack. The Sheboygan bratwurst is a simple mix of pork and veal with mild seasonings. Take it home to cook.

“Soak it in beer and then grill it,” says assistant manager Andy Fox. Sausages run between $5.99 and $6.99 a pound.
October is a hopping month at the Redhook Brewery and Cataqua Public House in Portsmouth (35 Corporate Drive, 430-8600).

Hoptoberfest, a play on Oktoberfest and the name of a seasonal beer, runs through the end of the month with big blowout party slated for October 8-9 with music edgier than polka, according to marketing man Ethan Stienstra. Featured at Hoptoberfest and available year-round at the Cataqua is the bratwurst boiled in, you guessed it, beer.
Ski areas get into the brat business before the snow flies with Oktoberfest celebrations October 9-10. Since 1980, the oompah bands have entertained at Gunstock’s Oktoberfest (Route 11A, 1-800-GUNSTOCK). In the Gilford ski lodge, grab a sampler platter of items like bratwurst, knockwurst, sauerbraten and wienerschnitzel catered by Kieley’s Corp. of Hampstead. German fare, beer and dancers are the norm in Lincoln at Loon’s Oktoberfest (60 Loon Mountain Road, 745-8111) in the Octagon Lodge. Just watch out for flying sausages because there will be a “sausage slingshot” for an aerial brat attack.