Das Bevo's Sausage Fest is looking for meat lovers who can hold their beer.
It's no secret that St. Louis is home to many, many people of German descent. And yet St. Louis’ Germans have been unusually quiet of late. Soulard's Oktoberfest has recalibrated itself as a smaller, more family-friendly event, Strassenfest has seemingly fallen off the calendar, and while various craft breweries have picked up the slack, it's not like the old days, when A-B's German workers paraded through the streets on Labor Day with beer steins in hand and volkslieder in their hearts.
And then from out of nowhere comes Sausage Fest, courtesy of the rejuvenated and proudly German Das Bevo (4749 Gravois Avenue; www.dasbevo.com)
. This celebration of ground spiced meat forced into casings is just what St. Louis needs on the long Memorial Day weekend. Surprisingly for something so German, the whole idea started with a joke.
“[St. Louis Post-Dispatch restaurant critic] Ian Froeb did a review a while back and he said we were a 'sausage fest,'" laughs Bridgette Sesti Fyvie, Das Bevo's marketing and event planning maven. "We laughed about it, but when we started talking about actually doing a sausage fest. It really is the main thing on our menu. We're big fans of G&W Sausage, and this is a chance to show them off."
Indeed, for St. Louisans in the know, G&W is a veritable cathedral of hand-held meats. From the humble bratwurst to the spicy chorizo, from the rarely seen Bavarian-style Landjager beef sticks (cured long and thin sausages that are essentially the Ur-form of Slim Jims) to the shamefully underappreciated Weisswurst (a white and mild sausage traditionally purchased first thing in the morning and eaten with a nice weissbier), G&W maintains a heavenly stable of sausage for all your needs or desires.
For Sausage Fest, Das Bevo has prepared a menu that ranges from traditional favorites to the more outre reaches. “The Beet on the Brat” is a bratwurst with red beet relish and a Chicago-style garnish of celery salt, pickle, sport peppers and tomato, while “Carolina on my Mind” is a weisswurst with chili, creamy coleslaw and mustard. The “Firestarter” begins with a jalepeno-cheddar bratwurst and then piles on pickle chiles and habanero aioli, while the “Hard Knack Life” is a porky knockwurst with pickled chiles and burnt onion barbecue sauce.
What could be more picturesque?
In addition to Sausage Fest, which takes place 11 p.m. to midnight Saturday, May 26, Das Bevo has lined up an absolutely packed schedule for the rest of the weekend as well. Folk artist Tom Casey will display his intricately hand-crafted models of fire trucks, ships and even a Ferris wheel at 6 p.m. Friday, May 25, while ropin' and yodelin' Cowboy Randy Erwin will entertain everybody at 3 p.m. on Sunday, May 27. On Monday, May 28, from 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. all veterans and first responders can enjoy free breakfast.
But don't expect Das Bevo to go quiet after Memorial Day; Fyvie says multiple plans are in the works. "Pat and Carol [Schuchard], the new owners, everything we shoot at them they say 'yes,'" Fyvie enthuses. "In July we're going to do a Sound of Music sing-a-long, and we're talking about turning the lower level into a kind of speakeasy. Once the biergarten closes in October, we're thinking about ways to keep it going, do a sort of cabaret/Das Bevo Underground thing," she says.
All in all, it's a great time to be German-American in St. Louis, or to just eat and drink like one.