With over 100 years of tradition, Werner’s Fine Sausages is my top choice for food when it comes to homemade sausage. They sell a wide variety of sausages ranging from authentic German bratwurst to Mexican chorizo. The quality of the meat is top-notch, and the price is favorable for both the service and quality.
In 1898, Swanson’s Sausages opened on Westport Blvd. In 1972, the store – names, recipes and all – was purchased by German-born Werner Wohlert. Werner’s Fine Sausages was opened in Mission, KS in 1973. Wohlert was a salumist, or a sausage maker, apprentice in Germany. He retired from the business in 1995, and Werner’s was sold to David and Judy Miller.
Before I visited Werner’s, I decided I was going to attempt to make my own sausage after eating Werner’s. I knew it was going to be hard, but I didn’t realize that it would be near impossible.
Walking into the little corner store, a savory, smoky aroma filled my nose. A lady with three 15 pound turkeys was having Werner’s smoke them for her Thanksgiving dinner while a worker in the back was tying off sausage links. My eyes immediately ran to the trays full of plump sausages. Before even choosing which of them I wanted to eat, I could already imagine the mouth-watering flavors.
Tall racks of German snacks and specialties were placed in the center of the store, each one more eye-catching than the other. The walls had glass door refrigerators with breads, liver and bacon dumplings and German potato salads, all looking incredibly delicious.
On Saturdays, the store grills out from 11 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. For $4, you can get a bratwurst, knackwurst, smoked Polish sausage, cheddar bier bratwurst, andouille sausage or Italian sausage hot off the grill, served on a bakery-fresh bun.
I ordered three different kinds of German sausages, three knackwursts, three cheddar bier bratwursts and three bratwursts.
Even though each was a type of bratwurst, they all had their own unique flavors. My first bite into the cheddar bier brat was perfection. It had this snap of the animal casing as I bit down, unlike the mush of a Farmland hot dog. The cheese oozed out and mixed perfectly with the flavor of the bier. It was like nirvana in a bun.
The knackwurst, on the other hand, wasn’t exactly my favorite of the night. It was made of veal, which is meat from calves instead of older cattle. It had great flavor if you like veal, just not one for me.
Unlike the knackwurst, the bratwurst was satisfying. It had more bite to it than any old Johnsonville brat that comes in packs of five. With the crisp burn on the sides and a little ketchup, I chowed down. I couldn’t exactly point out what was in the brat that separated it from others I had had before, but the flavor made it stand out as the best one yet.
The other two types of sausage were andouille and Polish. Andouille is a French sausage made using onions, pork, wine and pepper. It’s often associated with cajun food like red beans and rice or gumbo. As soon as I bit down on the andouille, my mouth was immediately on fire. All of the flavors flowed over my tongue. One word to sum it up: unbelievable. Just make sure you have a glass of milk when you eat it because it’s spicy.
The smoked Polish sausage was also a solid pick. It wasn’t my favorite, but like the others, it was full of well-mixed flavors, but they were all dull. Though the flavors weren’t too exciting, it’s not a sausage you should ignore.
When I got home, I used the inspiration from the Polish sausage to make my own. The sausage I made was an Italian sausage, which is like the Polish sausage. Mine was nowhere near the flavor of the Polish, but it was alright considering I have never made it before.
My experience at Werner’s was exceptional. The workers were genuine and friendly, helping me choose which sausages would be the best for me to try. The food was excellent and it’s undoubtedly a must-stop if you’re passing by.
All together, I spent $25, which was a very low price for the quality of the food. The sausage was $5.69 a pound, with four sausages in a pound. Werner’s is definitely a spot anyone who likes sausage should stop by. I know I will.
The respect I have for the cooks at Werner’s has immensely multiplied after making sausage myself. It took me forever and it was almost impossible because the ingredients were things like dry s
herry vinegar. But time and effort was well worth the reward. I give props to all the Werner’s sausage makers who grind and stuff sausages all day.
Map by Aidan Epstein: