On The Sausage Trail – Indiana

When televisions’ had two denominations – black and white or color – US Highway 41 was the north to south highway connecting the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to Miami, Florida. In the 1960’s a family car trip from Chicago to Miami made Highway 41almost as famous as Route 66.

sausage-trail-article-photo-01While the interstate highway system has obviated US 41, there are still more than 200 reasons to travel US 41 to Haubstadt, Indiana. For those feint of heart souls who need a reason to travel to southwestern Indiana there are actually more than 200 sausage reasons to travel to Haubstadt.

What there is in Haubstadt to celebrate is one of the Mother Ships of Sausage. If you have only a few months to live and sausage is at the top of your bucket list, Dewig’s is a must visit orgy of the sausage maker arts. Dewig’s is certainly on the “National Register of Sausage Mother Ships” (a category of historic American sites Sausagfest.com has just trademarked).

It is truly an unbelievable sausage art gallery in a place remote enough that made me think that people will travel to Dewig’s the way people travel to the Anasazi villages of the American Southwest. Even if you are remotely near the Evansville, Indiana area you have to visit Indiana’s oldest sausage maker, Dewig’s Meats.

The Dewig family has been making sausages and butchering meat since before 1916. In a recent visit there on a spring Friday, Tom Dewig welcomed us to the palatial Dewig store.

Pat and Ellie Mullins> The building is large and impressive from the outside. Once inside you realize that Mammoth cave and Dewig’s both stretch the human capacity to understand huge interior space. You see butcher display cases that seem to run for a football field length or more. As people say about the Grand Canyon, Dewig’s is grand.

Dean Dewig, Tom’s son, was a gracious host and gave us historical background on a family run business still going strong. The Dewig brand is well known through the
Ohio River valley and has customers from St. Louis on the west to Cincinnati on the east. Amazingly, they have one retail store and do no Internet shipping. You either are lucky enough to live in their service area, or lucky enough to visit Evansville. (A hard concept to imagine for anyone east of Pittsburgh.)

On the left is Tom Dewig, center Dean Dewig, right Kent. Sausage Maker, Aaron Kiesel

On the left is Tom Dewig, center Dean Dewig, right Kent.

Dean also started dishing up samples. It was noontime. We had been driving for six hours coming down from Chicago. We were hungry and we ate everything he put in front of us. As impartial sausage reviewers we failed terribly. We tasted two summer sausages as good as any we tasted in Wisconsin. The liver sausage was pate perfect and their BBQ loaf was a baloney style sausage that captured what BBQ baloney should be. When you run across new artwork it’s hard to realize that you were searching for BBQ baloney all your life, but you just didn’t know it existed.

Dean told us that they are a federally inspected operation and are actually authorized to produce over 500 sausages. Given the month and season you can usually find 200 sausages in the store. Do you get the Grand Canyon imagery here and why it fits?

Sausage Maker, Aaron Kiesel

Sausage Maker, Aaron Kiesel

The Sausage Maker-in-Chief is Aaron Keisel and this article would be remiss if we didn’t make note of the artist in residence. When you go to Dewig’s seek the master out and get his autograph. People say there are no Babe Ruth’s anymore, but they don’t know what Aaron can do with Bratwurst.

We could have filled our trunk with sausage, but we came to our senses. We walked out with Smoked Jalapeno Bratwurst, Dewig’s championship Bratwurst and their Wisconsin style Summer Sausage. By 6 PM we were in Nashville and the sausages were being served for dinner. The jalapeno brats were far spicier than I was expecting. (Having travelled through Indiana for years hot spice is not always part of the local cuisine.) But, the brats were not shy on spice and were very lean with a good grind. The regular brats were championship caliber and the summer sausage slices were great appetizers. And, the prices were incredibly affordable.

Put Dewig’s on your must visit list if you’re a serious sausage fan.

Location and Contact Information:
Dewig Meats
Haubstadt, Indiana 47639

Travel Note: Dewig’s is west of US 41 and north of I-64. We used a GPS to find the retail store, which came in handy.

Article written by Kent Antonius, Editor & Publisher of the website, www.SausageFest.com