When I go to Germany, the first two things I look for are currywurst and beer. No one makes either like the Germans.

Das helle boch bier = The light dark beer

Das helle boch bier = The light dark beer

My favorite beer while stationed in Pirmasens in the late 1970s and early 1980s was Parkbrau’s Pirminator. A local fest beer, this stuff was and I believe still is, strong. I mean strong. For soldiers new to the country, the goal was to be able to drink five of the .5 liter bottles, the “grosse flasche.”

The first time I drank it, I barely made it through one bottle. By the time I left, my record was seven or eight. I think, I may have blacked out. But, I have never had a German beer (in Germany, the imported German beer in the US just ain’t the same) I didn’t like.

Currywurst is Germany’s original fast food. It is a sausage covered with a tomato based sauce and lots of curry powder. I have normally seen it served with pomme frites (french fries), but brotchen is also an option. In Germany,fries are often served with mayo. Try it, it is good. Trust me.
Rough translation: Currywurst makes you sharp...and makes other wursts jealous

Rough translation: Currywurst makes you sharp...and makes other wursts jealous

It is generally accepted lore that currywurst originated in postwar Berlin (1949) when Herta Heuwer traded some spirits to British soldiers in exchange for curry powder. She created a sauce using tomatoes, put it on a grilled wurst and sprinkled Indian (British) curry powder on it. Viola, currywurst was born. It was a poor man’s meal. Ms Heuwer eventually sold enough on the street to open a restaurant that stayed open until 1974.
I have done some experimenting in the United States to come up with a currywurst like I get in Germany. You just can’t get the same wursts. Some people use American kielbasa, but I prefer a good quality bratwurst. Here is my quick and easy recipe:
  • German curry ketchup
  • Indian sweet curry powder
  • good quality bratwurst

Grill the brat on a grill or you can heat them in a cast iron pan, get them nice and hot.

To be fancy, place the brat on a plate and cut slices about a half inch wide, but don’t cut all the way through. In other words, the sliced brat should stay in one piece.

Generously coat the brat with German curry ketchup. You can find this in the states, especially if you know someone in the military who can get it for you at the Commissary. DO NOT USE REGULAR AMERICAN KETCHUP!

Sprinkle a generous amount of curry all over the brat. Pop open the best beer you can find. Enjoy.



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18 Comments on Currywurst and beer

  1. Christopher Britt says:

    OMG, this is so accurate. I can almost taste the Pirminator and currywurst now! Thanks for trip down memory lane!

  2. Alan says:

    The best Currywurst in the world could be found at the Schnellimbiss across the street from the MP Station in Pirmasens. Except for the plastic fork (they used little wooden spear-type forks), the photo is perfect…right down to the paper “boat.” Oh, and did I mention that I have a bottle of Parkbrau (unfortunately, not Pirmanator, but Pils) sitting on the “shrine shelf” in my home office?

  3. James Oswald says:

    I enjoyed your post and concur that imported German beers cannot compare in taste and alcoholic content to those sold in Germany. I think it has to do with the pateurization and homogenization process required by law for import beers. While stationed at Miesau Army Depot I had the pleasure of knocking back quite a few Parkbrau beers but never a Pirminator. I did, however, enjoy other Christmas “boch” and “doppelboch” beers. Das ist gut geschmeckt!!!

  4. Virgil says:

    That little Schnellimbiss is where I had my first currywurst and many more after that. My barracks was across the street. We sometimes played kino there while having a beer, currywurst, and pomme frites. Wonder if that place is still there? Thanks for bringing up that memory! I also loved the Pizza “tutto” and Sambuca at the German American club run by an Italian. We closed that place many a night.

  5. Virgil says:

    I loved the bocks and doppelbochs! Still do whenever I get a chance to go to Germany. I love flying through Frankfurt airport with a layover. There is a place there with currywurst, not to mention beer. Doesn’t matter what time of day it is, I go straight there in between flights.

  6. As your article mentions, Currywurst was invented by Herta Heuwer in Berlin in 1949 as an affordable but filling meal for the people of Berlin at a time when food was in short supply.

    When you order your Currywurst you can ask for it skin on “Currywurst mit Darm” or without skin “Currywurst ohne Darm”. Sausage casings were in short supply in the Soviet-controlled side of the city. If you grew up in East Berlin, you like sausage without skin; if you grew up in West Berlin, you probably prefer sausage with skin.

    I’m not from Berlin, I prefer Currywurst without skin and in my opinion the best place to get it is from Fritz & Co (a Currywurst stall) on Wittenberg Platz in the Schöneberg area of Berlin.

  7. Virgil says:

    Thanks for the post, didn’t know that. I have never has a skinless version, would like to give it a try, for sure.

  8. Lenny says:

    I was there in 1978-80. There was a gausthouse up the hill by the bridge that had the vest currywurst abd shoppas of Parkbrau export. Many fond memories…

  9. Virgil says:

    Lenny, I was there at the same time (78-83, I kept extending until they made me go back to the states). My main place to go was the imbiss across from the MP station and right behind my barracks.

  10. Eddie Navarro says:

    I was in the 165th sig. co. there and the imbiss across from the MP station we called Joe’s hole in the wall. The old man that owned it first name was Joe, and if the Imbiss was close on the right side was a walk way to his home, the front door and we would by boxes of Pirminator . The food at the Imbiss was great with Pirminator, the Currywurst ,and or half of Chicken. Wow!! I miss that feeling of great taste of food and drink. Pirm Days 1977 to 1983..

  11. Virgil says:

    Eddie, thanks for your comment. I was there 1977-1982. I was mostly in the Calibration Lab on the depot. Never knew the name of the imbiss. Do you remember the German-American club run by an Italian? Had many a sambuca and Pirminater there, as well as the great pizza. He called samba, “crazy wasser.” Great times.

  12. Rich says:

    I was stationed in Zweibrucken (84-86). Pirminator the terminator was made down the hill from Kreuzberg Kaserne. Zweibrucken had its own Parkbrau brewery then. What a wicked brew! Pirminator was a seasonal beer. Sure miss the wurst and beer, brings back great memories!

  13. cliff conaway says:

    spent many years in Germany, was marred to a pirmasens girl in 1955 and we are still marred ,we miss the old town very much.
    and miss the parkbrau, where can I get some in the usa, to old to return to the park house drank some CLIFF

  14. Virgil says:

    I really wish I knew where to get it in the states. Don’t think it is possible. Last time I went back was 2007, hadn’t changed that much. Stayed in a gasthaus in Rodalben. Good memories.

  15. […] If you were walking on the streets of Berlin, you’d likely run right into a vendor hawking these tasty sausages smothered in a rich tomato-based sauce. But you don’t have to travel to Berlin to try this dish. You can whip up authentic German Currywurst right at home. Try this recipe. […]

  16. Yovonne Autrey-Schell says:

    Thank you so much for this post, you brought back so many memories! I was stationed at the 59th MP Co from ’91-’94 and very fondly remember the Schnellimbiss across from the PMO. Many was the time we were out on a call and missed chow entirely, but Joe always hooked us up. He was a great guy and retired before the post was handed over and I hope he has enjoyed a wonderful life since then. I do wish I knew how he made his La Flute Especially Spicy sandwich, those things were out of this world good. And Parkbräu may have been great to drink, but not so much fun to smell when the wind shifted so that the brewery was upwind of the quarters area; the fumes from the mash in those fermentation tanks were pretty rank.

    My time in Pirmasens with the wonderful people I was stationed with there will always be some of my most cherished memories. Thanks again for this post!

  17. Yovonne Autrey-Schell says:

    Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be an edit function, so I’ll just add a correction to my reply to your post here. The more I think about it, the more I seem to recall that we all called the little schnellimbiss across from the PMO ‘Pop’s’, because that’s what we called Joe: Pop. Man, I really do miss the people and the area! Pirmasense was great.

  18. John Blount says:

    I was stationed in Zweibrucken from Jan 79 to Jan 81. Loved it there, best beer anywhere. Did anyone try Bellheimers beer? It was the best.

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