Oktoberfest Crew: Alex Lagger and Handcrafted Sausages
Alex Lagger : 26 years of sausage making
Anyone that has visited Alpine Village in the last week has surely seen the Big Tent under construction, the most visible sign of the massive preparations underway for Oktoberfest. Last week Otto Radtke spoke of the months of planning it takes to host the Bavarian celebration, with food production as a priority focus during Oktoberfest season. And this is no small feat – Alpine Village must feed an additional 7,500 Oktoberfest guests per weekend on top of what they already produce for the Alpine Market and Alpine Steinhaus restaurant.
Of course, the star of the menu is the sausage. Alpine makes their sausages in-house year-round, and it is no different during Oktoberfest. No machines, no shortcuts – every single sausage is handcrafted whether you eat it in the restaurant, the café or the tent. For this reason, butcher Alex Lagger is the focus of our second story in the Oktoberfest Crew blog series, an insider look at the people behind Alpine Village Oktoberfest.
Alex is going on his 26th year working at the Alpine Market and has created delectable award-winning sausage recipes. Most customers will not get the chance to meet Alex because he diligently arrives at work 2:30 AM every morning and leaves before most people visit his deli counter. However, I encourage anyone who comes early enough to stop by to say hello. Alex is a friendly, humble guy with a sense of humor like his Landjäger: semi-dry. There’s no pretense about him – Alex even makes jokes about the word “artisan” being a frou-frou phrase, and says he simply likes doing things the old fashioned way.
I visited Alex one morning at the end of his shift to ask him more about his tenure at Alpine Village and making sausages for Oktoberfest.
So, you’ve worked at Alpine Village almost 26 years—
And I had hair on my head when I first started. I wasn’t this bald.
I think your baldhead looks great – it’s very Bruce Willis! Speaking of great, can you tell me what you enjoy most about this place?
There is no other place like this. There are not a lot of butcheries in Southern California. You’ll find a few, but none have a market with a bakery, a deli, specialty imports, and a restaurant. I enjoy working in a really unique place.
How much meat do you produce each week?
We pack up to 10,000 pounds of meet a week and we offer over 100 different varieties of sausages in the market year-round.
Wow that is a lot of meat! With about 7,500 people each Oktoberfest weekend, how many more sausages a week do you need to make to meet the demand?
We make an additional 1 ton of sausages per week.
Amazing. And how much help do you have?
We have 6 people on staff including myself. Our work area is about 900 square feet, which is a bit modest, but we are able to produce a lot of meat.
Over the years, has anything changed about the way you pack sausages?
No. It’s exactly the same. We make sausages by hand – and that is the way it should be. Handcrafted sausages tastes better than the ones made by machines.
We start off by seasoning the meat, stuffing them into it’s casing. Whether they are fresh or smoked, it takes about 2 or 3 hours to make sausages. With machines the process is much faster – it only takes 10 minutes to finish the batter and then 15 minutes to link them.
Which sausages do you feature at Oktoberfest?
At Oktoberfest we feature Bratwurst, Polish and this year we’re adding the Chicken Habenero to the line-up.
What makes a great bratwurst?
Simple – fresh meat, fresh herbs and fresh spices.
How would you recommend first-time Oktoberfesters eat their sausages?
They should definitely try the bratwurst on a bread roll with mustard. Now this is a very important tip: They should make sure they are holding a brat in one, and an ice-cold German beer in the other. This is the best way to enjoy your meal!
Here, here! I can’t think of a better way to enjoy a handcrafted sausage than with a tasty beer to chase it down. I’ll be eating of few of them this year myself. Hope to see you out there this season! Now if for some reason you are unable to attend Oktoberfest this year, you can buy our sausages at the Alpine Market year round – and check out what Yelpers are saying about the market.