It’s not just for grilling: Gourmet sausage company breaks stereotypes

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The folks at Continental Sausage want Americans thinking about bratwurst and sausage differently.

“You don’t need to put it in a bun,” said John Roelke, vice president of marketing with Continental. “Our brats are center of the plate ready. You don’t have to consider it just for grill season.”

For 20 years now, European style and gourmet sausages have been made at Continental’s production facility at 911 E. 75th Ave., in Adams County.

The company produces more than 100 sausages and specialty meat products, including smoked sausage, hotdogs, bratwurst, and in 2003, the company began adding chicken and wild game sausage to its menu.

“We can do some cool things, we’re pretty inventive,” said Continental’s owner Eric Gutknecht.

Some of those cool, inventive products include Wild Board with Apricot and Cranberry Sausage, Pork Jalapeno Cheddar Bratwurst and the Bootlegger Brat (a specialty item that has Jack Daniels and dried cherries and only sold at Nascar events).

Gutknecht, 40, has owned Continental since 2000, but has been a part of the company since his parents bought it in 1982.

He considers the 20,000 to 25,000 pounds of meat the company produces per week to be handcrafted.

“The way we do things is different than other places,” he said. “We don’t skimp on the ingredients and we buy the best.”

Continental boasts that it only purchases all natural meats for its products, never uses MSG or fillers and only uses natural casings on linked sausages and never plastic or collagen casings.

“We use fresh, organic product in our sausages,” Roelke said. “We take a lot of pride in what we do.”

It’s not just the ingredients that the company takes pride in, but in how it produces the meats. At the 8,000-square-foot facility, workers use state-of-the-art European mixing, cooking, smoking and drying equipment.

The products are done the old fashioned European way, Roelke said, by chopping the meats and not grinding it to ensure better flavor distribution.

“We’re not reinventing the wheel; we’re doing things the way they are supposed to be done,” he said.

Continental Sausage began in 1969 by Ted Jaeggi. The Gutknechts began making sausage in 1809 and started in Switzerland, outside of Zurich, before moving to Denver and taking over the company.

“When Eric’s father, Nick, moved the family to Denver, that basically moved the family business to Denver,” Roelke said. “The Gutknechts used to run a chain of stores around Zurich called Neidermann’s. Once Nick, Eric’s father left, the stores closed down. He then bought Continental (in the late 1970s) to keep the tradition and family trade alive, but in America, not Switzerland.”

The company is seeing a lot of growth. It’s sales are up 45 percent this year over last and needs to expand its facility in Adams County, Gutknecht said.

The company owns two deli locations — the Continental Deli at 250 Steele St. in Cherry Creek and the Black Forest Deli at 9535 W. 58th Ave., in Arvada.

The delis are stocked with many imported products, such as chocolates, cheeses soups and pickles. Aside from their two deli locations, people can pick up Continental Sausage products from Costco and Whole Foods and are part of the menu items at a few Denver restaurants.

For more information on the company, visit www.continentalsausage.com.

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