Football season is here (sort of), and for many, tailgating is a main event. While there will be nothing traditional about tailgating this year, that doesn’t mean you can’t grill delicious food and enjoy a few beers before game time in the comfort of your own backyard or driveway.

Tackle your tailgate with these tips:

Play it Safe

Being outdoors is the safest way to socialize these days, making a tailgate party a good way to see a few friends. Take into account the size of your space, and don’t have more folks over than you can manage while practicing social distancing. Encourage more space between attendees by spreading out chairs. While tailgating parties oftentimes entail finger foods eaten communally, consider serving snacks in individual bowls. Don’t forget to provide hand sanitizer!

Score a Flavor Touchdown

Smoking food can be a game changer, adding big flavor to meats and veggies. The good news is you don’t need a special grill or artificial additives to create easy, wood-fired smoke flavor. Consider adding Smoke ‘Ems from Bear Mountain BBQ to your tailgating playbook. Adding up to 45 minutes of all-natural hardwood smoke, Smoke ‘Ems are an easy way to add real wood smoke flavor to your food, whether you’re grilling in your backyard, at the park, in a parking lot or on a camping trip. Made from 100 percent premium all-natural hardwoods, they come in four different blends: Gourmet, Bold, Savory and Sweet BBQ. Each blend provides a unique flavor profile that will inspire delicious meals.

So, what should you serve at your tailgate? Using any type of grill, try creating Bear Mountain’s World Famous Brats and Sauerkraut:


• 8 – 12 uncooked brats

• 8 – 12 potato style brat or hot dog rolls

• 1 medium yellow onion – sliced

• 4 tablespoons butter

• 24 ounces lager or pilsner beer

• 1 teaspoon ground pepper

• A medium-sized foil pan (use a smaller pan with fewer brats)

• One 27-ounce can of sauerkraut

Preparation using Gourmet Blend Smoke ‘Ems:

  1. On one side of the grill, turn on the burner to medium-high or fire up charcoal, and place the Bear Mountain BBQ Smoke ‘Ems packet directly over the heat until it starts smoking.
  2. When smoke starts, place brats on the other side of the grill, or an upper rack over low heat, and cook to an internal temperature of 150 degrees or until the Smoke ‘Ems has stopped smoking.
  3. Remove from the grill, and turn temperature to medium/high.
  4. Place the brats, onions, butter, beer and onions in the foil pan and return to the grill.
  5. Cook for 30 or more minutes, allowing the brats to soak in the flavors.
  6. When the brats are plump and juicy, remove the brats and onions, and discard liquid. Add the sauerkraut to the pan and mix in the brats and onions to combine. Cover the pan with foil and place back on the grill until the sauerkraut is warm.

For more crowd-pleasing recipes and ideas for adding wood-fired flavor to your tailgate, visit

While you will likely be changing a few aspects of your tailgates this year, you don’t need to compromise on big flavor or fun.