Companies that primarily make hot dogs, bratwurst and sausages - like Ball Park, Hillshire Farm and Johnsonville - have all at once released a new lines of boutique smoked sausage products in a variety of flavors.
I decided to try Hillshire Farm's new American Craft smoked sausage links. I picked up two out of the available flavors - smokey bourbon and garlic and onion - for $3.49 each at Food Lion, minus a $1 coupon for each package from Sunday newspapers.
Regular smoked sausage wouldn't often appear on my family menu plan given their high calorie and fat content, but I figured we'd splurge a bit.
Perhaps hot dog and sausage companies have run out of ways to make interesting variations on their main products. They apparently decided to go the way of other food and beverage products such as beer by releasing high-end products. Their new premium labels seem to be aimed at customers with the ability and willingness to spend a lot of green on sausage that looks classier than than the standard fare.
The flavors of American Craft smoked sausage links that I tried tasted delicious, though not significantly better than other Hillshire Farm products, which are already fantastic.
Hillshire Farm makes the best cheddar wurst that my family has tried. The texture of American Craft sausages seems a bit fattier than bratwurst products, and they do have a higher fat content than Hillshire Farm cheddar brats.
Any Hillshire Farm selection you serve for a family meal, cookout or tailgating party would probably go over quite well. However, if your crew frequently enjoys smoked sausage or bratwurst, whether on the grill or stove, you might enjoy American Craft for a nice change of pace alongside or in place of burgers and brats.