Sheboygan Falls, Wis.,
15:04 PM

Big Taste Grill Tour Begins

Johnsonville Big Taste Grill Opens Its 22nd Year in Charleston

The Johnsonville Big Taste Grill is ready for #22.

This year will mark the 22nd year the 65-foot mobile semi-truck-turned-grill hits the road for another 8-month tour, serving more than 130,000 Johnsonville Brats and Grillers cross country. The tour opens on April 2 in Charleston at the Cooper River Bridge Run, one of the five largest road races in the U.S.

The Big Taste Grill will also feature a new Lead Grillmaster, with Steven Hensley hitting the road, tongs in hand. Steven was chosen from hundreds of applicants after a nationwide search took place upon Ryan Allison’s “retirement.” Ryan had served as Johnsonville’s Grillmaster for five years. Joining Hensley is Grillmaster Assistant Manny Velazquez, and Driver Al Acosta.

The Big Taste Grill appears at more than 120 different community festivals, events and retail experiences each year, and it serves more than just tasty-tailgate sausages. The 53,000-pound grill also raises money for local charities. Since its inception in 1995, the Big Taste Grill program has raised nearly $4 million for charities nationwide, many of them local community organizations. In 2015 alone, the Johnsonville Big Taste Grill raised more than $132,000 for 42 different charities and served more than 130,000 brats and other Johnsonville sausages.

The Johnsonville Big Taste Grill measures 65 feet long, and can keep a dozen grillmasters busy grilling up to 750 brats at one time, or 2,500 brats per hour. This grilling capacity comes in handy during events such as the Cooper River Bridge Run, which attracts nearly 40,000 visitors each year.

For the 22nd year, the Big Taste Grill will visit nearly every region in the continental United States. For the full 2016 schedule, please visit Or, follow the 2016 tour on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

· Charlotte Auto Fair – April 7 in Charlotte, NC

· Bristol NASCAR Race – April 16 in Bristol, TN

· Denton Arts & Jazz Festival – April 29 in Denton, TX

· Good Guys Car Show – May 13 in Nashville, TN

· Belmont Sheffield Music Festival – May 28 in Chicago, IL

· Giant National BBQ Battle – June 26 in Washington, DC

About the Big Taste Grill Crew

Steven Hensley is from Coalfield, Tenn., a rural area with no nearby fast food or restaurants. He learned at a young age that cookouts on the grill for friends and family are an important way of life. Steven studied political science and played football at the University of Tennessee. Upon graduation, he left his corporate job and entered the experiential brand market, working with dozens of Fortune 500 companies since.

Manny Velazquez is a Texas-bred, ranch-raised product who moved to Los Angeles. He's participated in numerous marketing programs and nationwide tours and enjoys entertaining crowds, meeting new people and traveling the world.

 Al Acosta is a Houston-based truck driver with more than 23 years of driving experience. After assisting Johnsonville with a three-month tour in 2015, he is back for more this year. Al and his wife have been married for 36 years. They have three daughters and four grandchildren.


Wisconsin-based Johnsonville Sausage is the No. 1 national sausage brand, featuring: brats, Italian sausage, smoked-cooked links, breakfast sausage, Grillers and meatballs. Johnsonville products are served in 125 professional, college and semi-pro sports stadiums throughout the U.S.

Johnsonville employs approximately 1,600 members. Founded in 1945 by the late Ralph F. and Alice Stayer, the privately held company remains family owned today, providing various sausage products in 40 countries. For additional information, visit