Milwaukee, WI,
17:17 PM

Big Taste Grill Supports USS Milwaukee 11/21 Commissioning Event

Johnsonville's Grill Fires Up for Record-Breaking Tour End

The Johnsonville Big Taste Grill™ returned to its home state this week, wrapping up its 8-month tour at the historic commissioning ceremony for the USS Milwaukee on Saturday, Nov. 21 at Veterans Park.

The Big Taste Grill had planned to grill 15,000 brats – more than 2,000 per hour – breaking its own record for a single-day event and feeding thousands of attendees registered for the commissioning ceremony. However, wintry weather and cold temperatures kept the original attendance plan down, and Johnsonville grilled 9,000 brats instead. The USS Milwaukee is the Navy’s newest littoral combat ship and the second commissioning ceremony in Milwaukee’s harbor. Tickets for the commissioning ceremony were all called for and 20,000 spectators were expected to attend

Event Information:

What: USS Milwaukee Commissioning Ceremony

Where: Veteran’s Park, Downtown Milwaukee, Wis.

When: Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015 – 1 pm

The leftover brats were donated to The Hunger Task Force.

Officially launched in 1995 for Johnsonville’s 50th anniversary, the Big Taste Grill provides more than just tasty-tailgate sausages at special events and retail locations across the country. The 53,000-pound grill also raises money for local charities.

In 2015 alone, the Johnsonville Big Taste Grill raised more than $132,000 and served more than 124,000 brats. Over  its 21 years on the road, the Big Taste Grill program has raised nearly $4 million for charities nationwide, many of them local community organizations. 

The Johnsonville Big Taste Grill tour by the numbers:

  • Number of brats grilled & served on the Big Taste Grill in 2015: Approximately 124,225
  • Number of attendees at 2015 Big Taste Grill events: 3.3 million
  • Number of miles traveled: Nearly 30,000
  • Number of festivals and community event appearances: 123
  • Number of charities which have benefitted from the Big Taste Grill proceeds: 42
  • Dollars raised for charity organizations in 2015: $132,000
  • Dollars raised for local organizations throughout the U.S. since 1995: Nearly $4 million

The Johnsonville Big Taste Grill is not your average backyard barbecue. Measuring 65 feet long, this giant grill can keep 12 grillmasters busy cooking more than 750 brats at a time or 2,500 brats per hour. A semi-truck pulls the grill cross-country and the whole system is self-sufficient with hot and cold running water, electricity, sound system, a prep station, and refrigeration.


About the USS Milwaukee:

  • The USS Milwaukee  is part of a new breed of U.S. Navy combat ships designed for littoral (close to the shore) or coastal missions.
  • The USS Milwaukee was built by the Lockheed Martin-led LCS industry team at the Fincantieri Marinette Marine shipyard in NE Wisconsin. 
  • The ship will join her sister Freedom-variant littoral combat ships, USS Freedom and USS Fort Worth, in the fleet.
  • Ship sponsor Sylvia Panetta, the wife of former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, christened the ship in December 2013 in Marinette, Wis.
  • The ship is not officially a part of the US Navy fleet until Saturday's commissioning ceremony.
  • This is the fifth USS Milwaukee to be commissioned, but the first to be built in Wisconsin.
  • USS Milwaukee ships have served in the Civil War, World War II and the Vietnam War.
  • The new USS Milwaukee can operate in shallow water and is built for high speeds. It will be the fastest USS Milwaukee in history, capable of traveling up to 45 knots.