Queen City Sausage Company' Elmer Hensler Story!

30 July, 14
Creating, living and appreciating the American Dream!
Few companies and even far less people can look at their life story and realize the close association it has with the concept of the American Dream. To many, the American Dream means being self made! It also embodies starting at the bottom, with few resources and slowly rising to the top all on your own.  The Dream also contains critical elements of things that cannot be taught such as perseverance, vision, passion and commitment. Elmer Hensler, founder and president of Queen City Sausage Company is a great, living example of the American Dream in action.
Waking up at 4:00 AM each morning can be challenging. Especially if you are 12 years old and still have a full day of grade school ahead of you. This was 1942 and Cincinnati’s West End was the meat packing district for Cincinnati.  Basically Elmer just showed up at a local slaughterhouse, just blocks away from his home. When asked why they hired him especially at such a young age, Elmer said at first they didn’t. “I just showed up early each morning and started sweeping and cleaning. I basically did anything I could to be helpful.” “As weeks went by I was slowly given real responsibilities and was given some money each week.” Keep in mind that Elmer had to be at school at 8:00 AM. This set the pace for a very long progressive career in the meat business. From the killing floor to creating his own sausage company, Queen City Sausage, in 1965,
Fast forward to today’s Queen City Sausage Company, which has grown into a regional powerhouse brand. While it may seem like only yesterday, Elmer and his company have been in business over 49 years. The company has earned a profit every single year since inception. 
There are no layoffs, ever.  Kroger is the largest customer and the company serves all of the regions’ retailers including Walmart, Sam’s, GFS and Meijer. Queen City is best known for its signature brat and mettwurst as well as a full line of sausages and deli meats. Queen City is the official bratwurst and mettwurst of the Reds.
Product innovation is important but the company moves carefully here. Recent introductions include a Beef and Swiss sausage, Goetta Dawg, and Bierwurst.
Queen City Sausage is heavily involved with the community, especially with an enormous sampling program at local charitable run events. Over 35,000 sausage samples are served free each year.
Elmer Hensler, at 84, arrives daily at the plant. He invites customers to visit, tour, and stay for an informal lunch where he serves freshly prepared sausages to the guests. For sales meetings taking place outside of the plant, Elmer insists that the skillet come to the meetings along with a selection of sausages, condiments, and buns. It is just his way of doing business. Elmer’s’ motto is “Never cheapen the product!” And he lives and guides the plant by this every day. 
Mark Balasa

Home is Where the Locals Live

26 November, 13

This is third in a series of articles called Queen City Chronicles.  The image aboveis a very young Elmer  (2nd from left)at home in Cincinnati around 1947.

We recently invited a new neighbor for lunch at Queen City Sausage Co. The lunch of course consisted of freshly made brats, metts, and a new Goetta Dog link. We had heard about a new start-up company called Noble Denim and found out Noble had set up stakes just down the road on Spring Grove Ave. The owner and sole proprietor, Chris Sutton makes denim jeans by hand, one pair at a time. During our lunch Chris told us about his commitment to being local and making products that matter right here. We were all ears!

Noble Denim stands out to us because like our founder and owner, Elmer Hensler back in 1965, Chris has the guts to strike out on his own and begin his own company. Additionally, Chris is very excited about “local.” We support “local” every chance we get. We are local! 

In a world that continues to get smaller with better technology there seems to be a movement to bring back manufacturing and supporting local foods and business. Queen City Sausage never left and we are excited to see this trend stick. Noble Denim is a great example of this.

Queen City Sausage looks for ways to further support local companies and charity events. For example our sausages are widely sold by the local Findlay Market vendors.  We support the local teams; Reds and Bengals.  To further help support and engage personally with the local community we sample over 35,000 sausages and Goetta Sliders at no charge. We do this to support events such as the Heart Mini Marathon, and Flying Pig to name just a few. There is no charge. It is just one way to give back at a local level.

We are local! We love local! We support local! How about you?

Mark Balasa

The Lost Art of Sausage Making Thrives at Local Cincinnati Sausage Co.

22 November, 13

This is second in a series of articles called Queen City Chronicles. Image from 1966.

One of the best decisions Queen City Sausage Co. founder and president Elmer Hensler (Center) ever made was to start his new company with authentic German recipes. Not only were the recipes perfected, they were created by two trusted master sausage makers who became Elmer’s original partners; Alois Stadler (Left), and George Nagel (right).  Master sausage makers are almost a thing of the past. 

You see, when you are starting something new and meaningful it’s the fundamentals that just have to be right. For us, it was the recipes and ingredients.  How can great sausages be great without old world knowledge blending together pork, beef, hand mixed spices, and real hickory wood smoke? This is what we do daily, with real people who live in the surrounding community.

Elmer’s Queen City Sausage Company continues to grow and be the sausage of choice in the Greater Cincinnati Region. It is no accident that after almost 50 years Elmer made it! It’s all about the basic fundamentals! Elmer’s famous quote: “Never cheapen the product! Ever!”

Keeping it real! Keeping it Authentic! “Made in Cincinnati!”

Mark Balasa

Queen City Sausage Co. Chronicles! Real Hickory Wood Smoke!

12 November, 13


This is the first article in a series we are calling Queen City Sausage Chronicles. Chronicles is all about storytelling with an insider’s view into a company that still produces sausages with a hands-on approach, best ingredients and processes possible. In short, this is a story that continues to unfold. It is about sharing and educating. It’s about offering things that matter.

Our company is based on our founder, Elmer Hensler’s principles and products. These principles were created back in the 1950’s when Elmer began to take on more responsibilities in the meat industry he had grown up in.

Principles are made to guide and keep individuals, groups, and people on course. Elmer Hensler’s principles do just that for us at the Queen City Sausage Co. Elmer’s motto from which much of his principles derive from are; “Never cheapen your product!” Ever! With this in mind, let’s talk about real Hickory Wood Smoke.”

Real Hickory Wood Smoke

Queen City Sausage is located in Cincinnati. We are the largest independent sausage maker left in the city and we happen to use real Hickory Wood Smoke. The neighborhood fills up with the smell of slow burning hickory when our freshly made sausages enter the smokehouses. Hickory wood produces a very sweet, smoke flavor, perfect for sausage.

Real Hickory Wood Smoke is expensive. Many sausage makers (most) use inexpensive liquid smoke that coats the sausages and cuts corners. Queen City’s Real Hickory Wood Smoke imparts a slow release of smoke flavor that invokes centuries of craftsmanship and care. The resulting taste is unmatched and delicious!

We just want you to know about the importance of Real Hickory Wood Smoke. We also want you to know that Elmer is still at the helm of this mighty, yet small company he created nearly 50 years ago. He makes sure you will only get the best he can possibly make. Everything matters! Principles endure!

To be continued.

Mark Balasa

Queen City Sausage Company


Best Tasting Thanksgiving Stuffing! Cincinnati Style! Hint: Goetta!

12 November, 13

Note: This is a very timely re-post from November 2012. Enjoy!

A few years ago, my friend Matt Grimes, the owner of the Colonial Cottage Inn Restaurant in Erlanger KY created this wonderful Goetta Stuffing recipe. As I indicated to Matt, this is the best tasting stuffing I have ever had. The Cottage serves this delicious treat for a limited-time during the holidays. With Matt’s permission, I am posting the recipe. Queen City goetta is actually about 60% less fat than the competition yet delivers the full goetta flavor and experience. No MSG. Try this recipe for yourself. Better yet, stop by the historic Colonial Cottage Inn Restaurant and taste for yourself. Yum! Happy Thanksgiving! Mark Balasa Goetta

  • Stuffing Recipe 1 ¼ lbs. of Queen City Goetta
  • 7 ½ oz. Breadcrumbs 2 Cups White Onions (Chopped)
  • 2-3 Cups of Water 2 Cups Celery (Chopped)
  • ½ Tsp. Poultry Seasoning
  • ½ Tsp. White Pepper ½ Tsp. Sage
  • ½ Tsp. Italian Seasoning
  • ¼ Lb. Butter
  • 1 Tsp. Garlic (Granulated)
  • 2 Tbsp. Turkey Base (Optional)


  1. In a large skillet over medium heat crumble and brown the goetta. 
  2. Remove from skillet to cool. Do not drain.
  3. Chop onions and celery. Combine ingredients in a large mixing bowl adding water last.
  4. Stuff mixture into a prepared fresh turkey and bake at 325 degrees for about 15 minutes per pound of turkey.



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