Bloody Marys and mimosas may be typical go-to tipples during boozy breakfasts and brunches, but today's endless variety of beer styles and flavors are compelling alternatives for morning imbibing. From beers brewed with breakfast-friendly ingredients (oats, coffee and even scrapple) to European traditions, it's time you explore what craft beer can bring to your a.m.
Here are four ways to bring more beer to breakfast.
Stouts and porters — whose darkly roasted malts match the flavor of coffee beans — are the most common styles of beer that use coffee, and there are as many variations on the coffee stout theme as there are permutations of espresso and milk drinks. Speedway Stout from San Diego's AleSmith Brewing is one of the classic coffee beers, and the new 16-ounce cans of the potent brew (12% alcohol) are perfect to share over bacon and pancakes.
Coffee also is finding its way into styles besides the malt-driven stouts, and there are some coffee IPAs that find a harmony between the brighter and fruitier coffee roasts and citrusy hops. Locally, Coffee Del IPA from Claremont Craft Ales deftly brings the two aromatic ingredients together.
One culture in which beer for breakfast has a particularly long history is Germany, and a tall vase of hefeweizen is the traditional accompaniment to the "second breakfast" common in Bavaria. Light, spritzy and fragrant with yeasty aromas, hefeweizen is a wonderful option for a breakfast beer, whether you're enjoying a light meal or tucking into a more hearty spread. American-made hefeweizen can range from fruity and refreshingly tart to more spice-driven and grainy. Black Market Brewing in Temecula makes a well-balanced hefeweizen that fits easily into breakfast, while Heavenly Hefe from Craftsman Brewing in Pasadena may be the finest hefeweizen in Los Angeles (though you'll have to find it on draft as Craftsman does not yet package its beer).
The Belgian wit style is another international brew that is comfortable at breakfast. With a light body and energetic effervescence, Witbiers are similar to hefeweizens, but the Belgian wheat beers are flavored with orange peel and spices. If you're a fan of mimosas, try Allagash White.
Also known as cerveza preparada, the zesty combination of lime juice, spices and Mexican lager is a popular alternative to the bloody Mary. And there are limitless variations on the Michelada theme. Some use tomato juice, some Clamato, while others forgo the tomato entirely and lean heavily on the lime juice component. However you mix them, a Michelada is improved with a flavorful craft beer. Experiment with different combinations on Sundays at Indie Brewing Co.'s weekly Michelada bar at the tasting room, try one of the standout craft beer Micheladas during brunch at Eagle Rock Brewery Public House or turn any beer into a Michelada for $1 at San Fernando Brewing Co.'s taproom.
Breakfast in your brew
From fruit to shellfish, craft brewers will add just about anything to a brew in the name of experimentation. Delaware's Dogfish Head Brewery is no exception. They once used chocolate and Maine lobsters in a beer, and they've toyed with more. They also made a beer specifically with breakfast in mind. Beer for Breakfast is a stout that not only features coffee and maple syrup, but also scrapple. The loaf of pork trimmings and cornmeal is a breakfast staple in northeastern states, and it provides an earthy and spicy background to Dogfish Head's over-the-top ode to the breakfast stout genre.
If you're unsure about a pork-powered breakfast beer, how about oranges instead? Sierra Nevada Brewing has joined the fruit-in-beer movement with a citrus-heavy take on their iconic pale ale. Sidecar blends some fruity hop aromas with two doses of orange peel for a breakfast-ready pint, and it's widely available in six packs.
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