Mug Shots: Beer for breakfast
You don’t need to climb to the top of the nearest mountain for a consultation with the resident guru to know that you can’t drink all day if you don’t start in the morning.
I’m not referring to hair of the dog (lowercase), although Hair of the Dog (uppercase) remains a respected small-batch, high-gravity Oregon brewer of beer that just might succeed in curing a hangover when judiciously consumed during the morning hours after a long evening’s debauchery.
But this isn’t where I’m proposing to go this week.
Given that even the most amateur of drinkers can imbibe all night, eventually see the sun rise, and then trundle off to Waffle House for a bleary prelude to crashing, Mr. Mug Shot is all about vigorously raising the bar, and as such, it is my pleasure to inform readers that revolutionary plans are afoot to stage the first local breakfast food and beer pairing — and to do it chronologically, in the morning, at breakfast, and not later in the day.
Just bring a designated driver and leave Count Chocula at home, although a purely redundant case might be made for Corn Flakes and American cream ale.
OK, to be honest, I’ve no idea whether this pairing idea is original, or if it has been done previously. It probably has, although I take pride in the ability of my coterie of friends and customers to plumb the breadth of fermentables and foodstuffs to uncover crazed new combinations, and their suggestions (below) already form the basis of a germinating concept.
Moreover, the overarching aim in establishing food and beer pairings for breakfast is to liberate beer from its hackneyed “something ice-cold to drink after work” tradition.
I’ll never forget arriving in Munich after an overnight train trip from the Belgian Riviera, and strolling on a warm summer morning to the Augustiner restaurant and beer hall on the main pedestrian street. There, surrounded by people pausing for a bite (and a nip) on their way to work, I indulged in the classic Bavarian breakfast of champions: delicately seasoned Weisswurst (white sausage) meant for extraction from the casing with a fork, slathered with sweet mustard, accompanied with a crusty roll, and washed down with tall, cool Hefe Weizen — a Bavarian-style wheat ale, redolent of fruit and cloves, and always a reliable option at 8 a.m.
That’s one irrefutable way of looking at beer with breakfast. Here are a few others, as contributed by my friends during a recent Facebook discussion.
• Forget traditional beverages. Instead of coffee, drink Great Divide Yeti Espresso Stout. Omit the Mimosa, and substitute Lindemans Peche (sweetened peach) Lambic. Rather than apple juice, turn to Unibroue Ephemere. As a rule, Belgian Wit ales are spiced with orange peel, so chuck the OJ. Tea? Get a growler of Cumberland Brewery’s Yerba Mate Pale Ale, and while you’re at it, grab any craft brew that uses Cascades as a finishing hop and save on grapefruit juice.
• Kippers (delightful smoked herring) served on dense Scandinavian flatbread, with Baltic Porter (Okocim, Zwiec, Sinebrychoff) or pickled herring and Celebrator Doppelbock
• For a salmon, caper, onion, mushroom and cheese omelet, I’d like to try hoppy, herbal Northern German pilsner like Jever.
• Stone-Smoked Porter or Schlenkerla Rauchbier Marzen to go with any spicy sausage, whether patties or links
• If Dark Horse Blueberry Stout is available or a Maple Porter can be found, use one of them for a reduction, drench pancakes with it, and accompany with authentic, funky, sour Belgian Lambic to cut the sweetness.
• Dunkel Weizen (dark German wheat ale) with Eggs Benedict
• Beer-batter biscuits, sausage gravy and malty American Amber
• Waffles with cardamom apples and a Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout
• Yummy Tripel Karmeliet with french toast
• Goat cheese frittata with a malty French Biere de Garde — if the cheese itself is stinky, switch the beer to a hop bomb: Hoptimus, anyone?
You’ll notice that bacon has been left out of these suggestions. That’s because it should be obvious that bacon goes with any beer, and any beer goes with bacon. Stay tuned for details, and send your dream breakfast-and-beer pairings to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Roger Baylor is co-owner of the New Albanian Brewing Co. in New Albany. Visit potablecurmudgeon.blogspot.com for more beer.