You’d think breakfast and beer would be mutually exclusive but, in reality, they go together like Hall & Oates or … Justin & Britney …
Anyway, since the mid-1600s, Germans in Bavaria have been drinking beer with their morning meal. In England, beer was a usual part of morning sustenance. And brewers have been making ‘breakfast stouts,’ thick and flavorful for folks who want to kick-start their day.
Beer with ham ’n’ eggs or pancakes and bacon has had a long, storied history. As long ago as the Middle Ages, beer was drunk at breakfast—and at most other meals—because of its high calorie count. Even kids drank it, for the sustenance and vitamins it provided. Of course, at that time, beer was rather weak—only one or two percent alcohol. Still, the energy derived from the beverage fueled the labor of the day.
Monks—those holy friars responsible for refining the brewing process—also drank beer for sustenance at dawn and throughout the day, particularly during Lent, when they were forbidden to eat anything other than bread and allowed to drink only water for the entire Lenten season. The Paulaner monks’ beer of choice? In the 1600s, it was doppelbock, a malty, strong brew often called “liquid bread.” The brew has a sweet, malty flavor with little or no hop character.
Another German tradition of imbibing beer early in the day is Fruhscoppen, which translates to “drinking alcohol before noon with company.” Prevalent in Germany and Austria since the 16th century, this morning tradition typically involves weissbier, or “wheat beer.” The breakfast brews were often served with sausages and pretzels after church on Sundays and on holidays.
Since the early 1800s, English folks have observed a morning tradition called “elevenses.” It’s just a second breakfast served at, well, 11 a.m.; usually a light snack with tea enjoyed by the more refined classes of English society. The lower classes often substituted a refreshing ale with their snack—so who’s classier now?
These days, the notion of beer for breakfast is becoming increasingly attractive. For years, two of the most sought-after beers across the nation were Founders Brewing’s Canadian Breakfast Stout and Kentucky Breakfast Stout. While many drank these strong beers in the evening, the fact that the word ‘breakfast’ is part of the name indicates its morning status.
Recently, two bastions of breakfast have gotten in on the action: Dunkin’ and IHOP. Both companies have worked with craft brewers to create their own breakfast beers.
Dunkin’ collaborated with Harpoon Brewery to produce Dunkin’ Coffee Stout, a beer that pays homage to the role Dunkin’ coffee played in the early days of building the Harpoon brand. Not to be outdone, IHOP teamed up with Keegan Ales in Kingston, New York, to brew IHOPS, an autumnally themed quaff with pumpkin spices and a healthy dose of IHOP’s pancake batter. Harpoon’s brew is available nationally right now, but IHOP’s creation can be found only in New York and a few surrounding states and at beer festivals.
So beer for breakfast, then, is not such a new idea. In fact, it’s been a wake-up call for centuries.