Beer Brunch

May 29, 2015

Let’s begin with a quick examination of brunch itself. It usually occurs on weekends when people sleep later and have time to socialize and eat fun foods. The menu has an almost endless range of possibilities, from the usual eggs, bacon and pancakes, to soup, salad and even burgers. There’s basically a bottle of beer for nearly every food served at this meal. And if your friends are beer drinkers, they’re sure to appreciate the switch.

Let’s see what’s on the menu and which beer styles pair best with those items. Pancakes, or something in that family like waffles or French toast are always popular.

These delicacies may be sweet on their own, but they are typically made even sweeter when they’re topped with syrup, chocolate or a fruity concoction. The beers that pair well with these brunch staples are a bit sweeter. Try stouts and porters, especially those brewed with breakfast-friendly ingredients like oats or coffee. Some excellent examples are Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout, a smooth-textured beer with a bittersweet finish, and Sierra Nevada Porter, a delicious, roasty porter with a creaminess that’s perfect for sweeter entrees and desserts.

If you’re serving something on the opposite end of the spectrum, like a spicy breakfast burrito, you’ll want to choose a beer that complements those flavors. Bready, fruity beers that are slightly tart, blend well with foods that have a strong flavor. Styles that fit this category include hefeweizens and saisons, such as Sly Fox Royal Weisse, Hacker-Pschorr Weisse and Allagash Saison. The first two are wheat beers that are very easy to drink and full of fruity citrus flavors, perfect for both summer days, as well as brunch menus. Allagash Saison also boasts a unique, fruity flavor from the use of a traditional Belgian yeast strain, but it also has a nice, peppery spice taste. And the world classic Saison Dupont is a miracle with food.

Eggs, of course, are the most common of all the brunch foods. Although they can be prepared many different ways, they typically have a mild flavor and require a beverage that doesn’t overpower them, like a traditional German-style lager. The beers I would suggest to pair with egg dishes have a delicate balance between malty sweetness and spicy, earthy bitterness. The Crisp from Sixpoint Brewery and Great Lakes Dortmunder Gold are great accompaniments for any omelet.

Your menu is also likely to feature a range of hearty meat items. Bacon, ham, salami, sausage or even sliced turkey or chicken may take center stage at your brunch table. If that’s the case, you’ll want a stronger beer, like a doppelbock, which has a higher alcohol content. Good choices in this category include Ayinger Celebrator, Spaten Optimator, and Paulaner Salvator. All of these full-bodied lagers originated in southern Germany and their complex, strong flavors are hearty enough to stand up to meat dishes.

However, if you are a true traditionalist and can’t part with your Mimosas, there are good beer substitutes that you may enjoy even more. A Belgian White, for example, is highly carbonated like champagne and has a natural orange citrus flavor like a Mimosa. Serve it from a punch bowl to make it more festive. Floating slices of orange will enhance the taste and create a great visual effect. Blue Moon Belgian White, Belgian-Style Wheat Ale is so refreshing on a warm summer day. Of course, brunch can be a simple affair. One great beer and a slice of delicious coffee cake might be the way to go. Weyerbacher’s spring seasonal release, Sunday Morning Stout could steal the show. This American Imperial coffee stout aged in bourbon barrels was made to pair with breakfast foods. The aromas of roasted coffee and bourbon awaken your senses, while their flavors blend with hints of chocolate, roasted malt, vanilla and caramel. It’s the perfect start to a Sunday morning.

With all the possibilities, a beer brunch is clearly the perfect way to entertain this summer. Have fun. Stay cool. And drink up!

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