Jennifer Yin / Flickr
Mimosas and Bloody Marys aren’t uncommon at brunch. And while we certainly have nothing against a Saturday or Sunday morning buzz, we think you can do better. After all, mimosas and Bloodys are a little basic, don’tcha think? And you -- you’re a trendsetter. You do things a little differently from everyone else. You know that if you pair just the right beer with your morning meal that you’ll improve it by exactly 945%. That’s not a statistic we made up -- that’s science.
Okay fine, we made that up. But we do truly believe in the magic of pairing beer and brunch (or breakfast, if you’re nasty).
One man who knows this better than anyone is a booze-and-food-pairing expert, Sean Z. Paxton, The Home Brew Chef. This man is a serious brewer (having collaborated on some fantastic beer with 10 Barrel Brewing in Bend, OR), and a serious talent in the kitchen (having made dinner for me and a bunch of other lucky journalists one magical night). Now, Paxton has selected some delicious craft beers from all across the country to pair with any breakfast or brunch item you could possibly encounter. We dare you to read this and not get hungry. And thirsty.
Pair it with: Lindemans Oude Gueuze Cuvée René
Why it’ll taste great: “A crispy toasted English muffin with a seared piece of Canadian bacon, a perfectly poached egg, and a rich and creamy hollandaise sauce cries for some acid to help cut the inherent decadence of this breakfast staple,” Paxton says. Keep your Benedict from crying by pairing it with a beer from the Belgium-based lambic brewery Lindemans. Their Oude Gueuze Cuvée René has acid, a touch of lemon, and is “a carbonated wonderland that helps scrub the palate of the silky, eggy sauce and the runny yolk, all while bringing a touch of ‘farmhouse funk’ to complement the dish.”
Pair it with: Trillium Pot & Kettle Oatmeal Porter
Why it’ll taste great: Paxton notes that since French toast is so dang decadent (what with its caramelized sugars and maple syrup), you need something to “stand up to those flavors.” Yeah, you protest those French toast flavors, beer! Oh, is that...is that not what he meant? Regardless, the beloved Boston brewery’s Pot & Kettle is undeniably a match for the sweet treat: the English porter has “velvety smooth oats that add mouthfeel and complexity,” along with dried fruit notes of cherry, prune, raisins, and dates. You know what goes great with smooth oats and fruit notes? (Holy crap, that rhymes!) French toast! (Still rhymes!)
Pair it with: Sierra Nevada Sidecar Orange Pale Ale
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Why it’ll taste great: If anyone in your home makes a mimosa, feel free to yawn in their face for being so boring, and then grab a Sierra Sidecar out of the fridge. You’ll get similar flavors in a beery package. “A Sierra Nevada Sidecar Orange Pale Ale is like a glass of adult orange juice, full of citrus bite, with a touch of bitterness that rounds out to an orange orchard,” he says. My, that’s a lot of orange. But you need the oranges, because eating cold pizza in the AM usually means you had a pretttttty rough night. It also usually means that you’re consuming toppings that include “solidified sausage fat, bell peppers, onions, and pepper flakes.” It’s going to take a flavorful beer to cut through those flavors. Even better, Paxton says the malt backbone of the beer “enhances the pizza crust’s yeasty flavors and bready texture.”
Quiche Lorraine with Bacon and Bleu Cheese
Pair it with: Bell’s Amber Ale
Why it’ll taste great: Kalamazoo is such a fun word to say. It’s also a fun place to be, thanks in part to the stalwart Bell’s, which has been brewing consistently great beers since 1983. And Paxton thinks that the brewery’s Amber is the perfect pairing for the French breakfast classic. “The crust (along with the touch of onion in the eggy custard) work beautifully with the beer’s caramel, toasted grain, and hint of earthy roast,” he says. But the hop components in the beer really take things to the next level. “The beer’s citrusy, herbal, and floral hops play with the creamy, tangy blue cheese, and the fatty bacon essence,” notes Paxton. I never thought I’d type this sentence before, but…I need to get me some quiche.
Pair it with: Founders Centennial IPA
Why it’ll taste great: First and foremost, Paxton made it clear to us that if you’re going to pair Founders with the Toucan Sam’s favorite cereal, you need to cover that business in whole milk. He didn’t offer a reason, but we’re going to guess it’s because it tastes really good. Why he paired the cereal with the Michigan brewery’s beer is much more clear: “The tangerine, pine, and citrusy elements of this brew add a touch of acid that fully enhances the fruit and berry notes in this classic breakfast cereal,” he says. Founders is part of a complete breakfast.
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Hamburger with a Sunny-Side Egg
Pair it with: Wicked Weed French Toast Imperial Stout
Why it’ll taste great: While a burger with an egg on top is solidly in the -unch part of the brunch equation, this beer is way more in the br- camp. The barrel-aging experts from Asheville, NC’s Wicked Weed make a “cinnamon, vanilla, and maple syrup brew that adds sweetness to the savory burger meat” on your plate, Paxton says. It’s the same confluence of delicious flavors that makes bacon “accidentally” covered in maple syrup taste so dang good.
Bowl of Oatmeal with Maple Syrup and Brown Sugar
Pair it with: Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar
Why it’ll taste great: As someone who eats oatmeal fairly regularly (baller alert!), I can confidently say I’ve never even come close to thinking beer could be a decent pairing option. And yet, Paxton now has me convinced: “When Hazelnut Brown Nectar is served with a creamy bowl of oats with a drizzle of maple syrup and brown sugar, its rich brown malts add a touch of roast, along with vanilla and hazelnut undertones,” he says.
Now I’m wondering if it’d be good to drizzle some of that beer on the oatmeal. What the hell -- I’m gonna go for it. While I may have to answer to the chef for officiating such an unconventional wedding, fortunately, no one is going to judge you for experimenting -- so have fun! Try to pair some of the beers in your fridge with whatever you’re cooking up for your next morning meal. Even if it doesn’t taste great, at least you’ll get a nice buzz going before noon. Win/win.