A burger for breakfast? No way. A burger for lunch? Of course, but it’s only 10am I don’t think I can have lunch this early. A burger for brunch? Absolutely. Brunch is a favorite past time of a lot of New Yorkers on the weekend. While it’s usually an excuse to drink early in the day, it also helps fill in that awkward grazing time between the early AM and the early afternoon. At 10 in the morning I don’t think I could usually, but it’s not actually breakfast, its brunch. There’s that wonderful culinary loophole and while the two famous brunch drinks are Mimosas and Bloody Mary’s, this Beer Friend asks why not a beer?
While food pairing is popular in wine, food pairing in beer is gaining ground even in some top rated restaurants. More and more brewery websites are including beer/food pairing recommendations as well - take Brooklyn Breweries for instance. Homebrew books and beer dictionaries are also including advice and sections on pairing, so if you want to start thinking down these lines the information is readily available.
Thinking about a typical brunch menu – eggs, pancakes, French toast – nothing makes you want to reach for the stout. With beer pairing, as with its brother disciplines, it’s not necessarily about the food specifically, but about how each of the items in the meal compliments the other flavors as a whole. In a few Beer Friends video reviews we’ve mentioned what kind of meal we’d have the beer with. One episode that comes to mind is a Christmas Ale with a stronger nutmeg and cinnamon finish, pairing with a ham and sweet potatoes is perfect. So, keeping in mind the taste of the food – what to have with brunch?
With eggs, the basic breakfast food, try a simple Lager or Ale. Avoid anything with a strong taste that’s going to overpower the taste of the food, a good rule of thumb. Eggs typically have a simple taste, spiced with what salt, pepper or Tabasco you put on it. Keep the beer choice simple – lager or ale.
Pancakes are typically a sweeter taste. Pancakes can be made very plain but usually involve a little butter and sugary syrup. Reach for the sweeter beer to compliment the sweetness of the syrup. However, if you’re the type to order chocolate chip pancakes – who isn’t? – perhaps a lighter stout will compliment the chocolate flavor in the pancakes. Speaking of the stout why not replace that run of the mill, daily work commute cup o’ joe with a Coffee Stout or a Gorilla Warfare American porter from Sixpoint which is brewed with coffee from Park Slopes’ own Gorilla Coffee.
A French toast recipe usually includes cinnamon and a few even include nutmeg. This one can be more difficult because you don’t always know how powerful the cinnamon/nutmeg flavor is. Fortunately this can be a seasonal pairing with a winter or Christmas type brew.
Looking for a lighter pairing? Try a general wheat or Hefeweizen beer that will compare to a mimosa or glass of orange juice.
Overall beer with brunch is a great idea – as long as you have the right beer, and as long as it doesn’t have the word “Light” in the title.