Joshua M. Bernstein
On January 11, sometime around sunrise, thousands of beer-drinking Floridians began flocking to Funky Buddha Brewery, located outside of Fort Lauderdale. Who wanted brews before eating pancakes or eggs?
As the sun rose, the line and anticipation swelled. At 11 a.m., Funky Buddha employees gave the all clear and the line inched forward. Attendees exchanged $15 in cash for a wristband that allowed them to grab a bottle of Maple Bacon Coffee Porter, one of the most lusted-after porters in America. Over the day, around 4,000 attendees snapped up the allotted 3,000 bottles, demand far outstripping supply.
"The beer tastes like breakfast at a roadside dinner," says Funky Buddha's brand director, John Linn. "We want to create beers that you can sip and taste a dish or evoke a memory. And breakfast has many memorable flavors."
Welcome to the eye-opening world of breakfast beer. Breweries countrywide have begun turning to the day's first meal for inspiration, tossing oats, coffee, maple syrup, milk sugar, tea, and even Dutch appelstroop into the brew kettle, devising brews fit for at the breakfast table. Rhode Island's state beverage, coffee milk, is re-created in Narragansett's Autocrat Coffee Milk Stout. Coffee also stars in Founders' fittingly named Breakfast Stout, while tea lovers will welcome Rogness's chai-inspired Yogi. Crave a bacon-topped doughnut? Try Rogue's Bacon Maple Ale. If you'd rather have a breakfast-focused beer with healthier aims, look toward Martin House's Day Break.
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The head brewer of Martin House was toying around with lactose (or milk sugar), different malts, and honey, realizing that the beer mimicked a bowl of cereal. "We've had comparisons to Honey Nut Cheerios," says David Wedemeier, co-founder of the Fort Worth, Texas-based brewery, adding that the beer is his best-selling brand. "People usually laugh when we describe the beer, but then they usually ask for seconds."
Perhaps this signals the dawn of a new era of American beer drinking, one in which mimosas and bloodies are joined by beer bottles. "You can totally drink Maple Bacon Coffee Porter with breakfast with some bacon and pancakes," enthuses Funky Buddha's Linn. Narragansett president Mark Hellendrung seconds the sunrise pairing. "I'm not saying you should replace your morning cup of joe with beer every day, but cracking open a cold one at brunch or while tailgating is perfectly acceptable, if not encouraged."
Here are 11 morning-themed beers worthy of sampling during brunch. Or breakfast. We're not judging.