Anyone born and raised below Maryland—or any politician campaigning in the South for that matter—will tell you just how vital a bowl of steaming grits is on a morning breakfast table. Whether they’re savory, sweet, or cheesy, grits are a quick, easy meal. They’re democratic, ubiquitous, and expected in the best way. Throwing them in a beer, however? Well, that’s a little more out of the blue.
But grits are exactly what you’ll find listed in the ingredients—the grain bill in brewing speak—of Grits ‘N’ Greens, the latest beer by Brooklyn's Other Half Brewing. A collaboration with the Athens, GA-based Creature Comforts Brewing Co., Grits ‘N’ Greens is a buttery, toasty pilsner with a mellow, aroma-heavy hop profile. The beer is loaded with Georgia-grown wheat and grits, shipped directly from the idyllic Peach State countryside to a warehouse space in industrial Gowanus. The “greens,” a mix of Wakatu, Wai-iti, and Nelson Sauvin hops from New Zealand (otherwise known as the Deep, Deep, Deep South) keep the brew’s sweetness tempered with a tropical, floral aroma.
Although Grits ‘N’ Greens might not be a beer you’d have for breakfast, this unique pilsner’s ingredients wouldn’t be out of place in a morning spread. And, according to Sam Richardson, Other Half’s Co-Founder and Brewmaster, the same could be said for most beers, too.
“I feel like beer is always breakfast related,” Richardson said during an interview at Other Half’s Brooklyn brewery and taproom. “We use a lot of oats, a lot of wheat, and a lot of barley in our beer,” as they are essential ingredients in the beer-making process. “You could say we make 2,000 pounds of breakfast cereal every morning.”
He’s not far off the mark. The leftover grain looks a lot like Grape Nuts, and is just as edible as it was before—if not a little less sweet. In fact, many homebrewers use it in anything from bread to biscuits.
As for grits in your beer glass, don’t expect a thick, stick-to-your-ribs experience. The addition of grits in beer actually has the opposite effect than what you’d find in your cereal bowl. The starches in corn break down into sugars when they boil at high temperatures. This means higher sugar extraction, which gives the beer a crisp, dry flavor after it’s done fermenting. For a pilsner, though, that’s just what you’re looking for. Grits ‘N’ Greens is the first beer of its kind for Other Half, which is known for its IPA-heavy rotation.
Now, of course, to drink it. If you want to get your hands on Grits ‘N’ Greens, you’ll have to move fast. Just like most of Other Half’s beers, supply is extremely limited in cans, and only a little easier to come by via taps. The brewery has gained a reputation that has overshadowed its capacity, which has left its devoted followers to line up for hours when new releases become available. The same was true for the Grits ‘N’ Grains release, which had beer geeks queueing for blocks in the early morning hours. Although there’s no word on what they had for breakfast while they waited to buy a four-pack, if it were beer, Richardson wouldn’t judge.
“I think you can have any beer for breakfast, depending on your lifestyle.”