For far too long, leisurely weekend breakfasts have been in a stranglehold by mimosas and bloody marys. Beer, considered an afternoon drink, has had no place on most breakfast tables. Even breakfast stouts often found themselves out of the equation in favor of the fizzy, the citrusy, and the champagne-supercharged beverages foisted upon us by Big Brunch. But with craft brewing in the United States creating the most off-kilter beers the world has ever seen, it’s time to bring beer back to the breakfast table. These beers for breakfast will help.
Brewers have harnessed the best properties of fruit, maple syrup, chocolate, and other flavors allowing you to have your huevos with a side of buzz. And even better, the best beers to drink for breakfast range in alcohol by volume (ABV) as well as style, meaning that you can begin the day with a whopping 12 percent barleywine, or take things easy with a mid-range tea-infused pale ale.
Spring Pale Ale by The Bronx Brewery
This is a stout-heavy list, so let’s begin with something a bit unconventional but just as breakfast-y as the rest. The Bronx Brewery is one of New York City’s newest and best breweries, representing the borough in a city filled with Brooklyn beers. Dedicated to brewing pale ales almost exclusively, the Bronx Brewery’s masterminds have pushed pale ale to its limits with a year-round collection of different takes on the same style. Their Spring Pale Ale has a light, refreshing tea taste, featuring a blend of black and chamomile teas brewed to balance the beer’s sweet, piney hoppiness. In a world where dark beers dominate the breakfast table, this pale ale stands above the rest as a much-needed alternative to coffee stouts.
Cherry Murderous: The Lookout by Pipeworks Brewing Company
Chicago’s Pipeworks Brewing Company is known for three things: some of the craziest-named beers on the market (including their IPA, Ninja vs. Unicorn), off-beat label artwork, and inventive takes on classic beer styles. For Cherry Murderous, Pipeworks took a gamble on creating a high-gravity beer that balances sweetness against its inherent booziness. The beer manages to maintain a fresh cherry taste against strong notes of chocolate, toffee, and molasses. Pair it with a big plate of waffles, covered in syrup, with a generous portion of strawberries on the side. Save the bacon and eggs for another day, because a big beer like this goes best with a sweet breakfast.
Imperial Biscotti Break by Evil Twin
This full-bodied imperial stout tastes like ice cream soup. Evil Twin is known for being a nomadic brewer, and this collaboration brought the team down to South Carolina’s Westbrook Brewing Co. The end result is a beer that is better than biscotti, chocolate ice cream, and chocolate syrup blended together. And at 11.5 percent alcohol by volume, it packs a wallop that doesn’t wipe out an entire Sunday’s worth of (moderate) productivity. After all, it’s called Imperial Biscotti Break, not Imperial Biscotti Blackout.
Valencia Gold by Almanac Beer Co.
This sweet beer should be a go-to for people who love a good mimosa but want to break the mold. San Francisco’s Almanac Beer Co. created a brew that pairs Valencia oranges with the best qualities of a West Coast-style Belgian. The brewers added Mandarina Bavaria hops to punch up the beer’s sweet, citrusy taste with floral hoppiness.Valencia Gold is an easy sipper that can go with whatever food you throw at it.
Tres Blueberry Stout by Dark Horse Brewing Co.
Fruity beers once needed to be light ales, but no longer. Intrepid brewers like Michigan’s Dark Horse Brewing Co. are pairing blueberries with rich chocolate malts and molasses to create beers that are practically made to pair with a high stack of blueberry pancakes. Tres Blueberry Stout smells like a pint of fresh blueberries at first crack, only to mellow out against a milk chocolatey flavor that lingers on the tongue without being overpowering.
Bomb! by Prairie Artisan Ales
Bomb! starts off innocent and chocolatey, only to hit you in the tonsils with a jalapeño kick. It combines the best of a coffee stout with the funky spiciness of Mexican chocolate. Each bottle is aged on Tulsa, Oklahoma’s own Nordaggios Coffee espresso beans as well as vanilla, creating a beer that packs a punch without being obnoxiously spicy or cloyingly sweet. Even for a dark beer, it holds its own against a big Tex-Mex breakfast—so go ahead and throw a Bomb! at a breakfast burrito.
20th Anniversary Encore Series: 12th Anniversary Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout by Stone Brewing Company
A nod to the brewery’s nascent days in Escondido, CA, it’s one of the better stouts on the market right now. Back in 2008, there was a worldwide hop shortage that threatened Stone’s hop-heavy portfolio. So what did its brewers do? They came up with a bitter chocolate, spicy beer that eschewed hop bitterness for a different kind of kick. This stout is complex, robust, and provides a unique punch without feeling gimmicky or over the top. It’s the kind of beer you can drink alongside your morning coffee without either beverage tasting out of place. It’s not often you get to say that about a beer, but Stone’s brew is just sweet and bitter enough to pair well with a good cup of joe.
Dino S’mores by Off Color Brewing
Off Color has created the best Russian Imperial Stout this side of the Atlantic. Dino S’mores lives up to its name—a freshly uncapped bottle smells like a liquid s’more. The beer blends chocolate, marshmallow, and graham crackery goodness into a high-gravity sipper. But be careful, the cute little mice on the label belie the potent beer within. Dino S’mores clocks in at 10.5 ABV, making this dessert-in-a-glass a potential day-stopper.
Brian O’Connor is a deputy web editor at Foreign Affairs, as well as a writer about beer, food, and good times. He’s an amateur homebrewer and a semi-professional imbiber. Follow him @briantoconnor_.