Editor's Note: We're trying to find the best beers to drink with our favorite Serious Eats recipes. Certified Cicerone Michael Agnew is here to help.
More Beer Pairings
When you think about drinks to serve at brunch, you may first consider mimosas or bellinis, but a mid-morning beer may actually be a better pairing for brunch food.
This recipe for hamekins brings together breakfast's best; it's a tasty trio of ham, eggs and cheese. Brunch is a great excuse to get a little decadent, and beer offers a myriad of options from the elegant to the earthy.
There's something about wheat beers that just works with ham and eggs. The soft, mouth-filling, bready-sweet malt offers a comforting counterpoint to the salty cured meat. Fizzy effervescence cuts through the gooey egg-yolk and cheese. Fruit and spice from the special yeasts add racy overtones to the pairing. Light, refreshing, and with just a touch of citrusy acidity, wheat beers perk you up like a cold glass of orange juice. Belgian witbier and German hefeweizen are the classics, but for a more unique twist, look for a gose (pronounced GO-suh). Lactic tartness and a touch of salt give gose some added kick in combination with the dish.
Coffee=Breakfast—'nuff said. When picking a beer to serve at brunch, you can't go wrong with a coffee stout, coffee porter, or coffee-infused brown ale. The combination of coffee-like roasted malts and actual coffee invokes a morning cup of joe, and there's even a bit of caffeine to wake you up.
Everyone has heard of a champagne brunch, but have you tried it with champagne beer? Made using the Méthode Champenoise, the complex process of bottle-fermentation, riddling, and disgorging that produces fine French bubbly, champagne beers offer a spritzy refreshment that's delicious—if a little different from their vinous cousins. These beers tend toward a malt sweetness that works well with the ham and eggs (and toast on the side). The high level of carbonation and crisp, dry finish give them palate-cleansing zip.
Here's another option: try a beer cocktail! A mimosa made with champagne beer, Berliner-Weisse, or witbier is every bit as good as the original, but a little more fun. And there is always the famous Red Beer or Red Eye, a mix of lager with tomato juice.
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Michael's Beer Picks
Schell's Hefeweizen: German-style wheat beers are best consumed as fresh as possible, so I often look for local options. August Schell makes a great version. Lightly bready malt combines with subdued banana and clove character and citrus overtones for a refreshing beer that both complements and contrasts the dish. High carbonation cleanses the palate.
Ommegang Witte: Witte is lightly sweet with intriguing floral and orange notes from coriander and orange peel. Banana and spice from Belgian yeast adds the finishing touch. It cuts the salt and fat, pulls out the dish's sweeter flavors, and adds a fun and fruity element to the pairing.
Bayerischer Bahnhof Leipziger Gose: Bready sweetness of unmalted wheat is enhanced by a gentle touch of salt. Flavors of coriander and lemon zest dance over the top, accompanied by tart acidity from a lactic fermentation. It's light and ultra-refreshing. The pinch of salt calls out to the ham and eggs.
Surly Coffee Bender: Coffee Bender features bold espresso flavors wrapped around a toasty Brown ale. The coffee still lets the beer shine through, allowing hints of caramel and herbs to waft to the surface. It gives the same bitter contrast to the breakfast food as a cup of good coffee.
Mikkeller Beer Geek Brunch Weasel: Without doubt this is the best coffee beer I have tasted. It's a big, bold imperial stout brewed with Vietnamese ca phe chon civit cat coffee. The weasel-like civit cats consume the ripe coffee beans and their digestive enzymes begin to break the beans down. The partially digested beans are then collected from the animal's droppings. Sounds disgusting, I know, but the result in this beer is intense yet smooth and delicious coffee flavor layered into a full-bodied, sweet and roasty stout. Think of it as a triple shot café mocha.
DeuS Brut des Flandres: The high alcohol of this beer is masked by its light body and festive fizziness. Fruit is the dominant flavor, with vinous apple, pear and citrus underscored by herbal and spicy notes from the moderate use of European hops. The sweetness will counter the salt and protein in your brunch, while the bubbles will scrub the palate. From its uniquely shaped bottle to the way it looks in a flute, DeuS adds a classy touch to a beer brunch.
Eisenbahn Lust: Eisenbahn Lust is brewed by the Sudbrack Brewery of Brazil. It pours a bit darker than the DeuS; an inviting orange/amber color. The flavors are also a bit darker, with caramel and graham cracker malt coming through more strongly. Light vinous fruitiness rests on top with notes of spiced apples and grape. Another elegant addition to your morning repast.
About the Author: Certified Cicerone Michael Agnew is the lead educator and owner of A Perfect Pint. He conducts beer tastings for private parties and corporate events. His beer musings can be read in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, his own Perfect Pint Blog, The Hop Press at Ratebeer.com, the City Pages Hot Dish Blog, and in respected national beer magazines.