Serious Eats: Drinks

How to Host a Mother's Day Beer Brunch

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[Photo: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]

When I was growing up, Mother's Day brunch typically meant stuffing our faces at the Shoney's breakfast bar. We stood in line for silver-dollar pancakes, burnt bacon, and scrambled eggs that were either runny or rigid. There wasn't Champagne and caviar, just from-concentrate OJ and drip coffee.

Mom deserves better than that. She put up with all of our childhood (and adolescent) antics, after all. If you're looking for something a little more creative than a Bellini and scrambled eggs, consider a Mother's Day celebration that forgoes the grape in favor of the grain. Invite Mom over for a beer brunch. Here's what to make and which beers to serve alongside each dish.

A Sip to Start

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[Photograph: Wes Rowe]

Rather than the same old mimosas, greet your guest of honor with a flute filled with a refreshing beer cocktail made with fresh citrus juice topped up with a Champagne-method beer like DeuS Brut des Flandres. The large bottle feels festive, but you can also make mimosas with a German-style hefeweizen such as Sierra Nevada Kellerweis. Honestly, the beer version is much more refreshing than one made with prosecco. If Mom is a hophead, consider making this fresh, tart, and beautifully bitter variation with fresh grapefruit juice and Imperial IPA.

If Mom tends to like tomato-based breakfast drinks, consider mixing up Micheladas, made with your favorite lager, tomato juice, a bit of lime, plus celery salt, Worcestershire, and hot sauce to taste. Salt the rim of the serving glasses, and garnish with lime wedges.

Seafood Appetizer

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After that initial morning pick-me-up it's time to eat. Kick things off with a light seafood dish. Go spicy with a basic shrimp cocktail or add a little sophistication with salmon caviar blinis. With these dishes, pour everyone a bit of a German or Bohemian-style pilsner. The sharp, spicy hops are heavenly with horseradishy cocktail sauce, and give bitter-sweet balance to the smoky, salty blini.

Some widely available examples to look for are Victory Prima Pils, Lagunitas Pils, Left Hand Polestar Pilsner, and Bitburger Pils. Any of these will do the job. You can pour each guest about 4 ounces of beer with each course, but you'll want to have extra on hand in case they want a second serving. It's nice if you can give each guest two different glasses so they don't have to dump (or chug) each beer as you move onto the next one.

Something Savory

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[Photo: Kerry Saretsky]

For a low-stress meal, a simple, savory quiche with chard, pancetta, and Pecorino Romano is a sure-fire Mom pleaser. (Offer vegetarians this delicious kale version as an alternative.) Both recipes are easy to make and sure to satisfy. (They're also great with some rosemary and garlic roasted potatoes on the side.)

What beers should you pour with the main course? Hefeweizen or saison would be my beers of choice here. Yeasty fruit and spice in both styles are great with bitter greens and wheat beers are the perfect thing with eggs. Both beers are fizzy enough to clear your palate and leave you feeling refreshed, and these styles are easy-drinking people pleasers in case your guest list includes some folks who aren't quite hip to beer.

Big Sky Brush Tail Saison, St. Feuillien Saison, Boulevard Tank 7, and Stillwater Stateside Saison are all phenomenal saisons to seek out. Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier is certainly near the top of the German wheat beers. Ayinger Bräu Weisse and In-Heat Wheat from Flying Dog Brewery are also worth a try. Or check with a local brewery or brewpub. This is the season when hefeweizens start to reappear, and it can be fun to pour something super-fresh and local.

Something Sweet

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[Photo: María del Mar Sacasa]

You'll want to end your motherly tribute on a sweet note. My pick: this ridiculously delicious coffee coffee cake. This recipe had me at double coffee, but it's the crunchy streusel of toasted hazelnuts and cocoa nibs that sends it over the top.

Go ahead and serve coffee with this dessert, but we're not done with beer yet, either. One option is to choose a coffee stout or porter, such as Alesmith Speedway Stout or Kona Pipeline Porter, which will pull out the flavors of the bitter bean and contrast the sweeter chocolate and nuts in the cake. A chocolaty stout such as Brooklyn's Black Chocolate Stout or Tallgrass Buffalo Sweat will send your guests into cocoa-crazed ecstasy. (We also love Young's Double Chocolate Stout.) Another option is to serve a nutty brown ale that will highlight the toasted flavors in the streusel. Rogue's Hazelnut Brown Nectar is actually infused with hazelnut extract. Fat Squirrel from New Glarus gets its nutty notes naturally from toasted malts.

Think your mom would be up for a Mother's Day beer brunch? Which beers would you pour?

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. He is the author of an upcoming travel guide to breweries in the upper Midwest, due out later this year from the University of Illinois Press. Follow him on Twitter at @aperfectpint.

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