By Christopher McCollum
It’s not the dreary outlook of a troubled writer, the ridiculous quote of restaurants and bars around America, or the daily routine of persons with questionable character. Beer in the breakfast hours has become a stark reality in the modern American world, and one that isn’t quite as easy to dismiss as alcoholic behavior as some of the older generation would like. In some sports circles, the Art of Tailgating has an almost religious fervor associated with it, and the proper rituals quite usually consist of grilling a variety of delicious staples, merriment, revelry, predicting how the game is going to unfold, and… beer. Lots, and lots of beer. I had always seen this on television, heard about it from associates, but never seen it first hand, until I began spending time in Clemson, South Carolina. Clemson is an agricultural university, and one of the best in the country, however most sports fans and even most Clemson students I’ve spoken with, proudly declare that Clemson is a football school first and foremost. Whether or not they were being facetious is of no concern to me, as the purpose of this writing is to demonstrate the love of beer in the morning.
A prime time start for college football games is 12 noon, and the tailgating begins a couple hours earlier. To coincide with that, people need to be awake, dressed, and ready to go at an even earlier time. In that case, the beer is being consumed by people who have mostly been up and at it for several hours. Additionally, if I’m going to be perfectly honest, most of those people are drinking incredibly light beer, or as my Californian friend calls them, “Funny tasting water.”
That said, what about truly drinking a beer at breakfast time? When one has only been awake for 30 minutes to an hour? Of course, I generally would not want to do this myself, as my stomach tends to disagree with my decision-making skills if I drink anything aside from orange juice or milk for breakfast. That’s not to say I’ve not partaken in true breakfast beers before though, as a very memorable St. Patrick’s Day in Savannah, Georgia can attest to, along with a gorgeous February morning in Culebra, Puerto Rico. But even in those instances, the beer was pretty light; Budweiser in Savannah (I will not drink Guinness after only being awake half an hour, I don’t care what the holiday is), and Corona in Puerto Rico.
In the event that I would want to drink a beer as part of my breakfast, I would want it to be full of flavor. I would want it to have texture. I would like for it to complement whatever is that I’m eating, and since we’re in some pretty cool temperatures right now, that is usually piping hot oatmeal, with a mug of hot chocolate on the side, and then maybe a cup of coffee several minutes after. There is one beer that is gaining immense popularity right now, that compliments all three of those staples. This beer is the Founders Breakfast Stout, which is a hearty mixture of Oatmeal, Chocolate, and Coffee flavors. It is brewed with oat flakes, bitter and imported chocolates, and two varieties of coffee beans, including my favorite, Kona.
The Breakfast Stout may not actually be meant for breakfast, and it definitely was not meant for my breakfast, but it certainly has the filling and satiating quality that many breakfast-goers call for. The taste is a mixture of coffee and chocolate, and I personally can’t clearly make out the taste of the oats, but friends of mine are quick to point it out, so it must be true. The first time I enjoyed a Breakfast Stout, it was in bottled form with Micah Hanks, several weeks ago. Since then, I’ve found a bar in Asheville that has it on draft, and I’ve engaged in several evenings of partaking in it fresh off the tap. As with all beers that I’ve ever compared, the draft is better than the bottle, however I don’t feel that the bottle loses much. The main draw back on the Breakfast Stout is the price: $20 for a pitcher, or $10 for a 4-pack of bottles. While my love for beer often times is not dictated by my wallet, it can only go so far before enough is enough. The Breakfast Stout is very good, but for me it needs to be an occasional treat rather than a regular libation. Perhaps that is for the best, that way there’s no chance of it wearing on me, and losing it’s appeal.
For the foreseeable future, I’m going to keep orange juice or hot chocolate as my breakfast beverage of choice, and perhaps have breakfast for dinner, in the case of Founders Breakfast Stout.