This post originally appeared in the March 9, 2020 edition of The Move, a place for Eater’s editors to reveal their recommendations and pro dining tips — sometimes thoughtful, sometimes weird, but always someone’s go-to move. Subscribe now.
I remember my first breakfast beer very clearly. It was 2012. I was flying Lufthansa from the Frankfurt airport to Athens when the beverage and snack cart rolled by, offering the usual complimentary coffee, tea, sodas — and beer. There was something so novel about the idea of drinking a beer with my breakfast that I had to do it. So there I sat, at 35,000 feet, enjoying a crisp and refreshing wheat ale at 7 a.m. with my relatively respectable in-flight breakfast among a sea of passengers sipping their apple juice and ginger ale.
It may have been my first morning beer, but it wasn’t my last. There are many wonderful ways to enjoy a cold beer (in the shower is another preferred method); drinking one for breakfast is perhaps my favorite.
Brunch cocktails like bloody marys, mimosas, and Irish coffee tend to reign supreme over a.m. drinking culture, but beer is the unsung hero. It appears in morning drinks as a sidecar or mixer: Bloody mary drinkers in Wisconsin chase their spicy cocktails with a shot of beer, and in Nebraska, early-morning tailgaters tote around red beer, a light, domestic beer doused with bland tomato juice. Micheladas — lagers dunked in tomato juice with spices and lime — are a staple in Mexico and Latin America that have been heartily adopted in the U.S. as a beer-based answer to the bloody mary. All of these are very good options. However, I would advocate for a more streamlined approach.
Downing a single pint of low-ABV beer is a nice, filling way to ease into the morning without overdoing it. Compare that to easy-drinking beverages like bottomless mimosas or super-boozy cocktails, which can make you quite sleepy going into the day. The U.S. also produces beers for just about every taste, including some flavored with coffee — a match made in brunch heaven, in my opinion.
While breakfast beers aren’t commonplace in the U.S., there are plenty of regions where morning brews are standard. In Germany and Austria, there’s a tradition called frühschoppen, which is basically the equivalent of Sunday brunch but with hefeweizen instead of bellinis. Bavarians lean in even harder with brotzeit or “bread time,” where beer hall patrons eat a bready snack like a pretzel accompanied by beer (basically just liquid bread) around 10 a.m. on a weekday. There’s not much to the philosophy here. Some Germans like to claim that a light morning beer is good for digestion, but the jury is out on that. It’s just something that’s done because it’s pleasant. Yet stateside (outside of a few breweries that serve brunch), this special beer occasion hasn’t really caught on.
It’s time to amend that: The next time you’re looking to sip an adult beverage before noon, skip the cocktail and order a pint.
P.S. If you want a super-rare beer to accompany your three-egg scramble, one way to score a bottle is through the insidery world of online-only beer trading.