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Here, Taste This: Brewing Up Breakfast

Coffee beers are a great way to put the fun back into your weekend mornings.


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Beer-Batter Waffles | Photo by Bruce Glassman

One of my fondest memories from the first GABF (Great American Beer Festival) I attended has to do with the awards ceremony, which usually takes place on the final morning of the festival. I remember showing up at the hall about 8ish, where I was greeted with about two dozen beers on tap. What struck me was the fact that, here are all these brewers showing up early in the morning (after more than a few solid days of beer-related revelry) and they’re all perfectly happy to grab a beer or two before settling in to the proceedings. Beer was just part of their day, no matter what time of day it was. I liked that idea.

For most of us non-brewer mortals, it’s probably best to keep beer consumption restricted mostly to the weekends and evening hours, but once in a while, it is fun have beer at times and in places where we don’t usually have it. So, in preparation for San Diego Beer Week (November 6—15), I’m proposing that you incorporate beer into an upcoming breakfast or brunch. My suggestion: start with a coffee stout or coffee porter.

Coffee beers have become somewhat de rigueur in the brewing world these days (they have their own category in the judging at GABF), and—even though you can find coffee-laced IPAs, cream ales, browns, and lagers, the most common canvas for coffee is the stout or porter.

There are a bunch of great reasons to enhance your breakfast with a coffee beer. First, most are packed with roasty, malty, chocolatey flavor, which means they can be satisfying in relatively small portions. Second, the richness and flavors of these brews makes them an ideal accompaniment to the breakfast and brunch classics, such as pancakes, waffles, French toast, and crepes. Third, these beers can be used not only as accompaniments, but also in cooking. You can adapt many of your favorite breakfast recipes to incorporate beer by substituting stout or porter for water in many cases. With waffle batter particularly, the use of beer instead of water actually increases the effectiveness of the baking soda and baking powder, so your waffles rise more and get puffier. For pancake batter or French toast, which usually utilize milk, you can substitute about ¼ or 1/3 of the liquid with beer.  Here’s my favorite beer-inspired waffle recipe:

Beer-Batter Waffles

Sift together:
3 cups all purpose flour
¾ cup powdered buttermilk
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt

In a bowl, whisk together:
3 large eggs
1 ½ cups coffee stout or porter
1 ½ cups water
1 teaspoon almond extract
6 tablespoons butter, melted

Whisk the dry ingredients into the liquid until smooth. Cook according to manufacturer’s instructions on a waffle iron.

There is an excellent variety of great coffee beers readily available in retail stores around San Diego. The most widely distributed of the highly recommended beers include Zumbar (2015 GABF Gold-medal winner from New English), Stone Coffee Milk Stout, Speedway Stout (AleSmith), Victory at Sea (Ballast Point), and Black House (Modern Times). For a lighter style, try Ballast Point’s Calm Before the Storm, which is a cream ale with coffee and vanilla.

If you’re willing to make a trip to the brewery or tasting room, Fall Brewing’s 2 AM Bike Ride is outstanding, as is Mother Earth’s Night Shift Coffee Porter and Hop Jitters Imperial Red with coffee.

If you’d rather do your experimenting outside your own kitchen, set aside a few days between November 6 and the 15th. For those 10 days, San Diego Beer Week will be in full swing and hundreds of events across the county will provide opportunities to experience beer in new and special settings. Restaurants, bars, and breweries will all be hosting beer breakfasts, brunches, and other beer-centric food events, so go to sdbw.org/schedule to check it out. Highlights will include a Rare Beer Breakfast at Stone Brewing on Friday, November 6; Beer for Breakfast at Draft on Saturday November 7; and Karl Strauss’s Every Brunch is Better with Beer event on Sunday, November 8.

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