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Saturday, July 11, 2009

My Oregon Craft Beer Month: In Defense of Morning Beer

Posted by Patrick Alan Coleman on Sat, Jul 11, 2009 at 2:06 PM

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Ladies and gentleman, it’s time to erase the stigma of the morning beer. For too long we’ve suffered beneath the yoke of mannered society. Well, I’m done yoking around! We’ve given in to the outrageous supposition that consuming alcoholic beverages before noon (or in extremis, 5 pm) is a sure sign of alcoholism; that if a reasonable adult, man or woman, tipples when the day is still new, they must be a slavering, hopeless alcoholic. We must refuse this characterization!

Why should it be more acceptable to quaff gallons of stimulating caffeine? Why should we begin our day with nervous shakes and quaking bowels? Why look towards our labors with anxiety? Is it not better to enter the world smiling, relaxed, and ebullient, ready to take on what challenges and responsibilities we face with a happy demeanor? I tell you, beer is the answer!

Do not get me wrong. The wise understand moderation in all things. I do not suggest we stumble drunkenly towards our morning commute. I merely suggest that a single glass of beer should be considered as useful as a multi-vitamin with our orange juice.

I implore you, dear readers. Pay no heed to those who would look down their nose at you for seeking the healthy balance of a morning draught. They are joyless people. We, however, seek the fullness of life. We seek joy and beauty. And isn’t the world more beautiful viewed through a lovely stout? Our ancestors knew this. Where have we gone wrong?

The world of the morning news is a world built by the anxious and afraid. Our world is one of camaraderie, peace, and boldness, brought about by beer. It’s morning somewhere brothers of brew and sisters of suds. Let’s raise a glass!

Now if you’ll just let me get down off of this soapbox…

This morning found me at the table with two slices of toast, two poached eggs, a strip of bacon, a cup of french-pressed Stumptown coffee, and a Hopworks Urban Brewery Seven Grain Survival stout.

Beer for breakfast? Beer for breakfast! After the jump.

In the pint glass, this stout is deep black with a nice tan head. The aroma is creamy and malty with hints of chocolate, oatmeal and maple. I mean, it even smells like breakfast. A boozy breakfast, yes, but breakfast none-the-less.

I swear that this beer was specifically designed to be consumed before 11 am. It must have been, because the flavor combines just about every comestible a reasonable doctor might suggest you use to break your fast. Up front it’s all grain, but mostly oats, with a short hit of mild sweetness. There are hints of chocolate and a touch of coffee. The cool thing about the coffee notes is that they are made more distinct by the bitterness that draws them out towards the finish. The finish itself lingers for awhile with that bitterness, and if you sit with it long enough you can tease out bits of maple, and even a tendril of grapefruit.

I’d like to have a small glass of this brew every morning to augment the mind bending anxiety of my coffee. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.

The Survival stout this morning was incidentally helpful in curbing whatever ill affects I had from last night’s beer session. I hit Puckerfest (now under way at Belmont station) with my eye on the Double Mountain Devil’s Kriek, a sour brewed with local Bing cherries.

Ever since experiencing a wicked sour from Rock Bottom’s Van Havig at last year’s Oregon Brewers Fest kick off dinner, I’ve been intrigued by sours. Personally, I’m glad they’re becoming a popular style in the region, but I haven’t had that much experience with them. So I sat down beside the Devil’s Kriek last night and enjoyed myself quite immensely.

In the glass the kriek is a beautiful deep glowing red. I was immediately enchanted. The enchantment continued after a deep whiff of the aroma which was fruit punch, accompanied by red wine.

The first sip was cherry explosion—a very bold start. Soon after, I picked up a mineral quality, as if fresh cut cherries had been dropped into a glass of soda water, which speaks to how subtle the sweetness was in this beer. But as it did with Bridgeport’s Stumptown Tart, I think my brain conjured up a “ghost sweetness” due to the strong association I’ve developed between cherries and sugar. However, when I tried to chase that sweetness down, it wasn’t there.

The Devil’s Kriek is a very soft beer in the mouth and more tart than sour. But there is a nice bitterness that draws the tartness out towards sourness as the flavor progress through its languorous polite finish.

I also enjoyed the kriek for its distinct warming quality after swallowing, which is perhaps a product of its 9% ABV.

The Puckerfest runs through the month at Belmont station with taps changing fairly regularly. I plan to stop in week to week to see what new.

As always, I welcome discussion in the comments section, and I hope you’ll take it upon yourself to help me reverse the stigma of the breakfast beer.

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