Beer Buzz: Beer For Brunch

The Mimosa and Bloody Mary are being replaced by beer at some venues.

At City Tap House, the Beermosa—which mixes a wheat beer with elderflower liqueur, orange juice and sparkling wine—outsells the traditional Mimosa during brunch.
At City Tap House, the Beermosa—which mixes a wheat beer with elderflower liqueur, orange juice and sparkling wine—outsells the traditional Mimosa during brunch.

With brunch skyrocketing in popularity around the country, particularly among urban millennials, the morning or afternoon meal presents a unique prospect for beer. Younger consumers’ affinity for craft beer and its many styles only helps to expand opportunity in the on-premise. “Breakfast food goes well with beer,” says Jason Glunt, owner of Salud Beer Shop in Charlotte, North Carolina. The 3-year-old store recently expanded into food offerings like Sunday brunch.

Beer cocktails are figuring prominently during brunch at other venues across the country. Stout pub in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood offers the Obsidian Michelada ($11), made with Dry Fly Washington wheat whiskey, Ancho Reyes chili liqueur, Bloody Mary mix, lime juice and Deschutes Obsidian stout, during Saturday and Sunday brunch. According to general manager Krista Maes, the signature cocktail outsells the venue’s traditional Bloody Mary. Coffee-inspired beers like Oakshire Brewing’s Overcast espresso stout are also popular brunch beverages at the pub, where draft beer rotates regularly and ranges from $6 to $8 a 16-ounce pour.

Draft, a bar and grill at the Belmont Park amusement venue in San Diego, features brunch beer cocktails ($5) like the Michelada, combining Corona Light, lime juice and salt, and the Local Shandy, mixing St. Archer’s Blonde ale, Mexican Sprite and lime juice. On the East Coast, The Bronx Beer Hall in New York City touts the Black Velvet, comprising Gun Hill Void of Light stout and Villa Jolanda Prosecco. At City Tap House in Washington, D.C., the IPA Cocktail ($10) blends Bell’s Two Hearted ale and Aperol aperitif, served on the rocks in a Julep glass.

Many restaurants are reimagining Mimosas as “Beermosas.” Salud, which features 12 rotating drafts ($5 to $7 a 12-ounce or 16-ounce pour) and 500 bottled and canned beers ($2.50 to $44), features a Beermosa ($3 on Sundays) made with a hoppy brew like Founders All Day IPA and orange juice. City Tap House’s Beermosa ($8) mixes a wheat beer, such as Starr Hill’s The Love, with Bols Elderflower liqueur, orange juice and a splash of sparkling wine. “It’s huge,” says City Tap beverage director David Donaldson. “We sell more Beermosas during brunch than we do Mimosas.” The venue offers 40 rotating draft brews ($6 to $14 a 10-ounce to 14-ounce pour) and about 40 bottled and canned beers ($5.50 to $120; sizes vary).

San Diego’s Draft, meanwhile, promotes an alternative to another brunch beverage staple, the Bloody Mary. The Michelada Rojo ($5) is the eatery’s Michelada served with house-made Bloody Mary mix on the side. “We sell 50 to 60 of them in a brunch shift,” general manager Austin Swint explains. Cocktail garnishes also play a role in brunch beer cocktails. At Stout in Seattle, the Stout Coffee ($8) blends Fremont Mischief whiskey, Rain City Drip coffee liqueur and Caffe Vita coffee, topped with stout-infused whipped cream.

Brewers are aware of the beer-for-breakfast trend. “Some of the beers we offer are designed for brunch pairings,” Draft’s Swint notes. The venue boasts 66 beers on draft ($6 to $10 a 9-ounce to 20-ounce pour) and 74 bottles and cans ($5 to $7). He points to Modern Times coffee stout as a good companion for the eatery’s French Toast BLT ($14). Meanwhile, at The Bronx Beer Hall, co-owner and managing partner Paul Ramirez recommends pairing the venue’s Black Velvet cocktail with its Chicken and Waffles entrée ($10).

City Tap House incorporates beer into the preparation of some brunch menu items. The venue’s Strawberry Almond French Toast ($12) is served with a reduction of coffee stout and maple syrup. Now that beer is squarely in the brunch mix, on-premise operators will continue to find new and creative ways to incorporate it into their beverage menus.