– John Barleycorn: Alcoholic Memoirs by Jack London
I think there were be many sentences I enjoy in this book.
For a time, my schedule permits me to visit Black Bridge on Sunday’s around noon, a beau ideal for a beer session. First, the beer is always good and, second, brunch is served. And the brunch is always good, too. Aside from knowing that “brunch” is a portmanteau of breakfast and lunch I knew little about the meal.
Evidently it’s an import from Britain. According to History.com and the Smithsonian the word first appeared in 1895 in an article by Guy Beringer, a British writer. He “suggested an alternative to the heavy, post-church Sunday meals in favor of lighter fare served late in the morning,” writes the Smothsonian. ”Brunch is cheerful, sociable and inciting,” Beringer says. ”It is talk-compelling. It puts you in a good temper, it makes you satisfied with yourself and your fellow beings, it sweeps away the worries and cobwebs of the week.” – Read more: The Birth of Brunch: Where Did This Meal Come From Anyway?
”Brunch is much more eclectic, although I would say that it has to be on a weekend, it has a festive aspect to it, and it’s social. You never have brunch alone, while breakfast for one is perfect, in my opinion.” – At Brunch, The More Bizarre The Better – New York Times
A local brewery or pub, or taproom, seems an appropriate spot for such an event. They are inherently social. And, of course, beer expedites the removal of stress and worry when consumed appropriately. There is a hint of elitism in the history of brunch and so I think that is another reason that it’s good to hold such a meal in a local pub venue. Everybody’s equal there and just hanging about to enjoy themselves.
The Joy of Cooking: All About Breakfast and Brunch calls the meal “that charming social hour.” And then it goes on to say, “along with coffee and tea, it is customary to serve something alcoholic with brunch such as white wine, Champagne (or the combination of Champagne and orange juice known as the Mimosa), or a pitcher of Bloody Mary’s.”
Our local demonstrates they understand the custom and have put their brand on it. The brewer becomes the chef and offers several plates of ambrosial brunch fare: a breakfast quesadilla, a fried egg sandwich on sourdough, a chorizo breakfast burrito. They sound simple, which is an important factor considering there is only one cool at the moment, Black Bridge’s brewer. But theses unassuming meals are excellent and certainly comes from somebody who loves to cook.
Bartender Mike recommended to me the breakfast quesadilla and I’ve had it twice in a row now. It’s eggs and bacon and bell peppers and cheese in a toasted tortilla. There’s a jammy sweetness to the plate that I can’t place, but I love it. It makes me think the bacon is cooked in grape jelly; my drinking companion says it is bacon with brown sugar. He may be close to correct since Tim did make an enigmatic comment about “bacon jam” some weeks ago. Well, whatever it is I can’t get enough.
If all goes right, our party will double in size this coming Sunday, so at least two more people will get a taste of the brunch and the beer. Speaking of the beer, what works with brunch? The Joy of Cooking, mentioned above, states that Mimosa’s are traditional for brunch. Black Bridge provides beermosas (beer and orange juice) and they are delicious – I prefer mine made with B3 Wheat instead of Wicked Ginger; it’s like a creamsicle in a pint. If you want just a beer, I completely recommend 80 Shilling, the Scottish export.
If you’re not familiar with the style here are a few notes regarding it. All About Beer magazine said: “There is nothing fancy or overblown about Scottish ales, but they are instead simple, smooth and genuine.” This reserved, malty delight thus steps aside and let’s the food be the star while still giving you a beer fix. Over and over, since it’s relatively low in alcohol content.
The Beer Bible, by Jeff Alworth, makes Scottish ale sound breakfasty. He writes, “Scottish session ales are closely related to English cask ale; they’re balanced and smooth, designed to keep the palate interested over the course of three or four pints. … Scottish session ales can be read as tiny treatises on the expressiveness of malt flavor. With reserved hopping, you can see the way soft, fruity esters play off a refined woodiness. You find all the classic malt adjectives in different brands—toffee, bread crust, walnut, biscuit—and yet they fail to capture the more evocative elements that spring to mind when you’re pondering these unassuming little ales.”
See, unassuming again. And malty sweetness, a little fruit, yes just a spectacular beer. It is the consummate companion to the B3 quesadilla. Now, the brunches come with pozole and your choice of salsa. I always request the hot green salsa and if that’s what you like, Cliff Dweller, the double IPA, accentuates the heat. Very cool. Well, very hot.
I think being a beer evangelist is, well, maybe not important … but it’s what I like to do. I think anyone should be given the chance to be converted to craft/indie beer. So here’s a quick list I put together long ago to interest people in said beer.
- Samuel Adams Octoberfest
- New Belgium Fat Tire
- Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
- Shiner Bock
- Evil Red (Kingman locals take note: this beer can only be found in Kingman at our local nano brewery, Black Bridge)
- 80 Shilling (available at Black Bridge Brewery)
- Arrogant Bastard
- Anchor Steam
So, what else should be on the list? Please comment and let me know. Thanks and cheers!