A latte and a beer may sound like the perfect double breakfast pick-me-up but two Victorian breweries have gone a step further by putting coffee in special breakfast brews.
A LATTE and a beer may sound like the perfect double breakfast pick-me-up but two Victorian breweries have gone a step further by putting coffee in special breakfast brews.
One of the beers, Smokey Breakfast Lager by Bridge Road Brewers in Beechworth, northern Victoria, also contains essences of fruit toast, tea leaves, honey and maple syrup. And while it may be a one-off, the range of brews that pair well with breakfast is growing.
''Beer can be just as special as champagne in the morning, as long as you savour what you're drinking,'' Bridge Road's Ben Kraus said.
Kraus is one of three brewers speaking at the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival's inaugural ''Beer Breakfast'' on March 11.
Matched food and beers on show will include smokey stouts with cured meats and ''hefeweizen'' (German wheat beer, traditionally drunk at breakfast) with sausage.
''Some of the beers will be potentially quite challenging,'' The Age beer critic and event moderator James Smith said.
''But then again, people often start their day with a big, powerful espresso.''
Caffeine addicts will be catered for with another coffee-infused beer, from Richmond brewers Mountain Goat made in collaboration with Carlton's Seven Seeds.
Brewer Dave Bonighton said the coffee ''partially replaces hops in the bitterness, flavour and aroma of the beer'', giving a ''complex, fruity kick''.
On top of the caffeine, it has 5.9 per cent alcohol. Smokey Breakfast Lager's alcohol content is 6.5 per cent. Carlton Draught and VB each contain 4.6 per cent.
The brewers said the complex flavours meant breakfast beers were not intended for long ''sessions'' of drinking.
Kraus points to a Bavarian tradition of having beer in the morning during festival times. ''People will do their shopping and have a beer ? They're not necessarily settling in for more.''
But Geoff Munro, policy director at the Australian Drug Foundation, said alcohol consumption in the morning in particular should be discouraged, and said the Melbourne event was ''irresponsible''.
''Drinking early in the morning is considered a classic sign of alcohol dependence,'' he said. ''There's every likelihood that someone who drinks beer at breakfast could continue to drink through lunch and keep going.''
Festival director Natalie O'Brien defended the event, saying it was more about showing off the versatility of beer than encouraging risky drinking. Already there are signs across the state that diners have an appetite for beer at breakfast.
The Breakfast and Beer cafe in Daylesford stocks more than 50 beers, and even roasts its coffee beans in beer.
''We're getting heaps of people in having breakfast and beer - especially after weddings, people tend to imbibe,'' said chef and manager Benjamin O'Brien.
In Geelong, the Southern Bay Brew Company recently launched its ''Sunrise Breakfast Brew'', a light-bodied ale with 4.3 per cent alcohol that has been promoted as ''easy on sensitive morning tastebuds''.
Manager Ben Israel hopes to sell the brew to licensed breakfast venues. ''We believe it could lead to a cultural change, the same way breakfast and coffee took off in the '90s.''
But Smith is sceptical. ''It's [breakfast beer] more of a treat for beer nerds, not something to replace coffee ? I think the drug foundation is right to be wary of it. But if you appreciate beer and think it's worthy of respect then you treat it with respect. You don't drink it to get falling-down drunk.''