Beer for Breakfast

Beer Geek Breakfast : Mikkeller : Stout (Imperial)

“Woke up this morning and got myself a beer.  The future’s uncertain, and the end is always near.”  Morrison’s lyric ost succinctly fuses drinking and a dark existentialism, to a backbeat…you can’t lose it.

In almost a year of beer writing, I have deliberately ignored the bleak underbelly of alcohol.It is not that I have not seen drinking’s devastating effects or can’t face the associated stories: I lost two friends to alcoholism. As a youth, I kept my awareness of their addiction at a distance, granting me a bubble of plausible deniability, while hoping that time would provide a cure. Time alone provides no cure for addiction.

Then there were near misses brought on by adolescent excesses.  Trudy Ellen****er in the hospital for alcohol poisoning.  Or when my college roommate and friend Don decided to start senior year by drinking until he passed out, every day, for a week.  A celebration, of sorts. Despite our protests from day one, Don made it to day five: he woke up in a nearby public park, staring up into the faces of a couple of paramedics called by strangers to the scene. Don shrugged the EMT of and walked home, where, fortunately chilled by feeling the shroud of death pulled up to his shoulders, Don called off the experiment.

Of course there are also times where the avoidance of tragedy in excess-inspired events create humorous results.  You can hear the chuckles lifting the car when my friends Ned and Craig, after drinking at the Blue Duck in Maryland all night, drove the backroads back home.  Outside of Williams Grove, they missing the 90 degree turn in the two laner, and landed the car on the adjacent railroad tracks.  Hear the howls of laughter when they saw the locomotive lights barreling toward them. And the guffaws when the train passed by on the other set of rails.

(There was no such excess and no tragedy at all when, in the parking lot outside the Eagle’s stadium, nephews Adam, Dan, Don T and I tried to blow up Bud Light cans with roadside flares. Pranks don’t require alcohol — actually the two mixed invite tragedy — but both pranks and drinking do help keep the serious tragedy of living at a safe distance.)

My nephew Adam brings along a small bottle of Heaven’s Hill to casual family events.  It serves as a totem substitute for my departed mother.  That plastic bottle helps put an ironic smile on us all, a gesture that smooths for us all the pain of dealing with her in her later years, when, following the untimely death of my father, she increasingly sought to put the tragedy at a distance by bringing the bottle closer.

It is a strategy that never works for no one. If the end is always near, even the bottle won’t keep it at a distance. But should you decide you need to wake up and get yourself a beer, can I recommend the Beer Geek Breakfast?  Imagine a creamy chocolate cereal (koo koo for CooCoo Puffs?), washed with a sip of coffee.  Imagine a balance of roasted malt grain across bitteriness without the acidity.  No single element overwhelming palate.

Still, I will be honest here in the review, if I haven’t already: my preference for breakfast beer would still be with the Founder’s, with a side of bacon

Rating: 84%

Editor’s note: There’s a bar across the street from the Ginger Man–which itself is a nicely stocked beer place, if you can push your way through all the white shirts blocking the bar–called Under the Volcano.  To read the novel the bar is named after is to experience the interlocking tragedy of alcohol and personal destruction.

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