What Beer Goes With Capt. Crunch?
Well, I woke up this morning,
I got myself a beer
Well, I woke up this morning,
and I got myself a beer
The future's uncertain, and the end is always near
Roadhouse Blues, by the Doors, Morrison Hotel, 1970.
George Carlin once remarked, “What wine goes with Capt. Crunch? I can never decide. I usually just smoke a bong full of fruit loops and watch the mid-morning movie.” Carlin’s proclivity for “fruit loops” has been well covered by the body of his work and needs no discussion in this forum, but the joke was one that has hung with me these many years and came back to me recently as I was studying up on beer for a previous post.
I started my research of beer by going to its history, a subject that I find infinitely fascinating. Not just beer, but history in general. It is important to understand where we came from, on any given topic, to understand where we are now. My results were, to say the least, intriguing.
I found several sites that had a fairly complete history of beer, going back to the 3rd millennium B.C. It doesn’t get much older than the story of Gilgamesh. The Sumerians were the first ones to bother to write it down about 6,000 years ago. It turns out; the “culture of beer” has been brewing for some time now.
One of the most interesting trends that I found is how often beer was the drink of choice for breakfast. No, really! Contrary to popular belief, it was not Jim Morrison that originated the need to rise from bed in the morn and consume a cold beer.
I have mentioned in an earlier post that the Paulaner monks drank a strong beer (Bock, by name) to nourished themselves during their Lent and Advent seasons and would consume it for breakfast to brace themselves for the day, but did you know, in the late 1500’s, Queen Elizabeth drank strong ale for breakfast. No wonder she was the virgin Queen. She was too tuckered from breakfast. Mind you, this is just a guess, but if I started my day with strong, English ale, I’m not sure I’d have much gumption left by lunchtime to rule the British Empire. I’d need a nap, but being Queen, she could have one.*
The website that I found most informative said that Ladies-in-waiting of the court of King Henry VII were allowed a gallon of beer for breakfast alone. I don’t know if this means that they had a gallon for breakfast that they had to drink by themselves, away from everyone else, or they got a gallon for breakfast and then they had an allowance for the rest of the day on top of that. The article doesn’t say, but if that is what the Ladies-in-waiting got, then imagine if you will, what the Royalty got.
I guess what truly amazes me is the fact that, at one time beer was an acceptable breakfast, much like Lucky Charms, and as everyone knows breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
John Locke, in his paper “Some thoughts Concerning Education” advises “And if betwixt these, which I call meals, he will eat, let him have, as often as he calls for it, good dry bread. If any one think this too hard and sparing a diet for a child, let them know, that a child will never starve nor dwindle for want of nourishment, who, besides flesh at dinner, and spoon-meat, or some such other thing, at supper, may have good bread and beer as often as he has a stomach.” And also “His drink should be only small beer; and that too he should never be suffer’d to have between meals, but after he had eat a piece of bread.”
This sounds incredible, but if you read on, most of the water isn’t safe to drink, being drawn from polluted streams, and pain relievers are a long way off (1897) and most of medicine relies on bleeding and leaches, or lots of laxatives or purgatives. Doctors of the time were firm believers in the idea that they could “purge” you of your ailment. Yuck! Some say that bleeding and leaches were the cause in George Washington’s death.
A website sponsored by the fine folks of the Fosters Group, one of the most informative of the host of sites I visited, had this to say: The American scientist and statesman, Benjamin Franklin, who lived in London from 1757-1774, recorded the daily beer consumption in a London printing house which he visited. The employees each had a pint before breakfast, a pint between breakfast and dinner, a pint at dinner, a pint at six o'clock and a pint when they finished work.
In some of my research I’ve come across a breakfast beer brewed by Founders Brewing Company of Grand Rapids Michigan. Aptly titled, Founders Breakfast Stout, it is an American Double Stout with an alcohol rating of 8.3%. (What a way to start the Day! Should be their slogan.) The review that I read suggested that it had a very strong coffee flavor with hints of chocolate. One reviewer said that this would be a great intro/crossover beer for the Starbucks crowd. While I must admit that I am not familiar with the Founders Brewing co. or their product, it seems to me that some bright, young exec, on the way up would mention this to his boss.
One website was looking for contributions in naming their breakfast cereal, mascoted by an all white beer can with a slightly sauced look on his face and an eye-patch named appropriately Beer Can BobTM . Some suggestions include, Tootie Fruitie Beer Nuts, Marshmallow Six-Packs, Raisin’ From The Dead Bran, Green Eggs and SLAM, Keggos, Frosted Farty Fluffs, Totalled, and my personal favorite, Brewski Berries.
On a different website devoted to beer drinking one BigChris1313 of Claremont California asked his fellows if they ever enjoyed having an occasional, or not so occasional, beer for breakfast and the replies were varied but of the forty some odd responses, none were a condemnation for his early morning revelry. Most recommended a stout or porter with the morning meal and several had their own favorites for certain foods, e.g. steak and eggs, sausages and German pretzels with sweet mustard, cold left-over pizza, or buttery home fries. Only one character chided another that he was “too good for a Filthy Rolling Rock”. Several said that the impetus for having a morning beer was an early Sunday morning Tee time on the golf course. (Well it would explain the behavior of several of the golfers that I have met.)
At http://www.realbeer.com/discussions/showthread.php?threadid=471, They conducted a survey of what is the best breakfast beer, and of the sixty-five votes cast, stout won, hands down, with twenty-six votes. Followed by ale at fourteen, porter at thirteen, lager at seven, bock at three, and rounding out the field at two votes was old English 800, whatever that is.
Some of what I’ve read says that the way to enjoy your morning frothy beverage is to mix it with tomato juice. This seems to have its roots in farming communities at harvest time.
And to think that in the far off days of my misspent youth, that I felt guilty for the one warm, flat, domestic beer from the night before, that I had with my bowl of Ramein noodles for breakfast, in an effort to grasp a hair of the dog that bit me, (a phrase that I will delve into in greater depth in future posts) and convinced myself that this WAS NOT the breakfast of champions. How right or wrong I may have been, I haven’t quite decided yet. Let me just say “Good Morning” and “Cheers!”.
*. The rest of us peasants don’t have the time in our day for that kind of thing, unless you are Mexican or Spanish, and then a nap is built into your day and is counted as part of your lunch break, which, I must say, is the ABSOLUTE most civilized thing I have ever heard of. Any civilization that condones a nap in the middle of the heat of the day is civility at its zenith, as far as I’m concerned.
The Greeks, the Romans, the Ottoman Empire, none of them can boast that they have arrived at the pinnacle of human thought and existence, though you must give them credit, they tried, yet as far as I know, none invented the afternoon nap.