Centuries ago, a few orders of German monks were so strict in their observances that they weren’t allowed to eat during the 40 days of Lent. So they did what any self-respecting German would do—and decided to just drink beer instead.
This is but one of many instances where “liquid bread” makes an appearance at the breakfast table (and the lunch table, and dinner table, but we’ll save that story for another time). And when you think about it, beer is actually a damned fine meal replacement: It’s packed with calories, has a decent portion of B vitamins, and it just so happens to, you know, make life worth living.
As the saying goes, you can’t drink all day if you don’t start in the morning. So pop open one of our 10 favorite beers to drink for breakfast, and start your day off on the right (slightly buzzed) foot.
Founders Brewing Breakfast Stout
The year-round availability of Michigan-based Founders’ Brewing Company’s Breakfast Stout makes it a perennial favorite for the day’s first meal. Flaked oats and chocolate combine with two different types of coffee to make a rich and intensely roasted brew, perfect for waking up your senses to start the day. Brewed to a robust 8.3 percent ABV, it’s also loaded down with 270 calories—almost three times as much as a standard light beer, and perfect for using as a meal replacement. Plus, since it’s about the color and consistency of brewed coffee, you can pour it into your favorite mug and get through a Zoom meeting without anyone noticing.
Funky Buddha Maple Bacon Coffee Porter
Nothing says “breakfast in a bottle” like the combination of bacon, coffee, and maple syrup. Funky Buddha’s porter has all three in spades, with real bacon, coffee, and maple syrup thrown into the brewing kettle for a long steep. A 6.4 percent ABV rating gives it a decent heft, and it’s backed up by a fair portion of unfermented sugars for a rich and silky flavor. A new batch comes on the market in January, and when it’s gone it’s gone—so pick some up whenever you see a pack, as it ages well if kept in the fridge too.
Dogfish Head Beer For Breakfast Stout
Johnny Cash said it best, in his famous Sunday Morning Coming Down: “Well I had a beer for breakfast, and it wasn’t bad so I had one more for dessert.” Dogfish Head’s Beer for Breakfast Stout would do the Man in Black proud, with its solid black hue and big 7.4 percent alcohol content. Cold brewed coffee gives it a serious caffeinated kick, and Massachusetts maple syrup adds a pleasant touch of sweetness. But the real trick here is a Delaware delicacy that’s either love it or hate it: Scrapple. Think of it as a mix between bologna and bacon, and add a selection of savory spices. That gives a long, unique finish to this Dogfish Head brew.
Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin IPA
You can’t very well have bacon, eggs, and pancakes for breakfast every day—so why only go for heavy dark beers for breakfast? Ballast Point’s Grapefruit Sculpin IPA is a delightfully zesty alternative to the stouts and porters that dominate the breakfast beer market. Taking the successful DNA of their original Sculpin IPA, with its big seven percent ABV and complex hoppiness, Ballast Point then adds a hefty dose of grapefruit zest and juice. It’s like a fruit bowl in a glass, with enough of a cereal component to give it some oomph.
21st Amendment Toaster Pastry Red Ale
You’ve had a hop-forward India pale ale. And you’ve probably had a malty and fruity red ale, too. But have you ever tried an India red ale? 21st Amendment’s Toaster Pastry Red Ale combines the best of both worlds, creating a juicy, fruity, and cereal-grain-heavy take on the uncommon style. And while it’s not brewed with Pop Tarts, the combination of grain and hop selections gives it a remarkably similar character to berry toaster pastries. Fun fact: The name is also an homage to the fact that the building where the beer is brewed used to be a toaster pastry factory.
Garage Project Cereal Milk Stout
What’s the best part of any bowl of cereal? The sweetened milk that’s left after you eat the cereal, of course. New Zealand brewery Garage Project seems to know this as well, as evidenced by their Cereal Milk Stout. Brewed with corn flakes, oats, chocolate, wheat, and milk sugar, it’s a dead ringer for the best part of your childhood breakfasts. Stylistically, it’s a milk stout all the way, rich and creamy with a thick and foamy head. At just 4.7 percent ABV, it’s one of the softest and easiest to drink of the beers featured here—and a perfect way to ease yourself into the luxury that is beer for breakfast.
Harpoon Dunkin Coffee Porter
A collaboration between Massachusetts-based Harpoon Brewing Company and the legendary breakfast chain Dunkin’ Donuts just has to be good. Unsurprisingly, their coffee porter is off the charts delicious, giving off an aroma that’s eerily similar to freshly-ground espresso as soon as you open the can. This jet-black beer has the flavor to back it up too, balancing rich nutty notes with a firm chocolate underbelly and just enough bitterness to keep it in check. Plus, it falls right in the middle alcohol-wise at around six percent ABV, making it a friendly way to start any day.
Funky Buddha Morning Wood Porter
Funky Buddha’s Maple Bacon Porter put the brewery on the map, but it’s not where these brewers’ breakfast beer expertise ends. They decided to take the style about ten steps further, first brewing a supercharged Imperial version of their classic breakfast porter and then barrel aging it for a few months in High West whiskey barrels. The resulting 11.2 percent ABV beer is enough to put you right back into bed, so sip carefully—or find a few friends to share beers with for breakfast. It’s a cult classic in its own right and sells out fast, so pick up a bottle whenever you see it available.
Founders Brewing Canadian Breakfast Stout
When Funky Buddha released their Morning Wood Porter (above), Founders decided it was time to match the style with their own take on a barrel-aged stout. Using the highly successful Breakfast Stout as their base, they brewed an extra-strong Imperial batch. Then the magic comes in: This beer is aged in ex-bourbon barrels, which were then used to store maple syrup, and now add a huge wallop of flavor to every bottle of Canadian Breakfast Stout. Clear your calendar if you’re having one of these for breakfast alone, as it’s a staggering 11.7 percent alcohol.
Carton Brewing Regular Coffee Imperial Cream Ale
When you’re really ready to commit to beer for breakfast, you have to go all the way. And in this case, that means Carton Brewing’s Regular Coffee—an Imperial cream ale brewed to a head-muddling 12 percent ABV. It’s surprisingly light and easy-drinking in spite of this monstrous alcohol content, with a strong golden ale as its base and a healthy addition of milk sugar. This gives it a refined and pleasant sweetness, just enough to cover up the fact that you’re absolutely not going to get anything else done with your day after drinking this first thing in the morning.