Reviews, Commentary and Opinions on Midwest Craft Beer and Microbreweries

October 27, 2010

Beer and Food:

Pancakes For Breakfast?

Put some fluff in your flapjacks with—what else—beer.
by Eddie Glick

I like my beer like my women: pale, strong, full-bodied, and extremely bitter.
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I guess I grew up kind of weird. I never had pancakes for breakfast. It’s not that I didn’t eat pancakes at all, it’s just that I never had them for the day’s most important meal. I remember being a teenager when I first saw them on the breakfast menu of a greasy spoon cafe and thinking it one of the oddest things I’d ever seen, akin to chicken wings or hamburgers or pasta or beer on a breakfast menu. It all seemed completely foreign to me—I’d only ever had them for supper.

(Which actually wasn’t because I grew up weird, it’s probably because I grew up on a farm. Pancakes were easy to make for a large group—especially on an ancient griddle that was a fire hazard waiting to happen (but didn’t) and the size of the Texas panhandle, big enough to cook up something like fifty eight plate-sized hotcakes at once—they filled you up, and, most importantly, they were dirt cheap. Throw in some fake-maple flavored high fructose corn syrup (Log Cabin, Mrs. Butterworth was for the rich kids) and you’ve got yourself sustenance for one more day.)

To this day, ordering up some cakes for breakfast seems vaguely decadent, like now I’m really living the high life. But I still enjoy them for dinner, too, and far more often—because I make ’em. (Pancakes are my second most frequent meal, after oatmeal.) Of course, now I don’t dump any chintzy flavored corn syrup on my griddle creations. It’s gotta be real maple syrup (go for the grade B dark amber; it’s darker and tastes more strongly of maple sap, and—bonus—it’s cheaper) with a giant pat of real fucking butter splat in the center (margarine is for commies and jackwagons).

Plus, I’ve been slowly exploring new recipes for the ordinary—but still tasty—pancake. Yummy supermodel Rachael Ray apparently put out a cookbook (who knew she could even cook?), and in it I found this handy little hint: Substitute half the recipe’s liquid (usually milk) with beer. According to her, it’ll make your pancakes fluffier than this puppy. So I tried it using an old bottle of New Glarus Spotted Cow I found in the back of my beer fridge and, lo and behold, Rach was right! Those flapjacks were light, fluffy, and golden brown—even some of the Cow’s yeastiness came through.

That initial success got me to thinking: why stick to a relatively bland beer like Spotted Cow when there are so many flavorful brews out there? Instead of using a craft brew just to add some air to your cakes, why not use it as an integral flavoring agent? Can anyone say chocolate stout pancakes?

These are frickin’ awesome: the chocolate maltiness of the beer actually comes through in the final product, making a rich, filling (even more than usual) pancake. You’ve gotta be careful about what beer you use, though. Nothing too dry, too brash, or too harsh—so, although delicious, brews like Bell’s Expedition Stout, Founders Imperial Stout, and Three Floyds Black Sun will make your flapjacks way too bitter to be enjoyable. Go with the silkiest, smoothest stouts you can think of. Naturally, Founders Breakfast Stout is my preferred choice. Other good candidates are Two Brothers Northwind, Great Lakes Blackout Stout, and Lake Louie Mr. Mephisto’s. Three Floyds Moloko would work, too, as well as Lakefront Fuel Cafe (although that might be a tad too dry). You could probably even get by with a dark, rich, smooth (rich and smooth being the key words here, so I’d advise against Baltics) porter, like Founders Porter.

Be aware, though, that some of the alcohol (if not all) evaporates during cooking, so the cakes can come out a little on the dry side. Not to panic, though: just dump some extra grade B dark amber maple syrup (locally sourced—easy to get in the Midwest) on your silver dollars and wash them down with some of the beer you cooked them with. Drinking beer with pancakes?!? No stranger than pancakes for breakfast, in my book.

Today is the feast day of St. Arnold, patron saint of beer.

Drinkin’ And Thinkin’

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