No one flinches if Sunday brunch features a make-your-own Bloody Mary bar or all-you-can-stomach mimosas, but print “breakfast” on a beer bottle and get ready for trouble. When Moa, a New Zealand brewery, started Breakfast Beer in 2011, it was accused of “normalizing pathological behavior.” Of course, Moa could have just named the beer something else, but then there wouldn’t have been hundreds of articles and blog posts (like this one) all over the world, giving Moa free publicity.
Moa was founded by winemaker Josh Scott and that background inspires his beers. Many are bottle-conditioned, so there’s some yeasty sediment or “lees.” With Breakfast Beer, Moa says it “can either be poured carefully off the lees or alternatively with the lees mixed in if a stronger yeast character is desired.” Let’s go with “stronger,” shall we?
First, you pop the cork on the 12.7-ounce bottle. (5.5% ALC, BTW) I definitely smell the cherry essence that was promised, and worryingly, a little skunk. Very pale straw color on the pour with frothy white head – and cloudy, since I did my best to kick up that deceased yeast.
It’s got a thicker mouthfeel than I anticipated - not sugary sweet, but not bone-dry either. I can’t decide whether the vibe is more “cherry” or “cherry candy.” For better or worse, it’s going to remind some drinkers of cough drops. It’s definitely a wheat beer. I also get hints of banana, raspberry, and (despite the green bottle) a hint of skunk funk.
Moa Breakfast Beer is interesting and makes me curious to try other more conventional beers in the line, but I'm not sold that this is anything more than a novelty - fun once, but once might me enough. The next time you’re having migas or hash and eggs on a late Sunday morning and want a little something along side, I’d suggest a Guinness or a freshly-made michelada.