There are all sorts of reasons why American pale ale is a perfect fit for brunch. Its citrus-forward hop character can brighten up the table like a mimosa, while its relatively restrained and balanced flavor profile means you’re more likely to find it compatible with your dish. Meanwhile, its moderate strength gives you a bit more control over that midday buzz.
As an ingredient, it has many of the same strengths: It can add bright citrus, subtle, sometimes biscuit-like, malt flavors, and a typically restrained bitterness that provides structure without overwhelming other ingredients. Another advantage is its wide availability—if you find yourself throwing together brunch and want to try out one of these three recipes, there’s a decent chance you already have some pale ale in your fridge.
Beer Tasting Notes: In its more classic, Cascade-driven iterations, an American pale ale tends to offer mellow aromatics of grapefruit and pine, often with lighter biscuit- or cracker-like malt. It can be firmly but not harshly bitter, finding balance with light malt sweetness. Freshness and balance are key to its great drinkability—that trait is its real advantage over—and what distinguishes it from—most IPAs. Many more recent pale ales follow the hazy trend—typically sweeter, softer, and rounder, but with more tropical aroma and juicier hop flavor—but in those, freshness and balance are no less important.
Beer Suggestions: Boulevard Pale Ale (Kansas City, Missouri), Cellarmaker Tiny Dankster (San Francisco), Half Acre Daisy Cutter (Chicago), Maine Beer Peeper (Freeport, Maine), Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (Chico, California), Three Floyds Zombie Dust (Munster, Indiana).
Eggs Benedict with Arugula Pesto
- 3 egg yolks
- 2 Tbs lemon juice
- 2 cup (473 ml) butter, melted
- 1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp Tabasco
- Kosher salt, to taste
Heat a sauté pan filled with water over medium heat. Meanwhile, in a stainless-steel mixing bowl, combine the egg yolks and lemon juice and whisk for 1 minute. When the heating water begins to show bubbles on the bottom of the pan, gently place the mixing bowl over the water and continue to whisk, slowly cooking the egg yolks until you have ribbons. Remove from the heat and whisk in the melted butter in a slow steady stream; the butter should be warm but not hot. Season with Worcestershire, Tabasco, and salt to taste.
- 2 garlic cloves, cut in half, green shoots removed
- 2 Tbs (heaping) shelled walnuts
- 4 oz (113 g) arugula, stemmed, washed, and dried (about 2 cups of leaves, tightly packed)
- ½ tsp salt
- ⅓–½ cup (78–118 ml) extra-virgin olive oil, as needed
- 2 Tbs American pale ale
- ⅓–½ cup (78–118 ml) freshly grated Parmesan, to taste
Turn on a food processor fitted with a steel blade and drop in the garlic cloves. When they are chopped and adhering to the sides, stop the machine, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and add the walnuts. Turn on the machine, and process until the walnuts are finely ground. Scrape down the bowl again and add the arugula and salt. Pulse until the arugula is finely chopped, then turn on the machine and run while you slowly drizzle in the olive oil. When the mixture is smooth, stop the machine, scrape down the sides again and process for another 30 seconds or so. Add the cheese to taste.
With a rubber spatula, scrape the pesto from the food processor and refrigerate, covered, until ready to use.
- 12 oz (355 ml) American pale ale
- 4 eggs
- 2 English muffins, split and toasted
- 4 slices ham
- 1 cup (237 ml) hollandaise
- ¼ cup (59 ml) arugula pesto
Fill a deep sauté pan with 1" (6 mm) of water, add the beer, and bring to a slow simmer. Gently crack each egg into the water, giving each egg enough space. Poach the eggs to your desired doneness. Place the ham on top of each English muffin half and carefully place an egg on top of each ham slice. Top each egg with 2–3 Tbs of hollandaise, then with 1–2 tsp of arugula pesto. Serve immediately.