What took you beer guys so long? It’s 2011 and you’re only just now coming up with a brew targeted to morning drinkers? New Zealand’s Moa Brewery is focusing on a grossly underserved segment of the beer-drinking population with the introduction of Moa Breakfast, a brew worth getting out of bed for. This is what marketing people refer to as “low-hanging fruit.”
Naturally, not everybody is pleased with the Marlborough brewery’s breach of booze-industry marketing mores that once held that drinking becomes acceptable only at the crack of noon. “It is normalizing pathological behavior,” said National Addiction Center director Doug Sellman. “Here we have fools seeking to profit from encouraging the behavior,” added Alcohol Healthwatch adviser Christine Rogan.
Seeking to profit? Absolutely. But the beer men at Moa are hardly fools. Breakfast beers are a great tradition around the world, enjoyed by everyone from Czech miners to Hong Kong stock traders, and they’re no more pathological than beers consumed at any other time of day. When I lived in Latvia, there was a beer called “Labrit!” (good morning) that nobody lost sleep over.
If you can’t handle the concept of moderation, you shouldn’t be drinking at all. If you get behind the wheel while you’re buzzed, you should lose your license and spend some time in jail. If you don’t fulfill your responsibilities at work, you should lose your job. But under the right circumstances, a beer in the morning is a beautiful thing, despite the finger-wagging of some watchdog group. I certainly don’t have the stomach for a 6am martini, but a small glass of ale as the sun climbs into the sky and the birds start chirping can make for a perfect moment of reflection and quiet contemplation.
Of course, a beer doesn’t have to have the word “breakfast” on the label to complement your omelette and fruit cup. Taste-wise, any medium-bodied, low-alcohol brew should do it – I’m thinking something like Brooklyn Summer Ale. But it is a stroke of genius for Moa to be so bold as to tell people that it’s okay to pop one open and greet the day on your terms. There are many less healthy things you could have for breakfast, from a cup of McDonald’s oatmeal (more sugar than a Snickers bar) to a 470-calorie Starbucks White Chocolate Mocha. But the trash man sipping a juice-glass worth of lager before starting an eight-hour shift is the bad guy? Please.
Moa is officially unveiling its breakfast beer at Auckland’s Quay Street Cafe on Thursday at 7am, and I wish I could be there. I would only drink one of the cherry-flavored wheat lagers, but I would enjoy every sip of it, and then I’d go for a stroll along the Quay and watch the mist rise over the water and think about how beautiful it all is. Everything would be just fine.