Monday, March 23, 2015

Breakfast of Champions

Written by  Jennifer Sutherland
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When German eyes are smiling? Kuhnhenn Brewery hosted their annual Breakfast of Champions celebration on St. Patrick’s Day. Also known for their solstice events and their German heritage-inspired Oktoberfest, the Irish themed day is a favorite among both locals and craft beer enthusiasts.
This year’s event included a second day to celebrate – with Stone Clover performing the evening of March 16 to a crowded tent. Self-described as Detroit Irish rock & roll, the band gets everyone singing and swaying their glasses to their music. Fun fact: lead singer Paul Brady is the Head Brewer at Walkerville Brewery in Windsor.

But the main event was on St. Patrick’s Day itself. With the brewery opening at 7am (which is legally the earliest they could open!), the line began forming hours before the sun even peeked through the clouds.

One of the first people to grab a seat at the bar, Barb Baker has been to Kuhnhenn every year but one (for a work trip) since 2008. This is her favorite way to celebrate the day because she “likes the beer, especially the Blueberry Pancake beer. But it’s also about the people. There is such a great feeling of community here."

The name “Breakfast of Champions” is intentional and two-fold. First is the food. The Brewery provides a buffet breakfast every year of blueberry pancakes (of course), biscuits and gravy, and corned beef hash. This year, the food was provided by St. Ann Parish next door, with requested donations to support the Men’s Club activities which supports children programs at the school and parish.

But the true stars of the “Breakfast of Champions” are the breakfast themed beers, available on a limited basis. With a dozen or so rotating flavors to choose from, the brewers selected six flavors for this year. The Blueberry Pancake was a crowd favorite. Made with real maple syrup, the final flavor was deliciously similar to the culinary family favorite without being too sweet.

The best seller each year is the Lucky Charms Lager. The mild marshmallow, yet fruity, toasted flavor evokes memories of sitting at the kitchen table growing up.

Other breakfast beer options included cookie crisp dunkel, cocoa puffs stout, cap’n crunchberries, and ruby red grapefruit wit. The wit is the first in a series of fruit flavored wit beers that will be replacing the popular Panty Dropper series.

Also available was an Irish Dry Stout, Leann Dubh, on the firkin on the tent. It was drinkable and event appropriate.

Creating the right flavor profile for these unique beers is a lot of fun, says co-owner and brewer Bret Kuhnhenn. Finding the right ingredients to make a breakfast beer is both art and science. He also enjoys seeing the “early risers every year. They are good customers. I love seeing the third shifters.”

Kuhnhenn Brewery provided two tents – one for the food and the other for the entertainment. Reggie Smith & the After Party kept the partying going for several hours, into the night.

The “Breakfast of Champions” is an event you don’t want to miss. Plan to visit Kuhnhenn Brewery next St. Patrick’s Day. But, in the meantime, Kuhnhenn has more fun planned. Minister of Beerformation at the brewery, Jon Piepenbrok shared some upcoming events that craft beer lovers can find Kuhnhenn. American Craft Beer Week in May will be a highlight, with events throughout Frankenmuth. There will be a tap takeover at Sullivan’s Black Forest brewery. And many other local Frankenmuth bars will have at least one Kuhnhenn beer on tap.

Jennifer Sutherland

Jennifer Sutherland

Jennifer N Sutherland began her long time love of craft beer as a student at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, at Bell’s Brewery. Jennifer is a member of several craft beer groups. Her favorite is the Detroit Draft Divas, an amazing group of women who appreciate craft beer and celebrate local breweries. A Michigan Brewer’s Guild enthusiast member for many years, Jennifer regularly attends the guild fests, in addition to many other beer fests. Combining her love of travel and good beer, Jennifer often visits local breweries as she travels the world. Jennifer also enjoying hosting brewery tours for Motor City Brew Tours.