It is 9:30 on a Saturday morning and you find yourself in the pub; what are you drinking?
Let me clarify:
This is not a special occasion such as a wedding, when you may be expected to indulge in a little celebratory bucks fizz.
This is not an airport bar on the way to your holidays, when drinking is pretty much mandatory whatever time of day it is.
This is not a club where you are still out partying from the night before.
No, this is an ordinary bar, in an ordinary town on an ordinary Saturday morning.
So, what are you drinking?
I don’t have to work too hard to imagine this scenario because this is the position that I found myself in last Saturday morning.
I was in a Wetherspoons for breakfast.
And what I was drinking, to wash down my full English breakfast, was tea.
That sounds like a reasonable answer. Orange juice would also be acceptable, as would coffee at a push.
If your answer was something alcoholic perhaps you should ask yourself whether you have a problem…
However, you would not be alone.
There were several men in the bar (for they were all men) with pints before them.
In some cases it appeared that these were not their first.
In most cases it appeared that they certainly wouldn’t be their last.
And in all cases the drinkers seem to be casually at home in the pub in a way that suggested this was not a rare treat, but a regular Saturday ritual.
Despite the fact that Wetherspoons is a well known purveyor of real ale, the pints being consumed seemed to consist entirely of either lager or Guinness.
This got me thinking: is there something about lager and Guinness that makes it inherently suited to breakfast drinking, or do these just happen to be the drinks of choice for people who tend toward breakfast-time drinking?
It seems to me that the preferences of breakfast drinkers would make a good subject for some studious academic research.
When I asked on Twitter about the presence of any such research, Pete Brown opined that “porter and stout always win fried breakfast hands down”,
Now that is interesting, but it raises the need for an altogether different piece of research. Although I was eating a fried breakfast in the pub, none of the regular breakfast drinkers were: the beer was their breakfast.
This research is much more around food and beer pairing, a growing science in its own right and an area surely much more suited to decent real ale. I like the sounds of that kind of research.
Pete’s answer clearly brings him down on the Guinness drinkers’ end of the spectrum, although I suspect he had a more individual beverage in mind.
I confess that when I am washing down my breakfast fry-up in an airport bar I do tend to go for the Guinness option, but that is generally due to limited options.
Instinctively, however, it seems to me that a refreshing, but not too hoppy, pale ale would do the job of cutting through the grease and salt of a fry-up better, in the same way that I prefer a refreshing cup of tea over coffee. That seems to put me closer to the lager end of the spectrum.
Or, perhaps closer to the tea analogy would be a good English bitter; or maybe a sour beer could be drunk in place of grapefruit juice.
Clearly there is only one way to answer this question: some serious research is required – who’s for breakfast?