In defence of drinking a breakfast beer
It's time we all shed the self-loathing that comes with cracking into a morning pint
Is there anything more thrilling than an AM lager?
I would like to put a theory to you that: no, there is not. Jump out of an aeroplane, for all I care. Go on a rollercoaster. Ask a human being out, in real life, with your mouth, in sheer daylight. Anything you can do to get your heart pumping and the adrenaline pulsing through your spiked blood: attempt it. And I will sit here and crack a single fridge-cold tin of lager – crrsht, zzclk, pttsh – and drink it while Jeremy Kyle is still on, and I will feel every emotion of thrill and more.
Just like you never forget your first, actual, enjoyable lager (I am not talking about the foam sucked from your dad’s pint when you were a child, or those first few lukewarm cans you stole from the cupboard at home and choked down in a park, or that first flat pint you had in that pub near school that served sixth formers: I am talking about your first pint-pint, the first pint you had that tasted good), so you never forget your first morning beer.
Mine was at Leeds Festival, 2008: I woke up in a tent, greasy with a thin film of my own sweat, scorching in the heat of the sun – so tremendously hungover I thought I would die. I rolled over and found one can of lager and an entire sleeve of Jaffa Cakes.
I consumed them both in that way hungry people do, where they eat and drink so fast they only make desperate, pig-like sounds – like when a toddler tries to run – then immediately walked outside, healed. In many ways, the tent was the cave, the lager was the love of God, and I was Jesus, back from the dead.
I think the secret to a good morning beer is the same thing that makes drinking in the shower so fun: that frisson of illicitness that comes with it. It is fundamentally wrong – both physically, mentally and morally – to drink a beer before noon.
The phrase, ‘It’s five o’clock somewhere!’ exists for a reason: without rules, we would have chaos. Without a chalk line dividing the day, telling us on which side of it we can drink and which side we can’t, the world would descend into darkness.
What I am saying is: tell me it is alright to drink a lager at any hour of the day and I will have a Heineken for breakfast. Knowing it is wrong – knowing that society disapproves of me drinking beer while some people are still in bed – enhances the taste of the drink in my hand. In many ways, drinking a can before noon tickles the exact same synapses that make up a fetish.
There are some examples of times when it is alright to drink a beer before morning turns to day: on a bank holiday Monday or the Sunday preceding a bank holiday Monday; on a stag do, while three solid lads you don’t really know, but are sharing an Airbnb room with, quietly watch cartoons in the corner, still awake from the night before; literally any morning between the ages of 19 and 23; at any festival or any trip that necessitates sleeping in a tent; on the day of some, but not all, funerals (read the room); Christmas Day.
And if you are flying out of any British airport before noon to go on your holidays, it is against the law not to go to the Wetherspoons there and drink a pint. If you are on holiday in France – or any European country where cheap, good alcohol is available from any and all supermarkets – then it is also against convention to not have at least a bottle of wine with bread for breakfast.
There are times when drinking a beer before you’ve brushed your teeth is unacceptable, and we have to pay lip service to that (if you are regularly cracking a can while Piers Morgan is on morning TV, I understand, but there’s a fine line between ‘cheeky breakfast bev!’ and ‘drinking dependence’).
Beyond that, morning boozing is becoming gentrified like everything else: who among us hasn’t been to a £25-a-head all-you-can-drink Prosecco- fuelled brunch? Like everything, morning drinking can be dressed up and have a slick face put on it and sold at a profit.
But beneath that veneer, there is the heart of something naughty, and good, and universal: a beer in a stained-carpet pub after a long night shift; a glass of Champagne on the day of your wedding; a can, consumed on the sofa, after a maximum of 55 minutes’ sleep; an entire jug of Bloody Mary consumed on a picnic blanket.
Breakfast drinking is a noble – and curiously British – tradition. Here’s to it.
(Illustration: Drawn by Adam, other image: Getty)