Two restaurant chains best known for breakfast have recently launched a beverage that people are generally discouraged from drinking in the morning: beer.
Dunkin’ has teamed with Boston-based Harpoon Brewery to release the limited-edition Dunkin’ Coffee Porter, while IHOP has worked with Keegan Ales of Kingston, N.Y., to make IHOPS Pumpkin Pancake Stout.
The Dunkin’ brew is made using the Canton, Mass.-based quick-service chain’s Espresso Blend Coffee and contains 6 percent alcohol by volume. It’s being launched nationally on Oct. 1, but only in retail outlets and bars, not at Dunkin’ locations.
“The Dunkin’ Coffee Porter blend emits aromas of espresso and dark chocolate with a smooth roasted taste like your favorite morning coffee, that is perfect for football Sundays, after a foliage-filled hike or during a bonfire with friends,” according to promotional material for the brew.
The IHOPS is also a dark beer, and it also isn’t available in the chain’s restaurants, few of which have liquor licenses. Instead, it was released in a very limited quantity — only around 20 barrels, or 40 kegs — and is being offered at beer festivals and bars in the New York area through October as part of a promotion of the chain’s seasonal menu items, including Pumpkin Spice Pancakes, Cinn-A-Stack Pancakes — which are buttermilk pancakes layered with cinnamon roll filling and topped with sweet cream cheese icing and whipped topping — and the new Pumpkin Cinnamon Roll Pancakes, which are the Pumpkin Spice Pancakes with cinnamon roll filling.
IHOP claims that the beer tastes like pumpkin pancakes.
“It’s interesting to me that two operations known for their breakfast focus have decided to convert those flavors and that experience into beer,” said David Flaherty, a beverage columnist for Nation’s Restaurant News. Noting the beers’ limited distribution, he said the beers were clearly intended as marketing vehicles, not sources of profit.
“I, personally, would love to try the beers. If they do remind me of the dining experience, either at IHOP or Dunkin’, that can be a fun and transformative experience. The breweries that they teamed up with are legit and known for experimenting,” added Flaherty, who is a certified Cicerone, or beer specialist.
“There is some uniqueness in taking the idea of breakfast and combining it with beer,” Flaherty said, adding that it’s not unheard of: From the culinary side there are chefs doing spins on breakfast items such as the cereal milk at David Chang’s Milk Bar, and from the beer side with certain beer styles such as breakfast porters and breakfast stouts.
“I don’t foresee this as a long, growing trend, but more as a creative exploration in [the chains’] everyday operations that keeps things exciting and fun.”
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