Beer: Mikkeller “Six Pack” Direct From Denmark

crookedmoonI’m smitten with the beers of Mikkeller, a so-called “gypsy” brewer based in Denmark. Though my enjoyment rate is somewhere around 75% when it comes to the actual flavor of the beers, it’s hard not to flip completely for a brewer doing so many wild and different things with so many ingredients. Naturally, not all of the beers, which are brewed at various sites (hence the unofficial “gypsy” designation), make it to the USA. So I was overjoyed when a family friend arrived from Denmark, and equally stoked to receive six Mikkeller beers, only one of which I’ve ever seen around home.

Crooked Moon Tattoo (Double IPA) – I love it when the world’s best brewers take a big swing at something simple, and this DIPA fits the description. What better way to get to know a brewer than through this style? Gargantuan amounts of hops will greet you, and even if your palate has grown more tolerant of hop flavors, you won’t miss the in-your-face tropical fruit and pine notes.

spontanaleJonge Spontanale Four Month (Lambic) – One of the most fascinating things about Mikkeller is the lineage of the beers. It doesn’t get more interesting to hardcore beer geeks than to read about, for example, this lambic: “First released draft as 2 months old at Copenhagen Beer Celebration 2012. Later released carbonated at 4 months old.” The story adds flavor, even to a beverage as funky as this one. Sour grapes in particular, along with yeasty funk and a broader vibe of sour fruit dominate.

Spontankriek (Cherry Lambic) – Lambic is not my favorite style, and I doubt I’d return to any variety that I tried. But I’ll always remember this one and how it provided the feeling of biting directly into a wild, dark, ripe, firm cherry. It has a bit of the same funky presence as the Jonge, so it is hard not to draw comparisons between them. The slightest hint – and I mean very slight – of sweetness peeks though the tartness and carbonation, distinguishing the flavor. The color is incredible.

mexasMexas Ranger Tequila Edition (Chile Beer) – Adventurous drinkers may not blink at the mention of beer brewed with chiles anymore, but Mexas Ranger is bound to become a memorable name nonetheless. This is my favorite chile beer out of the six or so I’ve sampled. I wasn’t a fan of the Texas Ranger (a chipotle porter), so I was skeptical. But the tequila aging rounds out the spices so nicely, the slight twinge of heat becomes a welcome sensation instead of a hindrance. Chocolate and herbiness in the back make this a complex and unforgettable beer.

Piscator (Sour/Wild Ale) – Brewed as a tribute to Danish fishermen and meant to be paired with fish, this beautifully carbonated, remarkably amber beer introduces itself with a massive head and an aroma of banana and spice. An undeniable flourish of alcohol pokes through Belgian elements like brett, sour funk, caramelized sugar, and dark fruit.

nelsonNelson-Sauvignon (Biere de Champagne) – Another Mikkeller brew with a dazzling appearance, this impossibly amber beer is fermented with ale yeast and the ever-popular brett yeast, then aged in white wine barrels for three months. Nelson hops add flavor, and drinking this 750 ml bottle was an experience. At first, it’s like champagne – bubbly and fruity, followed by dry. Then, a hint of yeasty funk creeps through, and as the beer warms the hops begin to assert themselves. It’s a one-of-a-kind experience.

The gospel of Mikkeller seems to be spreading, with global expansion in the works for Mikkel and his brother. Get your hands on a few of these outrageous creations and you’ll be converted as well.

Wounded Messenger’s Top 12 Albums and Concerts of 2012

If I replace a top “ten” albums or concerts of the year list with a number corresponding to the year, by 2030 I won’t even have to decide anymore.

It’s dangerous and a bit cheesy, just like most popular music. But I will give in to the urge to not have to chop two more albums off this list and roll with my top 12 albums of 2012, in alphabetical order.

Ben Folds FiveThe Sound of the Life of the Mind
Choir of Young BelieversRhine Gold
DiivOshin
Father John MistyFear Fun
Hiss Golden MessengerPoor Moon
Maps and AtlasesBeware and Be Grateful
Matthew E. WhiteBig Inner
The Mountain GoatsTranscendental Youth
Patterson HoodHeat Lightning Rumbles in the Distance
Punch BrothersWho’s Feeling Young Now?
Sharon Van EttenTramp
Tame ImpalaLonerism

What’s that you say? Serve myself? OK, here are 5 honorable mentions, AKA albums 13 through 17….

First Aid KitThe Lion’s Roar
Jason LytleDept. of Dissappearance
Jimmy Herring BandSubject to Change Without Notice
Titus AndronicusLocal Business
WoodsBend Beyond

If you follow the Twitter, you know I saw a ton of shows in 2012. Here are my 12 favorites, in alphabetical order.

The Grandmothers of Invention – Cat’s Cradle, Carrboro, NC
The Hold Steady – Cat’s Cradle, Carrboro, NC
Journey/Pat Benetar/Loverboy – Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, NC
Matthew E. White – Fletcher Opera Theater, Raleigh, NC
Puscifer – Bonnaroo, Manchester, TN
Roger Waters – PNC Arena, Raleigh, NC
Rodrigo y Gabriela – Bonnaroo, Manchester, TN
Superjam – Bonnaroo, Manchester, TN
Toon & The Real Laww – Pour House Music Hall, Raleigh, NC
Warren Haynes Presents The Christmas Jam – Asheville, NC
White Denim/Maps and Atlases/Tiny Victories – The Lincoln Theater, Raleigh, NC
Victor Wooten Band/Jimmy Herring Band – Carolina Theater, Durham, NC

Look for live tweets from the 24th Warren Haynes Christmas Jam this weekend, and a review too. Happy Holidays!

Update: New Album Review and Two New Concert Reviews, Plus Photos

I’ve been stupid busy lately with shows. Thankfully I have a couple of weeks off until more great music rolls our way.

Here’s what I’ve been up to over the last few weeks:

Concert Review – White Denim, Maps and Atlases, Tiny Victories at Lincoln Theater, Raleigh, NC

Album Review – The Infamous Stringdusters, Silver Sky

Concert Review – Jimmy Herring Band & Victor Wooten Band, Carolina Theater, Durham, NC

Enjoy these shots from the shows!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Hopscotch Music Festival Review, Patterson Hood Album Review

There are a couple of new items up at Glide Magazine. Firstly, my review of the Hopscotch Music Festival, which continues to amaze year after year. Then there’s my review of Patterson Hood’s latest, Heat Lightning Rumbles in the Distance. There is so much good stuff on the horizon – The Hold Steady, Jimmy Herring and Victor Wooten, Liquid Soul (in Chicago!), and THE WHO. Stay tuned, and thank you…