I’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.
Jonge 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.
Mexas 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.
Nelson-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.