Beer and Pavement


Posted in Beer by SM on July 6, 2010

I won’t even try to tell their story1. I’ll just goof up the details2.

Two Danish bros travel around Europe and the US, use the facilities at several fine craft breweries to create some of the best, if not most interesting beers around. There’s nifty packaging and even niftier names to boot. And they don’t just do the obscure styles. They do the beers we love: the imperial India pale ale, imperial stouts, Belgian styles, etc.  And there’s also all those experimental beers, the sours, the stouts made with weasel poop3, and variations upon variations of their top sellers.

Again, Mikkeller may or may not be the best brewery in the world, but they are certainly the most interesting.

A friend came over for beers and dinner. For the evening, I broke out two Mikkeller brews. We split a bottle of the I Beat yoU DIPA they brewed at Scotland’s Brew Dog and the infamous and hard-to-fathom 1000 IBU.

One of the more interesting series of beers Mikkeller has released is their run of single-hopped IPA’s. In the arms race of the imperial/double IPA, Mikkeller has found a niche in isolating hops and playing with the style in ways few American brewers would ever try. Using a rather simple recipe, the Mikkeller boys isolated a hop with each batch, making it possible to taste side-by-side the differences in hops. I’ve sat in on a session where someone provided four such beers. It was amazing the variations we found in aroma and taste among the hops4.

Well, they’ve done ten of those beers. Someone thought it might be a good idea to toss all ten of those hops into one beer. Someone else might think this would never work, not I. The resulting beer is all flower5 on the nose and has a really complex taste that goes beyond bitterness. Sure, it’s bitter, but not too bitter. You catch one hop upon first taste and another as it goes down your throat. It even becomes more convoluted as it warms. Really, it’s a beautiful beer wrapped neatly inside a gimmick.

We then moved to a bigger, badder version of a Mikkeller DIPA. The 1000 IBU is becoming a favorite of mine, an expensive favorite6, but a favorite nonetheless. Considering that the average Joe can taste 100, maybe 120 IBU’s7, one would think a beer ten times the IBU’s would be virtually undrinkable. When I first thought of 1000 IBU’s, I thought of this:

That didn’t happen. Thankfully.

No, instead, what this beer revealed is unbelievable balance and subtlety. Don’t get me wrong; it’s a hop bomb. It’s just that it tastes so…so…well, good. An even more amazing feat than 1000 IBU’s was to make a beer at 1000 IBU’s that was delicious. The sweetness found in its malt bill is maybe more impressive than the 1000 international bitterness units.

For me, Mikkeller represents the best of hipsters8. There’s genuine ingenuity. The classics are celebrated and even enhanced without losing touch with tradition. There’s style in their packaging that is not only aesthetically pleasing but also demonstrates depth and careful planning. Once again, I don’t know that Mikkeller makes the best beer, but I know that they make some of the most interesting brews. The two beers above suggest they make interesting and great beers.

And since I’m on a positive hipster beer kick9, you should check out one of my favorite reviews from Hot Knives collection of great beer reviews in zine form. They give Mikkeller’s Black Hole Stout the proper treatment. I don’t think I’ve posted anything about these bros before. Let’s just say they are the equivalent of Mikkeller in beer blog form. They’re a little punk and DIY. They’ve got that hipster10 thing going. Oh, and they know good beer. So, once again, while I’m on a pro-hipster, beer roll, you should shoot over to Hot Knives for some real beer writing.

1Actually, I’ll tell you just enough. You can check out their story here. Be sure to click on the American flag.
2Of course, that’s what footnotes are for.
3Yes. There is a beer made with weasel poop. Well, actually, it’s a coffee stout made with coffee that comes from weasel poop.
4My favorite is the Simcoe variation with its grapefruit aroma and flavor. I’m anxiously awaiting the Citri version.
5My drinking buddy for the evening actually said, “This beer smells like a flower.”
6Thirteen bucks for a bottle that measures just over twelve ounces. Luckily, this town is about out of these beers.
7“IBU” stands for “international bitterness units”. It’s a measurement of bitterness in beer based on the amount and types of hops you use to brew a beer. Beers described as “hoppy” typically range between 60 and 80 IBU’s. Really big, bitter hop bombs begin to approach 100. To give you perspective, Budweiser has around 11.
8Before you jump all over me for bashing hipsters or even just bringing them up, I think I will demonstrate a positive view of hipsterdom which benefits us all. Usually, hipsters make great music, but in this case they make great beer.
9See. There’s nothing wrong with critiquing hipsters if you’re also willing to praise them.
10That was a bonus “hipster” there.

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  1. […] A difficult, hard-to-find, and expensive beer just won’t be readily accepted by the average beer drinker. This is the challenge Mikkeller has to face on a regular basis in winning over fans. These factors play into the average beer enthusiast’s dislike of Mikkeller. However, if one were to take the time, it becomes quite apparent that Mikkeller brews some of the best beers on the market. […]

  2. […] was a post wrought with errors where I all I gushed over the brilliance of IPA’s produced outside the IPA-USA that just boggled my mind and […]

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