April 12th, 2011 beckel
Today I have what is sure to be a fun brew from the always creative Mikkeller and BrewDog. Once again working together to craft beer in BrewDog’s Scotland brewery. This time around things are a bit different, as this is no regular collaborative brew. I Hardcore You is a blend of Mikkellers I Beat yoU, a highly hopped Imperial IPA, and BrewDog’s Hardcore IPA another nicely hopped Imperial IPA. But that wasn’t enough, after blending this brew it was further dry hopped another two times. Making the aroma I got when pouring this brew no surprise.
Pours an opaque maroon hue with about two fingers of off white head and modest lacing. Smells of fruity, earthy and spicy hops that meld nicely with sweet malt and smooth but discernible alcohol. Robust citrus hits my tongue first, ladling on orange, apricot & peach followed by rich toffee malt esters, plenty of bitterness and a wide array of hop esters, from gentle herbal and spice notes to more intense floral and fruity flavors. A truly beautiful play between sweet malt characters and massive hop additions. Though you will quickly notice the alcohol in this 9.5% ABV brew the intense hop flavors and bright malty sweetness do a very good job of making you forget. So much so that I have finished more than half of this 11.2oz bottle in the past 10 minutes or so. Body is very light for the style and the mouthfeel is right in line, coming off very clean and surprisingly delicate. If you enjoy hops, lots and lots of hops, this brew will certainly take you for an enjoyable ride. Yet it is not over the top bitter, creating a very pleasant experience as far as I’m concerned. Over all an incredibly hoppy beer with a lot of light pitted fruit esters and some intriguing herbal and earthy esters. Those looking for serious hops and plenty of sweet malt and alcohol to back it up, look no further. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
June 7th, 2010 beckel
Mikkeller is one fine brewery from Denmark and their Single Hop Series is one of my favorite. So I was very pleased to find this brew on the shelves of South Lyndale Liquors a few weeks ago. East Kent Goldings are a classic English hop traditionally used in English Bitters and Pale Ales and I am excited to experience them in their pure glory with this IPA. This cleanly labled 11.2 oz bottle has 22/12/11 printed on its cap, which I assume is a best by date. When poured this carbonated ale quickly creates four plus fingers of bright white head that slowly opens up settling after a few minutes and leaving a good deal of lacing and about a half an inch of perpetual bubbles around the rim. Color is a modestly hazy apricot hue that is completely opaque. Smells as one would expect with a variety of herbal almost spicy esters and a earthy note that reminds me of orange rind. Tastes of hoppy herbs and spices and solid bitterness contrast with sweet malt esters creating one interesting brew. Again the herbal orange attribute comes through for me in the flavor quite notably. While this brew is obviously hop centric it is rather enjoyable if you are into herbal hops. With a 6.9% ABV it is plenty strong but not over the top for regular consumption. Body is medium and mouthfeel is quite carbonated but not overly sharp. Probably not a beer I would drink regularly because of its scarcity and serious herbal characters make it not as easy to consume by the 6-pack. Probably not the best hop to use on its lonesome but an enjoyable experiment. For those who enjoy variety, learning and sampling unique things this brew is absolutely worth your time. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
April 28th, 2010 beckel
I stopped by The Four Firkins last night for a lovely Breckenridge tasting and was ecstatic to hear that they had gotten in a brew that I have been waiting to show up in our market for close to a year. I have always loved the adventurous spirit of Mikkel BjergsÃ¸, Mikkeller’s brewer and 1000 IBU is a prefect example of it. While some will be quick to argue that 1000 IBU is simply a theoretical measurement and nothing but a marketing gimmick, I say enough with the fretting. You can also read Mikkel’s response if you’re interested.Â It is true that most humans have a hard time detecting bitterness over 100 IBU and various research suggests that the maximum theoretical IBU is far below 200 simply due to solubility issues. Regardless I think one of the best things about brewing is experimentation and having fun with it so the more the merrier, it is after all just a name. As you may know Mikkeller does not have their own brewery (Mikkel calls himself a gypsy-brewer) and this treat was brewed at the De Proef Brewery in Belgium. I believe that this batch is about two months old and it is definitely the kind of beer you want to drink as soon as possible to ensure as little deterioration of hops as possible. This bottle cost about $15 and consists of a 12.7 oz bottle wrapped withÂ labeled paper that when opened reveals a green corked bottle with the same label affixed which depicts a burglar with a bag of hops. Pours a dark hazy almost muddy medium brown hue, containing a small amount of sediment that floats to the bottom of the glass. Upon pouring down the middle of my glass I was immediately greeted by over 5 fingers of tight off white bubbles that slowly open up eventually dissipating but leaving a good deal of lacing and about 2 millimeters of bubbles around the glass and a little island of carbonation on the surface of the beer. I believe this Imperial IPA was bottled one to two months ago and I can’t wait to experience it’s hop aroma. Smells strongly of a myriad of hoppy esters; blueberries, strawberries, pineapple, orange, mango and other citrus esters, massive earthy notes and a bit of pine. Serious bitterness in the nose and a solid dose of alcohol. In addition to hops there is also a very notable malt base to this brew with a number of bready esters and just a hint of caramel. This beer tastes of every thing it smells like and is far more like eating actual hops than any brew I have ever consumed before. A nice, mildly sweet bready malt base that contains a gentle creaminess helps contrast the absurd hop content as to not simply kill you with bitterness. Earthy hop esters are very strong with pine, orange and even pineapple like notes playing a central role. This beer is very bitter but not as overwhelming as I had expected making it surprisingly drinkable.Â Alcohol is noticeable but not overly offensive considering its 9.6% ABV. Body is medium and mothfeel is quite carbonated but still smooth due to a gentle malty creaminess present. While I am very curious how much exactly of what varieties of hops were used in this brew I still find it very impressive how much hop flavor is present in this brew without making it simply consist of pure bitterness. One solid massively hoppy brew that is no joke and probably the most insanely hoppy of the style so far. Not a beer to drink every day (even if you could find that much of it) but certainly worth trying if you enjoy insanely hoppy Imperial IPAs. I’m uncertain if anyone in the city still has this brew in stock but I would certainly recommend calling around if this sounds like something you would enjoy. If you don’t like hops obviously you shouldn’t bother with this beer. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
April 12th, 2010 beckel
Here I have a beer that I am very excited about. Mikkeller’s newest, baddest and biggest Barleywine yet: Big Worst. After reading about its release I thought it sounded insane coming in at very serious 17.6% ABV. So when I saw it on the shelves of The Four Firkins I had to take a bottle home. Mikkeller’s beers tend to be expensive, like all small batch imported brews but I’m happy to say every one I have consumed has been more than worth it. I hope this one is no exception running just over $10 for a 12.7 oz bottle. Lets find out. Pours a deep red hue that is moderately translucent. Just over two fingers of tight off white head is formed and lasts for a few minutes leaving a small amount of lacing and about a millimeter of tight bubbles around the surface of the beer. Nose is rather hot with alcohol, but that is to be expected with such an ABV. Notes of a variety of fruits, cherry in particular come through but have a hard time competing with the alcohol. Flavor is very unique. Sweet molasses and cherry esters are contrasted by seriously strong alcohol. After a few sip the you start getting used to the intense alcohol making it a bit easier to detect the variety of sweet esters present. I particularly notice honey, pear, apricot and plum. Body is very light for a Barleywine and the mouthfeel is very smooth. Bitterness is almost nonexistent making this one sweet brew. Definitely tasty, but certainly not my favorite Mikkeller yet. One of the most unique Barleywines I have consumed, consisting of many flavors not typically found in the style. It is never easy to balance flavor with massive alcohol content but I would say Mikkeller has done something quite interesting. If you are a fan of sweet ales, fruit esters and highly alcoholic brews this just might be the brew for you. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
July 25th, 2009 beckel
Today I have the last brew in Mikkeller’s Single Hop IPA series and I am quite curious to sample it. Like the Cascade this brew was quite carbonated sneaking up the neck a bit after opening but not overflowing. Once poured four fingers of loose pure white head are easily produced slowly fading within a few minutes leaving a very small amount of lacing around the glass and on the surface of the beer. Color is a very attractive bright but hazy orange hue that is completely opaque.Aroma is quite a bit gentler than the others of the series. Some orange citrus and grapefruit and a somewhat flat malt tone. Flavor is interesting but a bit strange. Initially I get orange citrus and some other fruity hop notes which is followed up by an odd flat almost musky and slightly tart flavor that is hard to isolate because it is followed by a good deal of hop bitterness. There are definitely some nice flavors present in this brew but the off flavor present mid palate does make this one of the less awesome brews of the series. Like the rest this brew comes in at an appropriate 6.9% ABV. The body is medium and the mouthfeel is pretty smooth. This bottle was dated 09/04/11 and perhaps other batches of it will taste different. If you feel inspired to try something a little funky this might be the beer for you. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
July 23rd, 2009 beckel
Today I have in front of me the creative Mikkeller’s third venture in his single hop series of IPAs. As it is brewed with only Cascade hops it is sure to be a bit more palatable than the previous beers in the series, Simcoe [review] and Warrior [review] as well as the later Nelson Sauvin [review] and Nugget which currently sits in my fridge waiting to be consumed. I find that by the time Mikkeller’s products get to our stores the date on top of the cap tends to have rubbed off at least partially but this bottle is still relatively clearly dated 08/01/11. First off this is one carbonated bottle, upon opening it carbonation immediately shot up the neck of the 11.2 oz bottle and overflowed onto my table. After cleaning up and pouring the bottle there was still plenty carbonation easily creating an entire hand of fluffy white head that dissipated relatively slowly still leaving a large amount of foam on the surface of the beer and a good deal lacing around the glass. Color is an attractive hazy bright reddish hue that is very opaque. I find the aroma quite nice, full of citruses such as orange and largely grapefruit some clean floral notes and a good does of gentle bitterness. Flavor is pretty much what I expected from a Cascade version after consuming Mikkeller’s previous Single Hop IPAs, full of citrus particularly orange and grapefruit enough sweet malt flavors to compliment and emphasize the hops and a solid dose of delicious hoppy bitterness which nicely distracts from the 6.9% ABV. Mouthfeel is smooth and the body is average for the style. Though Cascade is a hop that the American palate is more accustomed to it doesn’t make this any less of a hardcore hop lovers IPA. If you have enjoyed previous beers in this series but are looking for something that contains more clean citrus notes yet is still plenty bitter this is the brew for you. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
July 21st, 2009 beckel
Today I have a brew that I was very excited to get my hands on. A joint effort by Mikkeller ofÂ Denmark and De Struise Brouwers aka The SturdyÂ Brewers ofÂ De Panne, Belgium. I stopped by The Four Firkins yesterday and was very pleased they still had a bottle available for me as well as a couple of Mikkeller Single Hop brews that I have yet to try including their Cascade which is sure to be the more traditional of the two to our American palates as well as Nugget which I’ve heard some mixed reviews of and am curious to experience for myself. But that is for another day. Even when poured gently this brew creates a massive thick off white colored head that will easily grow as large as you let it and remain for many minutes there after, leaving a good deal of creamy lacing around your glass. Color is a relatively dark date like reddish brown hue that is incredibly opaque allowing almost no light trough. Aroma is full of rich malty notes including a good deal of dark pitted fruits that are very deep and complex yet smooth and sweet. A small amount of alcohol is noticeable in the nose and balanced with a gentle dose of bitterness and some light citrus that is largely hidden by the pitted fruit notes. Wow, this is one complexly flavored ale and with 130 IBUs I suppose that should be expected. Strong pitted fruits such as date seem to be at the front of this beer followed by a melody ofÂ nicely contrasting spices, citrus notes particularly grapefruit and a good deal of bitterness that almost completely distracts me from the hefty 9% ABV of this brew. Considering the complexity of this beer it is amazingly smooth and well balanced with a serious Belgian inspired malt bill and candi sugars that provides enough fruity sweetness to contrast the seriously bitter hop profile. The mouthfeel of this brew is very clean and the body is a bit heavy but not so much that it makes it difficult to down though it is certainly a slow sipping beer. If you are into Belgian inspired brews and seriously hoppy IPAs this beer will bring you straight to heaven. One complex ale that is not for the faint of heart but would make for some marvelous food pairings either with something nice and spicy or something with delicate flavors that contrast nicely with pitted fruits. Unlike many of Mikkellers Single Hop brews that I have sampled I couldn’t drink this beer every day, well not too many of them at least….but I would gladly enjoy it any day if it were available. Though they call this an Imperial IPA I almost think about it as an incredibly hoppy Belgian Strong Ale flavor wise. Regardless if you enjoy bittering hops and pitted fruits bike as fast as you can and find a bottle of this brew. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
My Fridge On A Good Day
July 15th, 2009 beckel
Here I have another single hop brew from the creative Mikkeller Brewing. This time the hops come from a New Zeland developer called HortResearch and are said to smell of gooseberries. I found this particular bottle at Zipps and was very pleased by their selection of Mikkeller, too bad limited brewing and distribution doesn’t come cheap because they make great beers. This particular brew pours with a massive light off white head that easily surpassed four fingers and remained for a number of minutes untill fading into a little puddle of bubbles on the surface and a small amount of lacing around the glass. Color is an interesting obviously unfiltered hazy dark apricot hue that is completely opaque. Aroma is full of hop and really quite interesting. Robustly fruity yet bitter some gentle grapefruit tones as well as some herbal notes, reminds me a lot of the aroma of the Simcoe Single Hop IPA [review] brewed earlier. Flavor however is quite different. A fruit note similar to the aroma is present and moderately sweet but is quickly contrasted by a good deal of hop bitterness and a carbonated mouthfeel with enough of a malt profile to ensure you don’t feel like your just eating hops off the vine. Nelson Sauvin is certainly one interesting hop that creates some delicious flavors, I would be happy to see this hop used more regularly. The body of this beer is reasonably light making this a beer I would happily drink every day enjoying the sun in my back yard if only it were more available and inexpensive (yea I know I said the same thing about the Simcoe IPA but it’s the truth) and with a 6.9% ABV it has a perfect content for continual sipping in my opinion. This IPA is by no means for those who are weary of hops but with that said I really dig it. If you enjoy flavorful hops and aren’t afraid of bitterness you should certainly try this brew. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
June 9th, 2009 beckel
Though I have yet to take a single sip or even pour this brew I am confident saying that this brew is an example of why Mikkeller has been such a successful brewery in its short history. Only an adventurous soul would contemplate brewing a session beer (4.5% ABV) yet add Brettanomyces into the fermentation process. Mikkeller takes inspiration from American breweries who joyously experiment with their brews and are not afraid to challenge the palates of their consumers and is like wise trying to take its Danish fan base on a similar adventure (as well as those of us lucky enough to find their beers across the world). Upon pouring this beer it creates over three fingers of loose white head that very quickly starts to dissipate leaving you with no head in just under a minute aside from a very small amount of lacing around the edge. Color is a largely translucent crisp golden hue. As soon as I opened the bottle a rush a Brettanomyces tartness hit my nose and upon smelling it in a glass it is even more funky. Your typical horse blanket notes are even more musky than many brews creating an aroma similar to mustard seed and some sort of fungus hint. There is a bit of sweet malt in the aroma but it is difficult to isolate. Whoa. That was an interesting first sip. Going from some solid tart funk into a wheaty biscuit flavor mid palate. This is truly one of the strangest sour beers I have ever had, not because of its funk but because of its balance, which I am still trying to grasp. As I continue to drink the initial tartness declines a bit and becomes a really neat accent to the light but bready flavor of this beer. The body is light and the mouthfeel is smooth and clean yet the finish tastes just like a biscuit. The more I drink this beer the more I can see its sessionability as the distinctly sour and grain based flavors start to mesh creating a balance that I initially thought was a bit unpleasant but ends up smooth and really quite nice. If you are a fan of funky beers and English biscuits this is the beer for you. If not you will still probably find it intriguing and surprisingly enjoyable after drinking half the bottle as I have. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
April 21st, 2009 beckel
Yesterday while at the tasting of Summit Brewing’s new Horizon Red Ale I found a number of gems on the shelves of The Four Firkins, including another Single Hop brew from Mikkeller this time around we get to enjoy some Warrior hops. Last July our very own Town Hall brewed up an intense IPA using only Warrior hops [review] and I am curious to see how they contrast. The last numbers on the plain white cap have been smeared off but I’m pretty sure it says 10/12/08. Warrior is a relatively newer bittering hop variety bred by Yakima Chief Ranches and is probably most famously used in Dogfish Head’s delicious IPAs. I poured this beer a bit heavy handily creating over four fingers of off white head, though I’m sure a carefully poured bottle would produce much less the beer is still quite carbonated as my later, gentler pours still created a good deal of further head which eventually faded leaving a decent amount of lacing around the glass. Color is a bright but hazy and opaque apricot with a little bit of sediment present allowing no light to penetrate the brew. Aroma is less intense than I expected it to be but it still contains an assertive citrus hoppiness as well as somewhat floral scents and a solid dose of bitterness. Initially this beer is quite bitter indeed, there is no question that the Warrior hops are doing their job. As I try to get beyond the initial bitterness of this beer there is no question that though it is brewed with one hop it transitions into many different flavors. After the bitterness I get an interesting citrus characteristic similar to orange but also with hints of something like apricot all of which are wrapped in a capsule of bitterness that stays with you until the finish never letting go. The body of this beer is nearing medium but reasonably drinkable if you don’t mind serious bitterness. The mouthfeel of this beer is very interesting as it seems a bit sharp initially but quickly smooths out very nicely, though finishing with another little bite. As I get accustomed to the massive bitterness present in this beer the sweet malt flavors that smooth out the mouthfeel of this beer become more and more apparent. Additionally the bitter and citrus notes come together to produce some almost tart flavors though you will probably only notice this after drinking at least half of the brew. What I find most interesting about this beer is how with the use of just one hardcore hop variety Mikkeller has managed to make a beer that rivals most “hop bombs” in overall hoppy bitterness. Though this beer is not nearly as easy to drink as their Simcoe Single Hop IPA [review] it is still quite tasty and I would be happy to drink many more. With a 6.9% ABV it is no small beer but something that one could still consume many of in a session. Simply put this is not the beer for anyone who is not into bitter hops, as that is exactly what Warrior is. Though it will likely be appreciated by those who enjoy experimenting with different hop flavors be warned it is no joke. Give it a shot and ride your bike.