Mikkeller - Better Half
- ABV: 6.8%
- Serving Temperature: 45-50° F
- Suggested Glassware: Pint Glass or Mug
Pouring a fairly deep reddish-amber with creamy off-white foam and good clarity, this IPA is a looker. From the first sniff there’s no doubt that it’s an American-style IPA as there are prominent, juicy, citric notes bolstered by some floral overtones, all overlaying a pretty robust caramel malt backbone. Like with any IPA, expect the hop bitterness to come through on the palate quite firmly – but it’s not overdone. The caramel malts are bold, with a drying toasty impression matching up well with the drying hop acidity. We really enjoyed the very pure citrus juice-like hop character reminiscent of orange and grapefruit, along with resinous pine notes and spice. We also felt there was a somewhat earthy note running through the whole thing which seemed to really tie everything together. Try pairing this IPA with spicy Creole or Vietnamese dishes. Cheers!
Founded in 2006 by Mikkel Borg Bjergsø and his friend Kristian Keller (who soon after departed for an editorial position at Copenhagen-based magazine Soundvenue), Mikkeller has truly blazed a new trail in the brewing world. While working as a college physics and math teacher, Mikkel began homebrewing with Keller as well as two of his students, Tobias Emil Jensen and Tore Gynther (who later went on to start their own brewing company, To Øl, in 2010); the group would brew in the school’s kitchen when unused at night after 10 pm. Inspired both by European brewing tradition as well as bold American craft beer styles, like aggressively hopped IPAs, Mikkeller spent more than two years kitchen brewing and refining recipes, eventually winning several awards at homebrew competitions. They started brewing larger quantities at the Danish microbrewery Ørbæk, and when Mikkel’s twin brother Jeppe started a beer store in Copenhagen in 2005, the beer found a ready audience among the store’s patrons.
Mikkeller’s coffee-infused stout, Beer Geek Breakfast, quickly soared in popularity and really put them on the map, so the duo began brewing at another microbrewery, Gourmet Bryggeriet, to meet the demand. Thus, Mikkeller began down the path that has made them famous – that of the self-described “gypsy brewer.”
After Kristian’s departure in 2007, Mikkel continued to build Mikkeller into a force to be reckoned with. He’s avoided making the massive capital investments necessary with building one’s own brewery, instead choosing to travel to different breweries, renting time and space with which to brew his beers. To say that this “gypsy-brewing” approach has been successful would be to put it mildly as Mikkeller’s beers have become some of the most awarded and coveted out there, with the brewer consistently ranked among the Top 100 by RateBeer. In fact, several other superb brewers have come on the scene in recent years and followed in Mikkeller’s gypsy footsteps (Stillwater and the aforementioned To Øl come immediately to mind).
The gypsy-brewing model affords much creative flexibility, and Mikkeller has deservedly become known for its use of nontraditional ingredients and concept-driven efforts that, well, actually work. Mikkeller’s Single Hop and Yeast Series lineups incorporate savvy, educational elements, while other offerings include ingredients such as Kopi Luwak coffee, lychee fruits, currants, chiles, and Chateau d’Yquem barrels, to name but a few. Because Mikkel travels frequently to other breweries, many of his beers end up as collaborations with those breweries, further increasing the variety and creativity the Mikkeller brand is able to deliver to its customers. He’s brewed at or collaborated with such world class brewing illuminati as AleSmith, Stone, De Struise, Jester King, Three Floyds, BrewDog, Amager, Anchorage, Sly Fox (this month’s featured beers), and, most frequently, Belgium’s De Proef Brouwerij.
Mikkel Bjergsø has long beer a favorite brewer of ours, and we’ve featured his beers several times in our Rare Beer Club®, both as normal monthly features as well as special offers. We’re very excited to be able to offer his beers this month to our 12-oz club members. Cheers!
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