Mikkeller - Keeper
- ABV: 5.0%
- Serving Temperature: 40-45° F
- Suggested Glassware: Pilsner Glass
Pouring a bright golden hue with good clarity and a dense head which laces as it drops to a persistent collar, Keeper is an inviting looking brew. The invitation got stronger as we lowered our nose to the glass. Described by Mikkeller as an American Pilsner, you’d be forgiven for imagining one of the flaccid brews our country’s big brewers like to style as “pilsners.” Instead, Keeper is bursting with American hop aromas of citrus and impressions of tropical fruit, bolstered by some herbal, spicy, and grassy notes. The theme continues on the palate where there’s a very pilsner-like underpinning of pale malts but with pithy citric, fruity, floral, and grassy hops delivering considerably more flavor impact and bitterness than a typical German or Czech pils. The moderately firm bitterness keeps the beer dry and lingers in the clean, crisp lager finish. Keeper is built very much in the vein of the increasingly popular IPL style (India Pale Lager), although with perhaps a bit less hop bitterness. American Pilsner sounds like a good label to us. Try pairing this bright brew with pizza or teriyaki chicken with grilled pineapple. 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), who 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, 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 (who later founded Evil Twin Brewing) 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 around the world, 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 and Evil Twin come immediately to mind).
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 beer), and, most frequently, Belgium’s De Proef Brouwerij.
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