In beer circles, Mikkeller is either wildly popular or not even known. It separates beer geeks from those jumping on the craft beer bandwagon. When I visited their first bar in 2012, they were just in the infancy of gaining a cult status.
Just to give you an overview of Mikkeller, you need to start with the man and his story. Mikkel Borg Bjergsø is the mastermind behind the brand. He started as a high school teacher in Denmark who stumbled onto brewing. As it turns out, his mind is fertile for creating unique, experimental beers. He writes down the recipe, gives it to somebody else to make and then waits for the resulst. The irony is that he doesn’t like brewing — it’s boring to him.
That’s not the most interesting part of the story. His twin brother is Jeppe Borg Bjergsø, the founder of Evil Twin Brewing and owner of the great Brooklyn beer bar Tørst. As detailed in a New York Times profile, the two don’t get along and don’t speak to each other.
Mikkel, and his partner Kristian Keller, built their first Mikkeller Bar in the trendy Vesterbro neighborhood. The design is Scandinavian minimalism at it’s finest with white walls, steel stools and wood table tops. At night, most of the light is provided by votive candles and dimly lit Edison light bulbs.
This was my introduction to the classy beer bar where the beer glasses look more like wine glasses. It took a few more years for that style to carry over into America. Case in point, Tørst. Where do you think he got the idea?
Beer wise you have a few titles that have become staples in the Mikkeller catalog like Beer Geek Breakfast, Single Hops and It’s Alive. I remember having the super powerful Black Hole, a 19.1% stout that was aged in Tequila barrels. It was served in a champagne flute. The other than I can’t remember the name was brewed for the Copenhagen Half Marathon to benefit Breast Cancer because that’s what you want after running 13 miles.
Since the opening on their first bar, they’ve opened up bars in Barcelona, Iceland, Thailand, Japan, San Francisco, Oakland, South Korea and their first production facility in San Diego.