Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Mikkeller Part 1

It shouldn’t be a surprise that the Mikkeller bar in Copenhagen turned out to be somewhat unconventional. In fact it’s as if they’ve deconstructed the whole tavern paradigm and eliminated every convention that isn’t absolutely central to its function. Not only are there no pool tables, dart boards, pokies or juke boxes, there’s also no soft lighting, gloomy corners, beer memorabilia or just about anything to betray the place’s function. There’s hardly even a sign to warn you you’re walking past the place you’re looking for.

Once inside, if you looked past the small, central bar itself, the rest of the small, slightly-below-street-level venue could be mistaken for an art gallery or hair salon, with white walls and ceiling and pale green floor. It’s also extremely small, with room to squeeze perhaps 40 people in.

The serving area is like a booth with a row of taps along one wall. There’s little else to reveal what’s on sale in the way of food and drink, apart from rows of glassware suspended from the ceiling and a few snack foods, such as sausages and cashew nuts waiting in the corner. In reality there’s an impressive bottle selection but you have to read the menu or be shown to the cool room to know about it.

There are twenty taps with nothing on permanently and around half given over to beers other than those of Mikkeller. When I visited all the guest beers were from other European breweries, including a couple from a brewery called “Evil Twin”, which turns out to be the brewery of Mikkel’s twin brother. But two days later seven beers from Three Floyds would be on, and some day soon there should be some 8 Wired on tap.

Not every beer I had was necessarily great – I definitely did not enjoy the Sorachi Ace Single Hop IPA and the 1000 IBU light (at 4.7% ABV) was pure, uncompensated bitterness. I also had my first ever hoppy witbier, whose net effect was something like a Saison and a dry-hopped version of Saison Dupont.

The highlights may have been a pair of beers from Copenhagen’s Amager Bryghus – the only Danish brewer higher than Mikkeller on ratebeer.com. One was a special coffee-infused version of their Hr. Frederiksen Imperial Stout, brewed to celebrate the Mikkeller bar’s first anniversary. The other was a bottle of the port barrel aged version of the same beer. Incredible stuff, and a good warmup for the over-indulgence in rich beer that would follow the next night.

See http://www.mikkeller.dk/index.php?id=91&bar_id=2&land=1 for a list of what's on tap at the Mikkeller bar at any time.

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