When it comes to breweries, the trend these days is to ensure an established core range of about four or five beers. A lager or pilsner, pale ale, wheat beer, IPA and stout or porter tend to do the job on most occasions. Hell, Little Creatures don’t even have that many. Admittedly their trio of a pale ale, bright ale and a mid-strength amber ale are blatantly brilliant beers. Hoewver, even they eventually became bored with the status quo and from such boredom emerged the delights of their seasonal Single Batch releases. (Speaking of which, they just released their new one. Best to track it down post haste).
Some breweries – like Carlton & United – exist mainly off one or two market-tested, money-making beers. Of course I’m speaking of Carlton Draught and Carlton Dry. (I am aware you can buy Carlton Natural, Carlton Cold, Carlton Mid, Carlton Fusion and Carlton Black but let’s be honest – there’s not a massive amount of variety happening is there?) This isn’t necessarily a bad thing either. They make a fortune based on what they do well, and I’d say if you quizzed them they’d just point to their profits and laugh.
Conversely, a not-so-brief jaunt to Northern Europe sees a genuine explosion of beer. Operating out of Copenhagen in dandy Denmark are the boys from Mikkeller.
Taking a slightly different tack to the whole brewing process, Mikkel Borg Bjergso and Kristian Klarup Keller (the brains behind the Mikkeller, and two of the best-named brewers going around) upped the ante on the rest of the world.
Put simply, in 2010 they released 76 new beers. Just take a second to think about that. No seriously,reallythink about it. That’s – for the mathematically-challenged – a new beer for every 4.8 days of the year. And Mikkeller’s only been around since 2006.
Ignoring to an absurd degree the mantra of first establishing yourself in the beer market with a number of ‘core beers’ and then experimenting, there are currently 146 beers listed on Beeradvocate which have reviews. And there’s another 59 ‘retired’ beers in the archives.
Examining the nature of such beers in list format alone is an adventure. To aid you in your travels though, I’ll focus on some of the basics behind their beers.
When it comes to Mikkeller, the daring Danes exude a unique style. They look lagers in the eye, calmly gauge their measure, and then deliver the beer equivalent of a roundhouse kick, Case in point: They have a ‘hop series’ of beers, make pale ales and IPAs with different hop types. At last count they had put out 19 of these. Nineteen. I can’t even name 19 hop varieties.
One Mikkeller beer in particular deserves to be the focus. The Mikkeller Beer Geek Brunch (Weasel).
Quick factoid: The most expensive coffee in the world is made from the droppings of the civet weasel, a small Asian rodent that gets its kicks from eating coffee berries only when they are at their ripest and plumpest. (Yep, coffee beans come from berries. Who knew?) Of course, the beans take their ‘natural course’ through the weasel and come out the other end to be collected and sold.
Mikkeller then takes said coffee beans and makes not just a stout (you didn’t seriously think the Danes would be quite that boring did you?) but an imperial oatmeal stout. And they then decided that itself was still too blase, making versions of the beer aged in bourbon, cognac, calvados (allegedly calvados is a French apple-brandy), and whisky barrels.
Of course, for all this mind-boggling, magnificent-tasting beer there has to be a drawback. Unfortunately it’s quite a significant one too. The price is somewhat prohibitive (Blame Australia’s tax laws).
However don’t let this scare you. All you need to do is look at it from the following persepctive. Yes, it might cost $35, but how often do you drink beer made with something that came out of the back-end of a weasel. Think about it……