Mikkeller is the furthest thing from being an ordinary brewery. Since 2006 they have been pushing boundaries with such flavours as oatmeal-coffee, vanilla milkshake, and even a bacon flavoured beer. They have collaborated with brewers across the world and opened flagship bars in Denmark and Singapore. Now, as they opened their 27th bar in Downtown LA, let’s get a taste of one of Europe’s leading brewers.
The creator of Mikkeller, Mikkel Bjergsø, was a teacher before he decided to go full-time with his microbrewery. To perfect his brewing skills, he would spend time with his friend, Kristian Keller, and they would attempt to replicate different IPAs. After a few successful replications, they decided it was time to introduce their home-brewed beer to the public and to “challenge beer friends with intense new tastes”.
The beer they ended up creating was the wonderful Beer Geek Breakfast which tastes of oatmeal and coffee. Don’t underestimate the Beer Geek Breakfast, as it has a high alcohol content (7.5%)! The Beer Geek Breakfast won them several competitions in Denmark and the beverage was becoming popular in the beer community, but the duo didn’t know how to distribute the beer nationally. Luckily for them, beer runs in the Bjergsø family and his brother had several bars that helped distribute the Mikkeller branded beer throughout Denmark.
Despite their early success, tension was brewing at Mikkeller. Their partnership ceased, due to Keller missing his former job as a journalist and also disagreeing with the amount of beers Mikkeller should create. Keller was content with making 5 different beers, but Bjergsø wanted more. His departure from Mikkeller allowed Bjergsø to expand his empire, a bittersweet conclusion to their partnership.
Mikkeller are proponents of a type of brewing known as gypsy brewing. Originally starting in Scandinavia, this is when a brewery doesn’t have a physical location but brews its creations at other breweries. They would end up brewing around the world including Belgium, Denmark, Norway, United Kingdom and the United States. Mikkeller were also heavily influenced by the surging craft beer market in the USA which had been gaining notoriety for breaking the traditional rules of brewing.
Since Keller left the company, Mikkeller has established themselves as one of the best micro-breweries in the world. They’ve worked with craft brewers such as the Danish To Øl and Evil Twin, the American brewer AleSmith, and UK’s very own BrewDog. Beers are getting increasingly fantastical with products like Chipotle Chili Porter which tastes like a mixture of chipotle chilli and beer, Mikkeller Black which is known as “the strongest beer in Scandinavia” with an alcohol content of 15.7%, and Beer of Milk and Honey which consists of lactose, honey, brown sugar and orange peel. Mikkeller on average sell 1.7 million litres of beer a year.
As a challenge for himself, Bjergsø is now creating a new beer every week, at his San Diego Mikkeller venue. Rather than being terrified over the prospect of having to create a new beer every week, this is the type of challenge he lives for. Mikkeller is showing no sign of stopping, having opened several locations around the world, and continuing to spread their brand through various channels. We can’t wait to see what they’ll do next!