11 December 2018

How we got to Mikkeller World

Yesterday's post concerned the inescapable ubiquity of Mikkeller on Copenhagen's beer scene. The company gets at you before you're even on the ground, if you're flying SAS at least. Last year I reported on the beer they'd produced in collaboration with the airline, and I was pleased to see a new edition on the inflight menu this time round. Northern Trails No. 2 is still a 6.6% ABV IPA, but hazy this time. It smells very New England right from the pop of the pulltab: juicy stonefruit and sweet vanilla. The texture is appropriately fluffy. Apricot is the flavour it wears up front but the inclusion of Nelson Sauvin gives it a drier white grape quality too. There's the bitter dank of Simcoe and Citra and a pinch, but only a pinch, of Mosaic's caraway. Overall this is a jolly decent take on the hazy style. The yeast doesn't interfere, the hops are on point, and the inclusion of Nelson adds an extra bit of character that distinguishes it from its peers.

And you don't have to travel far beyond the arrivals gate to find yet more Mikkeller. A compact little bar on the concourse serves a vast range of their beers, offering takeaway cans too, which is a nice touch. As is the selection of airport exclusives. While awaiting our flight home I picked Airport Spontanale, unsurprisingly. 6.5% ABV, it looked like a lambic, smelled like a lambic and almost tasted like a lambic. Alongside the bricky mineral sourness there was an off-kilter vanilla note; a slick sweetness, like diacetyl. That added a smudge to the otherwise clean flavour and I couldn't help but try and taste around it. The beer wasn't ruined by any means, but it wasn't enhanced by whatever it was either.

The bar also serves Mikkeller Airport Brown Ale. This one had a lovely Christmassy aroma: nutmeg and allspice on a sweet bready base. The spice intensifies as it goes, becoming almost like aftershave, before the whole thing finishes on an unexpected metallic bitterness. There's a lot crammed in to this 5% ABV package, and it requires a bit of getting used to, but it's a lot of fun to take time over. Not one to order if your gate has been called.

Ours hadn't, and we decided to try one of the other bars in the very well-catered-for shopping area. The Bird specialises in beers from Kissmeyer, one of Royal Unibroue's craftish subsidiaries. I went with Into the Black, a big black IPA of 7% ABV. As is often the case, it's a deep brown shade instead of true black, and coming with that is a sweet hit of milk chocolate. This segues instantly into an acrid burning finish, without passing through any pleasant hop flavours on the way. I expected better of this but them's the breaks.

John's choice was a double IPA called Stockholm Syndrome. It was another quite harsh one, brimming with pith, rind, and an even more severe perfume taste. A rising orange juice element does soften it a little in the aftertaste, but too little too late for my liking. Both of these just needed an added mellowness brewed into them. Bitterer isn't betterer.

We resume our brief journey through Nørrebro next, where yesterday we'd just left Koelschip, already late for our appointment. But we made time to drop in to Ølsnedkeren -- "beer carpenter" -- for a quick one. It's a brewpub (I think, though I didn't see any equipment) and only serves its own beers. I was intrigued by the White Barley Wine on the menu and it proved an excellent choice. It looked like a pale ale, being a hazy orange colour, but in all other aspects it's exactly like a top-notch barley wine. It's 10.7% ABV and the aroma is warm toffee spiced delicately with hops. A flavour full of rich caramel and fudge follows, smooth and warming and tasting decadently dark. It never gets too sweet or too hot, remaining in perfect balance throughout. Rarely do gimmick beers show such classical calibre.

In the taller glass beside it is Regnsæson, "rainy season", a saison. This is a big beast, 7.4% ABV and dry-hopped with Cascade. I wasn't a fan of the