Mikkeller / Anchorage – Invasion Farmhouse IPA

IPAs brewed with brettanomyces are a good example of how beer styles tend to cross-pollinate, so to speak.  It’s not a new thing, but with the huge insurgence of creative brewing going on these days there are now all kinds of combinations such as brett-IPA’s you can get your hands on.

One such example is produced by one of Danish brothers Mikkel and Jeppe, and I hope you can guess which.  The other is the man behind Evil Twin.  That’s a whole lot of amazing beer being produced by these siblings, and more impressive yet is neither one of them actually has a brewery.  They are both “gypsy brewers” who basically just rent space at whatever brewery has the space and the is the right fit for whatever beer’s up next.

This particular Mikkeller brew was produced in Alaska, at Anchorage Brewing Company.  Seems like a bit of an obscure place to go for such a delicate beer, but it is not by chance.  Anchorage has a whole lineup of beers brewed with brettanomyces. It can be said it’s kind of their thing, and I’m confident that they’re pretty damn good at it.

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Anyway, I better get to this beer before I run out of energy. Labelled a “Farmhouse IPA” which alludes to the “wild yeast” nature of the beer.  As an aside, using the term “wild” has kind of become a legacy term – modern “wild ales” are often brewed with store-bought lactobacillus, brettanomyces, and the like just because it’s easier and more predictable.  I guess you could say the flavour is the wild part now.

Appearance: It looks like an IPA for the most part – tangerine orange in colour, though its colour appears almost to be at half-saturation, with kind of a greyness to it.  The head starts out strong but doesn’t last all that long before it’s just a ring.

Smell: It’s a familiar smell, like a saison brett.  The brett character is there but well integrated in with other notes.  Grassy must, earthy, and orange citrus.

Taste: Tangerine skin followed by lemony acidity. Complexity is very good, there is a deep seated mustiness that is gentle enough that it’s additive to the flavour and not the flavour itself. I kind of expected this to taste like I’m used to an IPA tasting like, but with some funky side to it. It’s not really like that though, because the brett is much more integrated into the beer.  It lacks the spice of a saison brett and it has more citrus than one, but otherwise it’s pretty damn similar to a well executed saison brett.  And to me, a well executed example is one that almost has a gueuze-like quality that gives the beer a feeling of age and oak.

Feel: The carbonation is mild and the body is silky.  Quite nice for the style.

Overall: This was a good buy. It wasn’t cheap ($25) but I’m happy I spent it. I’m not sure I’d stock up on it but I’d buy it again.

Mikkeller – Breakfast Stout

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I don’t usually drink beer at 10:30am, but when I do, it’s breakfast stout.  I drank this on my birthday last week in an effort to start the day on the right foot.  Breakfast stout is an oatmeal stout, further fortified with coffee for a wholesome first meal.  Mikkeller is a Danish brewery producing this “imperial” stout – it is 7.5% ABV.  Not particularly strong for a Russian imperial, but unusually high for an oatmeal stout.

I didn’t take tasting notes at the time because hell with it, it was my birthday.  I can tell you this from memory though: first of all, it’s good.  To expand on that as best I can:  this is a classic oatmeal stout: it’s not sweet, and it’s full of oaty heartiness.  Pretty bitter actually.  Add to this though a fairly potent espresso flavour – dark roast.  If you like dark roast coffee with no sugar and cream, this is probably up your alley.  If not, I can’t imagine it would be,  because the coffee flavours are strong, heavily roasted, and bitter.  Fortunately this is just my kind of cup.