Thursday, April 23, 2009

Mikkeller is a phantom brewery. I'm scared.

This brewery doesn't exist.
Well, clearly Mikkeller exists. I'm drinking the beer after all. But when I went to find the Danish microbrewery, all I found was a tiny apartment on a tiny street. No mash tun, no bottling line and definitely no brewery.
As I was getting ready for my trip to Copenhagen, I stuck Mikkeller on my list of places to visit. The beer has garnered a lot of positive attention during the past few years and I figured it would be an interesting contract to the Carlsberg tour I also had on my schedule. Besides, I'd discovered that Mikkeller was in the very shadow of the mega brewery.
Yeah, there's no brewery in Carlsberg's shadow. Just elephants that hate Jews.

I was explaining my trouble finding Mikkeller to my new friends at Den Tatoverede Enke, one of the few bars in Copenhagen that doesn't pour Carlsberg, when it was explained to me that I never had a chance.
"It's a phantom brewery."
Mikkeller is run solely by self-described gypsy-brewer Mikkel Borg Bjergsø. Rather than maintain a permanent location, Bjergsø rents space around Denmark, Europe and the U.S. ... and periodically shuffles on to a new location. He also partners with a number of craft breweries, including Three Floyds, De Struise Brouwers and Stone, for specialty collaboration beers.
This is all well and good. Interesting, in fact. But consider that this dude produces more than a dozen beers in multiple countries and continents. That's amazing. Imagine how productive this guy could be if he'd stay in one place.
And Bjergsø isn't just displaying a feat of productivity that's clearly of a higher order, he's brewing award winning beer. Although these beers aren't widely available, I was able to pick up a couple at The Wine Specialist. The Stateside IPA is delicious, hoppy without too much of a bite, rich without being too sweet. Santa's Little Helper 2008 is a fantastically made Christmas ale that's just as good in April as it is in December.
The woman at Den Tatoverede Enke said Bjergsø rents space to avoid paying business taxes. I don't know whether that's true or not. Maybe all the wandering keeps Bjergsø's creative juices flowing. Maybe without a staff and plant to look after, Bjergsø can focus on his beer. Who knows? Who cares?
The guy's making quality beer. He's just not offering tours.

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