Beer in Copenhagen: Mikkeller Bar
If you’re reading this blog at all, I assume you’ve heard of Mikkeller, the Danish microbrewery which has since 2006 been producing a vast range of innovative beers in a range of styles, inspired by and building on the work of the most interesting American craft breweries. I also assume you know that Mikkeller does not have a brewery of its own, but produces its beers at other breweries in Denmark and beyond.
I further assume that, knowing this, and having tried Mikkeller beers, you would already be excited to go to the small, stylish Mikkeller Bar in Copenhagen. So, what with you being so well-informed, I’ll just make a few observations on it, why you should go, and why we visited three times when we were in Denmark:
- It’s beautifully designed, as you can see from the pictures on Mikkeller’s new website. It’s clean and minimalist, but also stylish and quirky. The high tables look like drawers and the furniture makes the best use of the space.
- It’s a small bar with good music at an appropriate level, which makes it feel cozy (hyggelig?), where the light colour scheme and bare design might otherwise make it feel cold.
- They have the type of snacks that can be dealt with by a single member of staff, so nothing hot. However the porter sausage is superb.
- There’s free wifi, which seems designed to allow you to send tweets to provoke jealousy.
- It’s on Viktoriagade, not too far from Copenhagen Central Station (København H) and is in the trendy Vesterbro area. Vesterbro seems to be one of those post-industrial up-and-coming areas has quite a few good bars and restaurants (on which more in a later post), although bear in mind that this sits alongside a (not unusually unpleasant) red light district, particularly on Istedgade.
And then, of course, there are the beers. There are 20 taps with a fairly wide range of styles of beer beyond just Mikkeller, including a number of Danish breweries. Most people seem to enjoy the beers in the smallest, 0.2l measures, in dinky stem glasses.
On keg we enjoyed:
- Mikkeller G’Day Mate APA, a nice fresh fruity pale ale with hints of grapeskins and apples;
- Heretic Evil Cousin IIPA, an excellent fresh slightly sweet IIPA with a building bitterness;
- Triple Rock Pacific Gem Single Hop, which had a slightly wateriness and a sweet almost Belgian taste;
- Hill Farmstead Genealogy, a powerful imperial stout from Vermont with a dark espresso foam head which nonetheless had a lot of fresh American hop flavour lifting it;
- De Dolle Bos Keun, this year’s version of the hoppy Belgian Easter pale ale;
- Mikkeller It’s Alight, a refreshing if slightly watery session strength version of Mikkeller’s Orvalalike It’s Alive, which had a little lemony sharpnes on the finish;
- Mikkeller 1000 IBU, which despite its fearsome reputation was an enjoyable big sweet malt and hop bonanza not unlike Stone Double Bastard;
- Mikkeller Big Worse, simply a good, bitter US-style barleywine; and
- Mikkeller K:RELK, a pale ale with limes and orange on the nose but a relatively restrained flavour.
The bottle menu is pretty astonishing, and we also enjoyed a 2007 Orval, in which the leatheryness was cut through with a pleasant gueuze-like citrus sharpness. Following the wine-aged beers we had tried with Garrett Oliver, we also decided to buy a bottle of Hill Farmstead Flora, a wine barrel-aged version of their 5% wheat saison. This was a wonderful, refreshing and refined drink, with all the charms of a Saison Dupont but rounded off with a little white wine.
If I were given to hyperbole, I might say that Mikkeller Bar is the craft beer equivalent of Copenhagen’s famous Noma restaurant. I will say, though, that if it were a restaurant it would similarly merit three Michelin stars: “exceptional… worth a special journey“. Or two special journeys, or even three.