Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Belgian Beer Review 9: Struise Mikkeller (Elliot Brew)

Mikkeller, which started as a collaboration between two homebrewers, and is now solely run by Mikkel Borg Bjergsø, is a self-described "gipsy-brewer, who brews at different breweries in Denmark, around Europe and the United States."

His brews garner a lot of attention, and I was fortunate to find a collaboration with a Belgian brewer, which meant I got to include it in this Belgian experiment (despite the fact that Mikkel is himself a Dane). Not only a collaboration, but apparently his first collaboration.

If Belgium and other European countries, are steeped in old brewing traditions, Mikkeller is at the forefront of changing those perceptions. Belgian beers run the gamut of styles, and this one fits into none of the pre-established or expected categories--it's more Belgian than Belgians.

Mikkeller/De Struise Brouwers
Brewery Location: Belgium
Beer: Struise Mikkeller (Elliot Brew)
BJCP Style: 16E. Belgian Specialty Ale
Serving: Bottle

The beer pours a cloudy amber with thin tan head.

The nose starts with huge hops--a mix of citrus and earthy hop spiciness. The underlying malt is caramel, and there is a slight alcohol presence. Hints of pineapple, mango, and Belgian Candi sugars.

Taste: I had been expecting Double IPA hop bomb (and that's how Beer Advocate has categorized it), but this is more subtle, complex. It could be that this is a retired beer, and one that has been aging for a while, so the character may have changed--the hops somewhat subdued (although not much) and the malt coming forward more. As with the nose, there's a sweet citrus upfront, layered upon dark malty sugars, but beyond that, it's hard to describe in absolute terms. In relative terms, think West Coast Pale Ale meets Trappist Dubbel meets Belgian Strong Golden Ale and that gets you somewhere close to this beer.

Mouthfeel: A full-bodied beer--it is thick and sweet without descending into not syrupy or cloying.

Drinkability: This is a fantastic beer, but a bugger of one to describe. I can't chuck this into a given category, thus why it's in the catch-all of Belgian beers--Belgian Specialty. Think of it as a quintessential collaboration--two beers that, when combined, create something larger than the sum of their parts. It's a little cliched, but there's a truth to it with this beer. I'd say go try one yourself, but in researching this beer, realized that it was a retired style that I absentmindedly and accidentally stumbled into.

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