I’m aiming for a broader write up later, but I wanted to put together my short list of the Top 10 beers from the Mikkeller Beer Celebration. These are in no particular order but were all obvious 4.75/5’s on Untappd, if you enjoy that scoring methodology.
Angry Chair – Barrel Aged Imperial German Chocolate Cake Stout
Bokkereyder – Perzik
Bokkereyder – Kriek Saison
Omnipollo – Barrel Aged Extra Maple Lorelei
Mikkeller – Spontanpentablueberry
Bokkereyder – &
Mikkeller – Barrel Aged Beer Geek Vanilla Maple Shake
Bokkereyder – Framboos Cognac
The Veil – Never Never Forever Forever
Voodoo – Old Forester Black Magick
Non Beer Honorable Mentions
Bokkereyder – Wine Meets Lambic
Superstition – Berry White Grand Cru
Superstition – Berry White Grand Cru aged in Fundamenal Observation Barrels
I took a big euro trip last year. I only planned it about 6 weeks in advance. Part of the impetus for the start of the trip was Cantillon Quintessence, followed by CBC the next week in Copenhagen. After minimal research I decided I had to go.
Buying a Pink-all sessions ticket was fairly easy. They never sold out, although individual sessions do. The event takes place in this cool old market building that’s near Kødbyen, literally Cod-buying, what was the old fish market or colloquially similar to the resurgence that meat packing districts have had near US urban centers.
As you can see, it’s a fantastic venue that allows an abundance of natural light. Last year the event was full, but not packed. This venue is also in very desirable proximity to Warpigs and Mikkeller Bar Viktoriagade.
One other added thing I enjoyed about this event was the bathroom layout. In addition to the less desirable port-a-pottys, they also have these outdoor urinal walls for the men. There isn’t really anything like it at festivals of any kind in the USA. What it means is, instead of 1 port-a-potty, they have this space with 4 urinals instead. It’s brutally efficient, and is an underrated touch compared to events you’ve been to with 10-20 minute bathroom lines. With this system, there is generally no wait to do your business and get back inside to slug Angry Chair Stouts.
In general, you don’t have to wait more then 4 or 5 people for a pour of anything. Last year some breweries like Hill Farmstead and Three Floyds did develop long, substantial lines. The longest of which was when Dwarven Power Bottom was tapped by Three Floyds. The line probably got at least 60 people deep and no more than 15 minutes and people were fairly good about jumping out of line to get refills from brewery stands along the way.
In general, what I loved most about the CBC is that because there is great beer everywhere, there’s very few lines anywhere. This meant incredible meads from Superstition with no lines. This meant waiting for 1 or 2 people to get Westly. Broken Truck poured for hours. Incredible Omnipollo stouts lasted quite a while, and of course they had their beer soft-serve machines going. Tasty selections from Side Project, Perennial, Bruery, Tired Hands, Buxton, Cloudwater, and a slew of 100 more breweries made it an incredible event, that felt devoid of some of the bullshit I find myself hating about many American beer fests. If you’ve been to Shelton Fest, a lot of the same breweries from there will be present.
There aren’t a ton of food options inside the event. There was a snack table with various packaged snacks, but what you’ll be most drawn to is John’s Hot Dogs. John’s of Copenhagen has the love of the locals in the same vein Hot Dougs does to Chicagoans. The encased meats on their own are fairly standard, but big, meaty dogs. The cool part is last year there were around 20-30 unique toppings you could add yourself, and all of them were made with beer from brewery attendees.
The festival has four 4-hour sessions taking place over 2 days. If you intend to take part in all of it, you’re drinking essentially 16 hours out of 34 hours. It’s intense if you want to make the most of it, but incredibly memorable as long as you approach it right. Certainly plenty of water during each session, food as you go, a real meal between sessions, and plenty of sleep between Day 1 and Day 2. Careful about layering on additional beer events and tap takeovers on Friday and Saturday night after the festival. It can be done, but may result in you Facetiming your friends and family while drunkenly making Danish Pizzaburgers at your Airbnb.
Edit: Now that Three Floyds has entirely randomized which variant you’ll receive, the “Predicted Sell Out Order” section below is no longer relevant.
Copious amounts of applause to the Floyds for making the intrepid decision to finally move Dark Lord Day back in the calendar 2 weeks, after 3 straight years of cold, blustery weather at best, and oceanic squall conditions at worst. Though I’ve enjoyed going to the last 3, I’ll be missing it, while at the Mikkeller Beer Celebration in Copenhagen.
This year, I’ve got no skin in the variant fight. I know some people are angered at the replacement of a barrel aged variant with 2 bottles of vintage Lord. If I had tickets, that would make me a bit salty as well. Upon learning all variants will be portioned out equally through all sessions, that throws an enormous snag in the wheel. That certainly speaks to how Group A tickets were announced 7 hours before they went on sale (versus the usual 2-3 hours or less) and they still took until after 4:00pm to sell out, on a Saturday no less.
That to me speaks to the rebuke of the new policy by locals. My first Dark Lord Day in 2014, in-person tickets went on sale at 8:00am, on a Saturday and were sold out by 10ish.
Since I’m not Dark Lording this year, I decided to power rank the variants both in expected quality/taste/value, and how quickly each will sell out.
Predicted Best Variants
Marshmallow Handjee — Bourbon barrel aged Dark Lord with vanilla beans
Ronaldo — Dark Lord aged in Muscat barrels with tart Michigan cherries
Bourbon barrel-aged Dark Lord — Dark Lord aged in bourbon barrels
ChemTrailMix — Dark Lord aged in bourbon barrels with cinnamon and pink peppercorns
French Vanilla Militia — Dark Lord Aged in Muscat Barrels with Vanilla, Cocoa Nibs and Coffee
Dark Lord De Muerte — Dark Lord aged in bourbon barrels with guajillo peppers
Dia Oscuro — Dark Lord aged in ardbeg barrels
Predicted Sell Out Order
French Vanilla Militia
Bourbon barrel-aged Dark Lord
Dark Lord De Muerte
Make no mistake, I think moscato barrels are a bad choice for FVM. Remember how 4 years ago they sold Moscatel Dark Lord at Dark Lord Day, and it was such a sweet mess that they still had a few hundred bottles to sell just before the NEXT Dark Lord Day?
It is possible for Muscat to work, as Sicario Pina came out like a tasty Dole pineapple candy journey, but with the brutal sugars of Dark Lord, the sweetness piles on too strongly. I loved FVM last year, but add the grapey sweetness of moscato and I don’t think it will play well with the vanilla espresso qualities. I expect this will sell out 2nd on hype alone, but definitely not be the silver medalist variant.
Ronaldo on the other hand could potentially work, if the cherries are as tart as advertised. I recently had that Goose Island Raspberry Port one off they sold in the tap room. At this point you may remember Port Dark Lord. Another boondoggle in the sickeningly sweet scorched earth history of the Lord. Port Raspberry Bourbon County worked well in this case due to the tartness of the raspberries balancing out the sweetness of the port barrels. Same thing here, hopefully.
ChemTrailMix would seem to me to be the biggest risk/reward bottle this year. As long as the peppercorns aren’t entirely off putting, this could sneak on to the medal stand. It could just as easily join Temeculan 3000 in the bottom of the worst variants
De Muerte last year was the best of the Muerte variants I’ve had so far. They achieved perfect balance of sweet and heat without the vegetal qualities that have plagued pepper beers, and previous Dark Lord De Muerte’s, specifically.
Bourbon Dark Lord is perpetually underrated. There’s nothing more to say.
I’m morbidly curious in Ardbeg Dark Lord, not unlike I was with last years Temeculan Andre 3000. Scotch whisky barrels so rarely work well with big stouts, but putting the Lord in one of the more peaty brands is a non-starter for me.
Enjoy the day, kids. Remember, you can’t drink enough water, but if you have the choice, the BA Water is best.
Last Saturday we gathered 12 tasters together to do our groups first blind bottle share.
The theme we decided on and prepared for several weeks was a Fruitless Geuze/Lambic/American Wild Ale. We collectively amassed 27 bottles for the event. The rules were pretty straight forward.
Should be geuze, lambic or American Wild Ale, preference to non-kettle sours
Avoid saisons, flanders, oud bruins, goses, and berliners
No fruit or adjuncts aside from the spontaneous or purposely added bugs
Each submission should be at least 750ml. You may choose to submit 2x 375s of the same beer instead
In the end a $13 shelfie, Cuvee Rene with 4 years of age, won it. Old Cable Car also lived up to the hype.
Lindeman’s Cuvee Rene Special Blend, long appreciated among lambic friends that shared bottles with me years ago finished 3rd and Off Color Whiskers somehow found its way into 4th.
Biggest surprise was Lou Pepe Gueuze ’09 sticker finishing 25th out of 27 bottles.
I think it’s very exciting that most shelf lambic in the blind tasting landed in the middle of the pack (exception being Boon Mariage Parfait.) It shows you don’t necessarily need to endure a long line up at Jester King, or trade for the green bottled flavor of the week to get great spontaneous beer. The sheer fact that so many Loons and Drie finished in the top 1/3 of the field does reinforce that some beers are worth the effort to obtain
Facts and Observations
Total corks that hit the ceiling: 3
All bottles were uncorked, decanted into pitchers and poured by a non-rating member of the group
Still lambic did not fair well. I would have liked to see if 3F Doesjel would have done any better
Upland Forest finishing in the top 10 was a big surprise, because isn’t shitting on Upland still in?
People have been fairly down on DDG lately, but it still showed up strong
All tasters did not necesarily follow the same method for scoring. While most tickers scored as they would on Untappd, at least one taster scored 0-5 based on its strength against the field. This was something we realized halfway through. For consistency, we decided to continue scoring the same way for the rest of the event.