"A lot of cool fun and crazy beers" are main components of Mikkel Borg Bjergsø's mission in San Diego.
Danish brewing company Mikkeller made its long-anticipated Miramar debut the weekend of April 15th. While new breweries tend to open in San Diego with every gibbous moon, they usually aren't started by a European craft brewer who already has a global following.
Mikkel Borg Bjergsø
Mikkel Borg Bjergsø has brewed hundreds of Mikkeller beers at breweries around the planet but never owned one until now. So, he made the occasion a celebration of great beer. Saturday's grand opening featured special brews from some of this country's most esteemed craft producers, including several never found on tap in San Diego, such as Indiana's Three Floyds, Iowa's Toppling Goliath, and Vermont's Hill Farmstead.
The weekend also brought the release of more than 20 Mikkeller beers brewed at Mikkeller San Diego, the brewhouse on Cabot Street formerly occupied by AleSmith, referred to by Mikkeller COO Jacob Alsing as "The holy grail of craft beer." The menu featured several Belgian beer styles, two takes on a hopped pilsner, a Berliner wiesse, lots of IPAs, and the Ny Veerden olde ale, also issued as a bottle release.
The best-received beers included the California Dream hoppy pilsner with barely a hint of blood orange; a Brett IPA with light funky pineapple notes and clean finish; and both the Session and Waves IPAs. Also praised were variations of Mikkeller's famed Beer Geek Breakfast.
During a Sunday-morning tasting of these variations, Bjergsø described Beer Geek as "The beer that kind of made the whole thing start. The beer that got me from a completely unknown homebrewer ten years ago to having a brewery now."
Variants of the oatmeal coffee stout included one made with double coffee, the Brunch Weasel imperial stout, the smoked grain Rauch Geek Breakfast, and a barrel-aged version. Brunch Weasel was originally brewed with and named for the coffee beans culled from civet poop, but this take was made using coffee roasted at home by Mikkeller San Diego head brewer Bill Batten and his wife. Other versions used beans provided by East Village roaster Dark Horse Coffee.
Each one served tasted more or less exceptional, and to this Bjergsø gave credit to his partner in the new brewery, AleSmith owner Peter Zien.
Bjergsø said that while developing the Beer Geek recipe in the small kitchen of his Copenhagen apartment years ago, he struggled with the coffee component. So he sent an email to the guy who made Speedway Stout, "The best stout I've tasted in my life."
That would be Zien, who responded with advice that proved helpful, helping Beer Geek Breakfast become an international success and beginning the friendship that resulted in bringing Mikkeller to San Diego.
Bjergsø promised a lot more recipes to come, including German styles, wild ales, and sours. "The purpose here is for the brewers to brew a lot of new stuff," he said, "a lot of cool fun and crazy beers." And since these Mikkeller beers aren't brewed across the Atlantic, they will be both fresh and affordable.