Mikkeller Julepakkekalender 2016 (Advent Calendar)
Beer advent calendars appears to be a huge market for breweries and beer suppliers these days. For the uninitiated it is exactly the same as a traditional chocolate advent calendar except the chocolate is replaced with beer. All of the usual suspects had their own variations: Flavourly, Honest Brew, Beerhawk, Ales by Mail, Brewdog and many others.
I was looking into which to get and had to decide between To Øl and Mikkeller. Having visted both earlier this year I knew I was going to get a box full of high quality beers. The only issue being that they cost a pretty penny. With the terrible exchange rate, both boxes cost approximately £115 (roughly £5 a bottle) including delivery. Most of the other advent calendars available from the UK retail for around £70-£90 so that sounds like a lot of money but when you consider many of their beers cost way over £5 then you are making a considerable saving. That's how I justified it anyway.
I settled on the Mikkeller box this year as looking at what both breweries released in their advent calendars last year, I slightly preferred Mikkeller's range. It wasn't long until the box turned up and December 1st rolled around.
The presentation of the box itself was a little lacking. Presented in a standard cardboard box, the only thing to differentiate this from a regular online beer delivery was the advent card laid across the top of the bottles. But really, who gives a shit what the box looks like, surely what's inside is the most important thing?
It's an advent calendar so it's to be expected that there will be some Christmas beers here. It's a style that's often looked down on as traditionally it results in unimaginative beers spiced with stereotypical Christmas flavours such as cinnamon and nutmeg and called things like Santa's Ale or Winter Warmer. I was hoping that Mikkeller's Christmas beers would subvert the trope. Let's find out...
What follows is a list of the beer in the calendar (plus a mini review of each one).
Hoppy Lovin' Christmas
So, you know that thing I was talking about? About Christmas beer being tired and formulaic? Mikkeller obviously read my mind and delivered something fresh and new - an IPA brewed with ginger and pine needles! I've never had a beer with pine needles in before so this was different. I can't say I could taste them too much but could smell them. The ginger was the big flavour here which worked really well in a pale ale. Warming! Enjoyable.
Hands down the bitterest beer I've ever tasted. A proper palate destroyer. I was expecting it to be bitter because of the name but it was almost too bitter to the point of not being very enjoyable. Different.
Wow. A 16.1% Imperial Stout. Drinking this felt like being punched in the face (in the best possible way). Mid-way through, I started slurring my words and got very light-headed. Definitely not for the faint hearted. Massive.
Nuclear Hop Assault
Didn't leave my gums with a fluorescent green glow but put a smile on my face. Mikkeller do hoppy IPA's better than almost every other brewery so this was always going to be great. Hoptastic.
Stick in the Ear
I had this one earlier in the year in Copenhagen at Mikkeller & Friends. It's as good as I remember. Apparently 'stick in the ear' is Danish slang for 'getting drunk'. So you can get stick in the ear with a Stick In The Ear. Sticky.
Another Christmas beer. Although, a Christmas gluten free beer! This was good. It had a big head on it. Foamy.
No Cow on the Ice
I was expecting this to be a milk stout with a cow in the name of the beer. It was pretty much the opposite - an IPA with a slightly sour finish. Very light and very drinkable. Refreshing.
This is the stuff. Despite the pretty bland name this is anything but - up there as one of the best porters I've ever had. Full-bodied, rich and slightly smoky. Decadent.
Deception Session IPA
A Session IPA. Does what it says on the tin (or bit of card). Decent.
Beer Geek Breakfast
Oh yes! Huge stout. Wouldn't advise having this for breakfast but there are some massive coffee notes in this - nice bitter coffee finish. Big.
I Shall Call This Piece... Lager!
First time I've ever had a lager by Mikkeller. I like a lager now and then but this is pretty middle of the road. Lagery.
Red & White Christmas
A red ale combined with a wit bier? Both styles are not massive favourites of mine but mix the two together and you get a pretty decent beer. Mixed.
I've never heard of Faro beer before - for the lazy, it's essentially a lambic beer with brown sugar added to it to make it less sour and a bit sweeter. I was quite surprised by how much I enjoyed this and how drinkable it was. Tasted a bit cider-esque. Different.
Crooked Moon Tattoo
Yes! A fantastic DIPA. Great beer label too designed by actual tattooists! This was amazingly refreshing and very drinkable. Juicy.
Ramen to Bíiru
First can of the box. Brewed specifically for Mikkeller's Ramen to Bíiru restaurant. This Belgian light ale was ok. It was quite foamy and took a while to settle. Belgique.
Drink'In Berliner Passionfruit
I had this beer after my work Christmas party so details are vague. I do remember it wasn't overly sour and at 2.7% is the lowest ABV in the box. Fruity.
This was great. A Belgian Tripel. Tasted of banana and packed a punch. A+.
Surprisingly not that ginger came through in this beer despite the name but it was spicy and hoppy from the brett hops. Also, did not taste like it was 6.9%. Spiced.
Second can. Collab with 18th Street Brewery. A fantastic DIPA packed with big juicy grapefruit flavours and a great bitter finish. Yes!
Bell's Expedition Stout
Not actually a Mikkeller beer on Day 20! However, my minor alarm was short-lived when I realised it was this fantastic Imperial Stout from Bell's Brewery. Perfect beer for sipping in the winter. Rich.
I had this back in June in Copenhagen at BRUS but only a 1/3 pint. This is massive - slight sourness but the trippel style takes the edge off somewhat. Pruney.
This was definitely dry and taste way stronger than 4.1%. Probably a little too dry for me but a good stout nonetheless. Dry.
As someone that's not a huge sour beer fan, I struggled with a full bottle of this. I let my Dad try some, he told me it was the worst beer he's ever had and wouldn't have another sip even if I paid him. If only I filmed his reaction. Sour.
Recipe 100 BA Chardonnay
What a beer to finish on. A beer barrel aged in Chardonnay barrels for 1000 days is the perfect way to round of this box. I had this with my Christmas Day lunch and it went down perfectly. Obviously big wine flavours in this. Lovely, refreshing and light. Winey.
So there you have it, all 24 beers from Mikkeller's 2016 beer advent calendar. On reflection, I'm very happy I decided to get this box as it delivered some absolutely massive beers and there weren't any I completely despised. Great stuff.
Favourite beers: Black, Porter, Beer Geek Breakfast, Crooked Moon Tattoo, Grapefruit Dead, Bell's Expedition Stout, Recipe 100 BA Chardonnay