Ding Points: 61.50
Pour: 60.00, Nose: 70.00, Palate: 60.00, Mouth: 60.00, Global: 60.00
I ran into a cacophony of new Mikkeller offerings in the store last week, with all kinds of weird, strange and expensive beer on display. I don’t rate Mikkeller much, and their general loud posturing and ferocious, indiscriminate output tends to put me off as well. Add in the fact that the majority of their beer represents crippling bad value, and you could call me a fairly serious skeptic of their work. Here’s what I tweeted last week.
The label here doesn’t offer much information in terms of the style, but the words ‘Open Windows’ had me thinking spontaneous fermentation. ‘Tiger Baby’ had me thinking oriental, floral notes. All of that, coupled with the moth motif, and the fact that mango and passion fruit were involved, had me hoping for a farmhouse/saison type beer with perhaps some floral, sour or funk elements. It was all pointing in that direction, even to the point of opening the beer when a large fruity whiff jumped out of the bottle. Things changed direction as soon as it was poured and when I found out that Open Windows, Open Hills is actually the name of an album by the Danish band, Tiger Baby!
The beer pours a quite dark orange color with some significant haze. A modest, fizzy, light white head. Retention is below average and the lace is thin and unimpressive. What I first think might be a big fruity beer, quickly drops back into a more obvious, straightforward hop affair. I’m disappointed. Essentially this is a slightly dry, American Pale Ale that threatens to be fruity but never pulls it off. In fact, the dry element is stronger down the bottle as we go, and is surprising given the fruit input. Some light citrus and perhaps a touch of tangerine in the finish, but mostly dry. A little earthy.
A little thin body, and not much presence. On the plus side the whole beer never gets intense or demanding, so in that respect I quite like it.
There are a few IPA hop notes that break through from time to time, but this beer never really gets off the ground. It’s an interesting label, an interesting name and has some interesting ingredients; in that respect it’s surprising how uninteresting the beer turns out to be.
$11.99 for the 750 mL bottle is dreadful value, but to be honest that is the one hallmark of Mikkeller that one can pretty consistently rely upon.
Other: 8.0% ABV, American Pale Ale.
Actually, at $11.99 for a 750mL, this represents one of Mikkeller’s most reasonably-priced beers (I’m sure that’s not news to anyone). When they ask $6-7 for one of their 12 oz single-hop IPAs, I have to laugh. The Beer Geek Brunch Weasel, while an excellent beer, comes in the smallest bottle I have ever seen, and it’s $15.
I have to believe that Mikkeller is some sort of experiment being foisted upon the beer “community,” aimed at gauging the market on what beer dorks will pay for products that are known to be all over the map, quality-wise.
The more I think about what you say about Mikkeller, the more sense it makes.
They are currently producing a mind-boggling array of beers via collaboration and other methods, that appear to be following a crazed, indiscriminate buckshot approach, where care, good judgement and discernment have all been largely totally abandoned. The price of their beer is another matter altogether, and I believe is a function of an immature American market that still thinks that everything loud, shiny and new, ‘must be great’. I would be fascinated to find out what proportion of their sales are in the US, and where the majority of their income is generated. Surely folk in more mature beer consumer markets aren’t falling for this stuff, are they??
If I were a Belgian, German or Brit, I’d probably be even less fascinated by Mikkeller than I already am. It’s a good bet that they move more product in the US – overall for sure, per capita is probably up there as well – than anywhere else. Going back to the Beer Geek series…the numerous variants certainly attract those folks who have to “collect them all,” and there is no shortage of folks here who get in line to snap that stuff up in a heartbeat.
There are dozens of home shopping TV channels that illustrate how readily Americans will buy most anything, as long as it’s properly marketed. I don’t see why beer would be excluded from that equation. Pretty labels + the idea of something being a one-off or rare = $.
Still, I have to imagine that Mikkeller does pretty well, seeing as how they (it’s just two guys, right?) don’t have much overhead. Having no brewery to maintain and no employees has to cut down on the expenses. Bully for them, I guess.
My impressions, exactly – I think it’s just a huge scam with gullible beer geeks being ‘had’.
I can’t even try most of their stuff unless it’s on tap. I refuse to pay their bottle prices. They’re not necessarily using a ton of exotic, rare, and expensive ingredients, yet they regularly charge like they do. Now I will grab a bottle of Beer Geek Breakfast and Beer Hop Breakfast. Compared to other American counterparts of the same size, its priced reasonable in comparison. Still expensive, but better than most.
I totally agree about Mikkeller, but this is a trend with all “gypsy” brewers. Here is a recent thread on BeerAdvocate, where Brian Stillwater justifies the prices of his gypsy beers:
That doesn’t do it for me. Maybe they would be cheaper if:
1) He didn’t use 750ml bottles for most of his beers
2) Didn’t distribute to 35 states, despite not having the most volume
3) Didn’t have such ornate label art and packaging
I think the same goes for Mikkeller. Any advanced homebrewer can run around to different breweries and package drinkable beer that “beer geeks” will eat up. It takes a real brewer to master his/her own system, and put out consistently good beer.
“…a cacophony of new Mikkeller offerings…” – The beer made sound? Not the first time I’ve seen “cacophony” misused and sadly won’t be the last.
Also, you bought and reviewed a beer all while not knowing what style it was, merely relying on a guess you made based on the beer’s name? Do you not have an Internet-capable phone you could use in the store to perform a quick Google search? Your tweets have mentioned the craft beer bubble bursting in America soon, but the beer *blogging* bubble will explode sooner with this kind of writing and hapless approach toward beer itself.
I accept your criticism of the use of cacophony, but as you acknowledge, it is common to use the word in this manner.
I think you may want to sharpen your reading comprehension skills. I was not critical of the beer based upon thinking it was one style and finding it was another (I simply said ‘Open Windows’ conjured up the idea of a certain genre), but rather I thought that is was a classic example of Mikkeller’s exploitation of an immature market. There’s all kinds of stuff that one can get away with in America, that would never fly in other countries that have ingrained, established beer cultures, and Mikkeller have proved adept at pulling the wool over peoples eyes when it comes to quality and value. That’s a reflection on the gullible consumer here in the US, and the faddish nature of beer here.