Tuesday 5 June 2012

The Mikkel Borg Bjergsø / Mikkeller Interview

There are many myths and tales about Mikkel Borg Bjergsø, his name has travelled far and wide and so has his beers. The man is a legend, I myself have heard tales of this character called Mikkeller or Mikkel, and before meeting him I was curious what kind of man he really was! When I saw him at Copenhagen Beer Celebration I decided to go and say hello, at that point I already knew that Mikkel was coming to Stavanger to brew at Lervig, my local brewery. We had a chat and took a picture for my blog. Mikkel is a man that basically make most of his beers at some of my favourite breweries, and has shit loads of connections, he makes things happened, could some of these stories I've heard be all piss and wind? Or is there anything there? Success creates a lot of envy and undoubtedly the Mikkeller brand/name has had a lot of success, but after tasting some of the beers there's no doubt it's well deserved success. So how does a former schoolteacher end up becoming one of the world’s most famous brewers? How does a man that started home brewing less than 10 years ago end up in this position? Mikkel's beers have been brewed in more countries than you can count on your fingers and more breweries than you can count on both your fingers and toes. His company exceeded 26.000.000 Danish kroners last year and has had an annual increase on around 100% yearly. Now this is the same man that stayed up all night making coffee for the first batch of Beer Geek Breakfast just cause they had to make it the same way as they did when they brewed the beer home in the kitchen. That means pot by pot, yeah more than 80 pots of coffee actually, that first night at GourmetBryggeriet back in 2006, that's dedication, and not really that long ago... That's no fucking compromise! 

Coming soon to a bar near you!

But now a few years years later, there's a "brand", a bar, a festival and a story and I think it's best to let Mikkel tell it himself, just like he did at Cardinal's bi-weekly beer club meeting "Mandag i annen", the day before brewing at Lervig. We went through a program of 10 or 11 Mikkeller beers and Mikkel told the story behind every single beer. He told us how he started out, by cloning his favourite beers. He answered questions. And then afterwards he hung out with Mike Murphy head brewer at Lervig and the rest of the beer geeks there till the small hours.

Mikkel at "Mandag i Annen/Mandag i toern!"

The day after this I left work early, I'd already seen pictures of the brewing process on facebook, and knew I had to step on it to be able to catch Mikkel. I came down to Lervig and started preparing for the interview, had to wait a little while, Mikkel wanted to go and buy some candy first. So before starting the interview we all stood outside the brewery admiring the amount of steam coming out of the pipe of the brewery while the beer was boiling. Mikkel was eating and sharing candy and drinking Coke. The beer that was brewing then is a so-called Imperial IPA or a Triple IPA as it's going to be 14% ABV. 15.000 liters was brewed, IBU at almost 100, 120-minute boil, 6-8 weeks fermentation. The recipe is something like 90% Pilsner malt & 10% Oats plus sugar. The hops used are Amarillo, Centennial, Simcoe, Chinook & Ahtanum. That's at least what I heard...

Here are the 25 minute video interview, I recommend you open the files in Youtube and watch in full screen and HD. The interview is divided into two parts.

The same day as I did this interview you just watched this showed up in the local newspaper, (http://www.aftenbladet.no/nyheter/lokalt/stavanger/Mikkeller-vil-brygge-hos-Lervig-i-Stavanger-2980941.html) Mikkel also mentioned this might be a possibility at the Beer Club the night before the brewing. Now it seams production of the BGB series might be moving to Stavanger, to Lervig Aktiebryggeri, a brewery that doesn't use more than a third of their capacity, a brewery that not only is qualified to do the job, but also needs it for economic reasons! I'm crossing my fingers and toes for this, but meanwhile I'm just looking forward to the "Double Eye P.A."...

Mikkel & Mike at Cardinal!

Oh and the conclusion on Mikkel after the way I started this story, he's a cool guy and very talented, don't you go believing anything else! Some of my favourite beers has his name on them!

- Haffy

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