A few years ago, I found myself getting lost in San Francisco with the sole purpose of finding a new bar to hide in. The goal was to get lost for a few hours and waste away the afternoon with new friends. I ended up at Mikkeller Bar, and I was hooked instantly.
Mikkeller is a Danish beer company founded in 2006 by two kitchen brewers. They made an immediate statement with their Beer Geek Breakfast stout, a clean flavorful drop. In 2007, co-founder Kristian Keller departed for a career in journalism (well played!) and the other, Mikkel Borg Bjergsø, took their boutique brand to the next level. Since then, he’s collaborated with some of the best brands and brewers in the world, opened several Mikkeller Bars around the world, and five years ago launched the super-successful Copenhagen Beer Celebration in his hometown. While Mikkeller may be a “contract brewer” by definition and to the chagrin of some, the beers that the company brews, along with Bjergsø’s passion for experimentation, have made both world renowned and that buzz is coming to town.
The folks behind the Boston Calling Music Festival, Crash Line Productions, are bringing Mikkeller and the Copenhagen Beer Celebration to Boston this Sept 23 and 24 on City Hall Plaza. In partnership, Crash Line and Mikkeller/CBC are combining a beer fest with a music festival, producing three different tasting sessions that includes live acts such as Yo La Tengo, Lucero, the Barr Brothers, Mariachi El Bronx, Tigerman WOAH! and much more. The two parties worked together to select the musical lineup, but Mikkeller/CBC curated the brews, which include local brewers Boston Beer Company, Jack’s Abby, and Trillium, and will be joined by a list of more than 50 beers from around the country and the globe. At first glance, and with a current “more to to be added!” note on the website, the selection is worthy and growing, and definitely a fresh take on the usual mix of predictable options from generic local beer festivals.
Check out the website for specific session details and a complete lineup of music and beer, but it’s worth noting that this is not the typical unlimited sampling experience unless you’re willing to pay for it: $125 per session, or $250 for all three with the VIP bracelet. You can also pay $50 per session, or $125 for all three for a General Admission bracelet, but you’ll receive a limited amount of sampling tickets and need to buy more once you run out. In addition to a rotating selection from each session to the next, there will be several limited small-batch options available. It sounds like those with the VIP bracelet will get most of those, however, as that option also allows for early entry 30 minutes before the general admission enters. Thankfully, there will be full-pour stations set up throughout the festival as well, with select offerings in full pints and available to all attending to purchase. Every sampling festival should have this option.
I don’t remember what I drank that day in San Francisco, but I stayed for about four hours and tried quite a few beer flights, sampling from a list of beers that were unfamiliar but almost all fantastic. Several of them were Mikkeller beers, and they all stood out for their unique flavor and character. The Danish have not exactly been leaders in the beer community, and prior to my visit I’m pretty sure I’d never actually had one, but Mikkel has his shit together and along with his personal brews, I’m looking forward to enjoying his curation—again—and trying some exceptional beers that I’m sure I’ve never had before.