Fuggles was very excited last Saturday, almost beside myself with excitement. I couldn't quite believe that Cask Pub & Kitchen were playing host to my brewing hero - the legend that is Mikkeller. It was clearly a sentiment shared by most others in the pub, judging by the respectful silence that hung in the air while he spoke. It is rare to see Mikkeller on tap in the UK, although most good specialist beer pubs will have a selection of bottles. You certainly won't see 12 Mikkeller beers on one bar again in a hurry.
Mikkel himself is an unassuming and modest type, whose mission in brewing is to keep making better beer, always push the boundaries and try something unusual - an ambition that's hard to fault. What is perhaps most amazing about his modus operandi is that rather than run his own brewery, he 'rents' other people's breweries to produce his stuff of magic. This may mean that no two beers are ever quite the same, but after all he doesn't exist to keep churning out the same beer year after year. Although it seems this spark of genius may be borne less of creativity or financial acumen and more of pragmatism, Mikkel professing to a particular dislike of cleaning his equipment.
What was particularly special about this meet the brewer event was the amazing atmosphere. It was more like being at a house party (but with better booze). Random conversations easily struck up with people at the bar, or the next table along. The sense of excitement in this shared experience, and obviously a proliferation of opinions on the beers providing an easy common denominator.
So onto the beer. I could list them all as great beers, but I'm not here to regurgitate a beer menu to you, so I'll just note my top picks. Faced with the dazzling menu, and realising we couldn't drink it all presented some tough conundrums. It should be noted that the inevitability of trying to drink them all hadn't even occurred to us, we were still quite sensible at this stage.
And finally we come to what may have been our undoing. But was probably just the straw that broke the camel's back (having worked our way up to it through the rest of the menu). The "Black 2011" weighing in at an almighty 17.5% was just too tempting to resist. I've had strong beers before that had little to say for themselves apart from their strength, but this was stunning. Rich, meliflous and terribly naughty. According to the Beer Gremlin, if they served beer in a den of iniquity (which I'm sure they would?), this would be it.
It was great to meet the man behind the beer, and sample so much of his repetoir side by side. Whilst I am eternally grateful to Cask for playing host to my brewing hero, I would just make a small plea that you start serving his beer in thirds...