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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

PIB 2008: The New Beers

It's not only the US which has a micro revolution. New breweries are popping up all over the globe, and as with the young American breweries, a lot these have energy and a nice measure of irreverence. Some may be world classics in a few decades, so you can get in on the ground floor now. I have tried only one of these, so I'm running blind here. Caveat Beeror.

Ølfabrikken - Porter (Denmark)
You know what they say, Denmark's the new Portland. Okay, they don't say that, but they could, because this Scandanavian country now has several breweries with serious international juice. Ølfabrikken, which I haven't a clue how to pronounce, is Danish for "The Beer Factory," and it was founded just three years ago. Nevertheless, they have produced dozens of beers. This is their main export, a big Baltic (7.5%) and a delight to those who have tried it.

Mikkeller - Black Hole (Denmark)
You know the story: homebrewers turn pro, found a brewery, start winning awards, and pretty soon they set Copenhagen ablaze. Okay, you know a variant of the story. What's remarkable about this brewery is that it appears to have taken its cues from the US, with beers named Jackie Brown and Santa's Little Helper. That means that our beers, inspired by Europe, are now impressive enough to be inspiring a whole new generation of brewers ... in Europe. In any case, Mikkeller has a vibe that certainly would not be out of place on North Mississippi or SE Belmont. This imperial stout was brewed with flaked oats, dark cassanade, honey, coffee, and vanilla. The brewers describe it (with a nod to Stone?) as "vulgar and extreme." Sounds like my kind of beer.

The Bogedal - No.103 (Denmark)
Our final entrant into my Denmark picks (there are other Danish beers, if you want to keep working on the theme) comes from the country's only all-gravity brewery. That's old-school ... like medieval old. As the brewer puts it, the "beer runs from cask to cask by help of pulleys and level differentiation… without the use of pumps." I don't really know what this beer's going to be like because the translation is a bit iffy. It may something like a Oud Bruin, or maybe not. The brewery says it goes well with venison, however, so you got that goin for you.

De La Senne - Taras Boulba ("Smeirlap!") (Belgium)
I reviewed this beer recently, but it bears mentioning again. A wonderfully complex and surprisingly low-alcohol beer (4.5%--a friend to you at this high-alcohol event). Full review here.

Picobrouwerij Alvinne - Melchior (Belgium)
This is an 11% barleywine made with mustard seeds. I need no further invitation, but in case you do, I offer this description from their webpage, run through the Google translator: " The Melchior is the heaviest descendant of our brewery. This Barley wine is one to be cautious taste. It is a complex beer with a spicy nose, malty and heavy gehopt. It has a solid body and is a bitter aftertaste." One thing I do like is a heavy gehopt. Founded in 2004.

Baird - Temple Garden Yuzu Ale (Japan)
Bryan Baird is an American who founded his brewpub in Numazu, Japan, exporting a little bit of Beervana-style brewing east. Turns out he was living in Japan and decided he'd like to open a brewery there, so he came back to the US, learned to brew at Redhook, and then opened Baird's in 2000. His model? "The brewery-pub outfit that I admire most, though, unquestionably is McMenamins." This particular beer is a little hard to resist: it's brewed with Japanese lemons (yuzu) harvested from the garden of a nearby Buddhist temple. It's a wheat beer and the "aromatics stem entirely from late kettle additions of Yuzu peels." Wow.

Brasserie Dieu du Ciel! - Peche Mortel (Canada)
Don't be fooled, as I was, by the "peche" in the title--it doesn't mean "peach." Péché Mortel means "mortal sin," and this is a cult favorite that may one day become a world standard. Dieu du Ciel started as a brewpubin Montrèal ten years ago, and has only recently started bottling. The untrained brewer, Jean-François, has also achieved a kind of fame that reminds me of Craig Nicholls'. This is their flagship beer, an imperial stout. (Dieu du Ciel, incidentally, means God in heaven!--an exclamation of pubgoers, one imagines, after they've committed themselves to a Mortal Sin.)

Are you getting excited for this fest?--man, I am.

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