Photo by Andrew Dyer
Mikkeller’s next special release beer “Bushels of Haze”
Mikkeller Brewing San Diego’s plan to release a new and unique beer every week in 2017 was and remains an ambitious one. The first release, a raspberry-and-coffee Berliner weisse, called “Fruitface,” was an unlikely hit. The Miramar-based, Danish-owned brewery has been cranking out a wide range of interesting beers since, mostly focusing on hazy IPAs and pale ales.
So it was a bit of a shock when head brewer Bill Batten announced his resignation on March 10, citing differences in “creative vision” with founder and majority owner Mikkel Borg Bjergsø. From the outside, it appeared things were picking up for Mikkeller SD. After all, the beers were good, and their special releases were popular. West Coaster’s reader poll named it “Best New Brewery” in town. Would Batten’s departure affect the brewery’s ambitious release schedule?
Not according to Bjergsø. In fact, Bjergsø says he’s confident that the team at Mikkeller SD is ready to keep things moving forward, and that he is not looking to replace Batten.
“I honestly don’t think we need a new head guy from outside,” Bjergsø says. “We have excellent brewers who are extremely capable. The beers they’ve done lately have turned out really well.”
Bjergsø said the weekly releases are scheduled about four months out, but that it’s flexible. He is constantly coming up with new ideas and sending them in.
“At the moment it’s not difficult to come up with a new idea every week—it’s difficult not to come up with more,” he says. “We’ve done double releases and will continue to do more.”
The special release schedule at Mikkeller SD has featured a lot of hazy, “NE style” IPAs and pale ales, which have exploded in popularity. This was a noticeable change in focus for the Miramar brewery.
“When we started in 2016, we got into doing what you do in San Diego,” Bjergsø says, referring to west coast IPAs. “I didn’t buy a brewery in San Diego to do the same as everybody else, I want to show what we do in Europe and other parts of the world. There’s so many great (IPAs) in San Diego already, I won’t pretend I’m going to improve the style. But, I’ve got some other ideas. We can do some crazy stuff.”
Bjergsø says he is planning on brewing the popular Beer Geek series of stouts in San Diego.
“Bourbon-barrel aged Beer Geek Vanilla Shake is probably our [Mikkeller Denmark] most popular beer at the moment,” he said. “People will be excited to see them produced in San Diego and sold at a better price.”
If the first quarter of 2017 is any indication, there is still a long year of fantastic beer to come out of Mikkeller SD, which will eventually include barrel-aged sours.
“Daniel Cady is doing a good job taking care of those barrels,” says Bjergsø, referring to one of his brewers. Still, he avoids speculating on a release date. “The first time I met [Cady], I tasted some of his sour barrel-aged home brews. They were some of the best sour beers I’ve ever tasted.”
Mikkeller San Diego’s special release series go on sale at the brewery every Saturday this year.