I found the infamous Mikkeller Black during my last visit to Archive Beer Boutique in Brisbane. This bar often gives me the chance to try some beers from my epic list that are difficult to find in Australia, especially in my home town. This trip was no exception; I managed to sample two new beers on the day – the light and refreshing Hitachino Nest White Ale and the dark and brooding Mikkeller Black. At 17.5% alcohol, it probably wasn’t the best choice for a sunny Sunday afternoon, but I’m happy to suffer for my quest. It’s time to delve into the darkness that is beer number 84.
The bottle says:
It was only available on tap, so there was no label or bottle to look at. A quick Google search revealed these tasty facts on the Mikkeler website:
– Mikkeller Black is claimed to be the strongest beer in Scandinavia
– The bottle features a black label with a large white kanji on it (I was later informed by a colleague that this is the kanji for ‘black’….appropriate)
– It’s the wildest, craziest, and strongest beer brewed by Mikkeler…considering the breweries reputation for pushing the boundaries, this is a huge call
– It’s not for sissies…obviously
The body of Mikkeller Black is (unsurprisingly) about as black as black gets, with a slight purple tinge around the edges like some sort of malevolent aura. The head is mocha brown and very dense, and provides a really good lacing. It smells so much like coffee; even my friends can smell it from their positions around the table. The initial taste has some really nice dark fruit sweetness, which is quickly replaced by roasted coffee. The bitterness is big, reminiscent of a coffee bitterness that lasts for ages. The alcohol is VERY apparent; imagine a short black coffee with a shot of vodka and you’ll get it. The alcohol seems to evaporate early in the sip and drives the coffee flavours and bitterness around the mouth and into the nasal passages. This beer is a sipper; I made the mistake of taking a mouthful, and it almost took my head off.
This is all while the drink is still very cold…
The beer has warmed, but aromas and flavours haven’t changed that much. It’s odd that the cold doesn’t affect the flavour profile to the extent that it would with other beers…maybe something to do with the alcohol content? There’s now some alcohol sweetness in the aroma, some chocolate sweetness in the initial taste and a little molasses at the end, but overall it’s the same roasted coffee flavours that have been present from the start. The bitterness is the same, only much bigger. The aftertaste doesn’t seem to last as long, but maybe I’m just accustomed to it now. It’s still very much a sipper…
I understand why this beer is one to try before you die; you have to experience it to understand just how big it is. The beer has an impending sense of doom, like it may be the last beer you ever enjoy. I don’t think it’s the sort of beer that would appeal to the average drinker, only those with an adventurous pallet and wallet – the largest glass that Archive was serving the beer in was a pot (285ml) which cost $12 each…this shows just how powerful this brew is and how much respect it commands. This isn’t a beer that I would drink every day, or even every week; it’s something to be saved for a special occasion when it can be savoured and appreciated.