Have a Beer for breakfast: one of those “live a little” phrases sometimes bandied about by optimistic Americans preaching about how can all find further carefree enjoyment in our lives, (Yes I am thinking Colin Farrell in Scrubs right about now.) I suppose this is a light-hearted concept, although a little close to being a novelty, which makes for a selling point. Can you make a beer perfect for breakfast? I don’t want to be overly pejorative about a simple idea, but having seen the dark side of alcohol, it doesn’t sit comfortably with me personally.
Nevertheless, let’s approach this blog as a light-hearted experiment. I have both the Mikkeller Beer Geek and Beer Hop Breakfast beers stashed away and it seems right to compare them together. I’ve chosen an evening when I am functioning off two hours sleep, have a slight hangover and have been fending off a prolonged migraine for the majority of the day. I couldn’t feel like I’ve just woken for breakfast or want a cup of tea anymore than I do, without actually having these beers at breakfast. So hopefully drinking them in this condition will helpy me get the full experience.
The thing that annoys me about Mikkeller is that they are so damn good at everything. They truly are. And yet I still don’t rank them in my favourite breweries. For this, I’m a snob. Because even though they can make a fantastic cream ale, a fantastic Belgian Abbey Tripel, a fantastic Barley Wine, a fantastic kellerbier, a fantastic chipotle infused stout, etcetera I still don’t give them the credit deserved. I’ve got a half written blog post, Compurgating Mikkeller, stashed away that I will release and broaden on this month now to prove a point. But let’s start our evaluation of them here.
I’ve started with the Mikkeller Beer Hop Breakfast 7.5%, made after the Beer Geek Breakfast, simply because I have lower hopes for this as a breakfast beverage. It pours a familiar, imperial stout, dark brown with a frothy coffee head. The aroma is initially tangy and sour colombus hops, overpowering a liquorice background. The first gulp hits you like a friendly American Pale Ale, with huge hop tickles and tongue numbing citrus. But take another sip and its closer to a Black IPA; the malted darkness within licking at those hops. For some reason, after a minute or so of it settling, it suddenly stops smelling appetising and takes on a distinct washing-up liquid odour. It isn’t pleasant raising it to your mouth anymore, but continues to taste good and keeps changing. Now it's an imperial stout with huge roasted malts and fresh coffee coming to the forefront. The drink ends as a modern day coffee IPA, as finally that mixed bag of flavours settles. It's lovely stuff that just keeps giving. Would I have this at breakfast? Only if I was planning to spend the rest of the day snoozing on the sofa whilst burping hops in people’s faces.
Let’s try the Mikkeller Beer Geek Breakfast 7.5%, designed with plenty of coffee flavours to give that morning coffee house feel. Identical in colour to the Beer Hop but with a head that only manifests as I purposely disturb the drink. Whereas the Beer Hop seemed to change with every sip, this one changes everytime you put your nose to the glass. First, a glass of hard roasted malts. Then coffee coffee and coffee. Finally a lot of vanilla sweetness. It's all the separate fragrances of an Imperial Stout hitting you one by one. The taste is a smooth stout with slightly vinous but pleasant impy qualities. But the finish is espresso. It doesn't punch you initially like a coffee stout might do. But the end result gets you there, and does briefly make you believe you've just supped a vanilla latte in a local barista. It doesn’t change taste, unlike the Beer Hop, despite its constant change in scent. It's just one to sit and savour, enjoy. Though it does a good job of convincing me I'm having a "beer geeks" ideal breakfast beverage, I'd much rather crack open this in front of a roaring fire with an episode of Midsomer Murders on and savour it. It doesn't inspire me to try an extra few miles on the morning jog.
My initial draft of this blog, written as I was actually drinking the beers, confirms all you need to know about the breakfast concept. The harsh, red squiggly line from Microsoft was out in force as I punched random keys, hoping they’d be somewhere near the letter I was looking for. Redrafting consisted of me searching for more coherent sentences to fit the 'got quirte a fe wehiops in tit,' from my original version. If I was drinking either of these for breakfast, a family intervention would be in order. Two cracking beers though.