I’m a hoarder, a child of depression-era parents. I have a beer stash and I agonize over what to open next. But I’m also moving from one tiny flat in London to another and this means pretending I’m someone else– someone who will drink expensive, rare and intense beer night after night because they can, without thinking about it or having a plan.
I’ve started this madness with the Mikkeller Jackie Brown. It’s the first of my devil-may-care stash drinking because, well, I’m not that excited about it. Maybe it’s the Afro on Mikkeller? (In the US this might be politically dicey.) The name doesn’t intrigue me (never been an Quentin Tarantino fan, but have seen Pam Grier passing in the flesh in L.A. and she is friggin’ GLORIOUS). It claims to be a brown ale and that is the one beer style I don’t particularly relish.
I like the idea of Mikkeller– an itinerant home-brewer whiz-kid who is blowing people’s minds with intense tricks borrowed from daring US breweries. It’s a bit DIY (in the US indie sense) and hopeful. I also like how he shares his secrets on the label- the type of malt, hops and yeast are listed right there, which is fantastic for those of us training our palates or experimenting with our own brews. I’ve never tried one of his beers before so here goes.
I open it, the head is a lacy, swirling vortex, immediately disappearing. The smell is amazing–so fresh. It reminds me of another reason why I love microbrewed beers–there is a sense of immediacy. The more you drink, and the better the beer, the easier it becomes to parse out what has gone into it. Chocolate malt and lush green leafy resin– big hops! (nugget, simcoe and centennial) I recognize the centennial but not the others– what should be an IPA flavor is back in black, flipping this beer that’s more like a dark lager in mouthfeel (light, effervescent, easy drinking) than an ale, even though ale yeast has been used. What at first was an off-putting soapy aftertaste has now developed into something layered and dense like a really good hand-roasted coffee. The hops linger lovingly. But I must say the pleasure of this beer is in the nose for me– I wish it had more of a backbone. There’s a center missing. Not that I wouldn’t drink it again, but at 6% I was expecting something bigger, more of a presence, more of a badass– like Pam Grier!