At the moment, Mikkeller is the Danish darling of the international craft beer scene. I like Mikkeller very much, but I do think that a great deal of their popularity is due to what beer writer Andy Crouch calls “American craft beer hegemony.” Brewers from nations around the world, notably Japan, Denmark, Italy, and even Belgium and Germany, have taken note of American craft breweries’ successes at home and abroad. And they have been inspired, or perhaps persuaded, to brew similarly creative, anti-traditional, and “extreme” beers – and the global beer literati are drinking it up.
The brewers at Mikkeller are innovative in their own right, but they do borrow a lot of ideas from American beer and have even collaborated with infamously eccentric breweries like Stone. So they’re very zeitgeisty. One of the ideas they’ve taken from American brewers is the single hop beer – a cool idea, but also a gimmicky one if you consider that beers brewed with only one hop varietal aren’t really uncommon. Most pilsners will only use one hop: the classic, noble Saaz.
But still, single-hop beers, especially IPAs, are a great way to showcase hops that are more often used in conjunction with other hops. Like Nuggets. Personally I think Nuggets are an odd choice for a single-hop beer because they are generally used to add bitterness to a brew, rather than aroma or flavor. But the beer is quite nice. Cinnamon-orange with a resilient parchment-colored head, boasting a fruity and very leafy aroma with notes of tangerine, mango, caramel, cucumber, rum, and field greens. Appropriately hoppy and uite bitter on the palate; more peppery than fruity, with nuances of juniper, autumn leaves, and grapefruit. The finish is long and lingering with tangy bitterness.
Gimmicky or not, it’s a good beer – and now I know exactly what Nugget hops taste like! Surprisingly good with Brie, especially with a nice, spicy chutney.