Pub/Bar of the Month July 2016: Mikkeller Bar, Copenhagen, Denmark
Mikkeller Bar, Copenhagen, Denmark
There is no bigger name in international craft brewing than Mikkeller.
Mikkel Borg Bjergsø is a former teacher who, since 2006, has been brewing envelope-pushing beers using other company’s facilities.
The reputation of his beers has spread so far and so fast that it is hard to believe it is only ten years since his first commercial brew appeared.
Once established, it was a logical next step for Mikkel to open a bar where the best of his products and other quality beers could be showcased.
He found the right venue in a basement a few blocks behind Copenhagen’s main railway station. Here, the simply-named Mikkeller Bar is a surprisingly low-key venue for such high-profile beers.
Half a dozen long tables on the largely traffic-free street make for pleasant drinking on a summer’s evening, with a few steps leading down into two small, white-painted rooms, the first of which has a clutch of stools hugging the bar in one corner.
On both sides of the pub there is space for just a handful of tables, which are dressed with fresh flowers in old bottles and lit by candles in the evening.
The décor is minimalist and a little odd, consisting primarily of a couple of large cartoons on the walls, some low-slung golden lamps and what appear to be dainty kitchen cabinets, but it achieves its purpose, providing character without detracting from the main focus of the venue, which is, of course, to deliver adventurous, quality beers.
A look at the blackboard behind the bar reveals the dilemma facing customers. Twenty draught beers are displayed – a selection of Mikkeller’s own beers joined by contributions from the likes of Perennial and Founders in the US and Beavertown and Siren in the UK.
Beers are served in two sizes, small and large. Small comes in elegant little glasses holding just 20 cl. Starting at more than £3 for such a small measure, the price-per-pint ratio does not look favourable but, if you’re happy to sacrifice quantity for quality, you can at least work your way through a few fascinating drinks without breaking the bank.
If you just want something brisk and refreshing in the afternoon, try Mikkeller’s Vesterbro Wit; for a nightcap opt for his complex Monks Elixir quadrupel. There might also be an American brown ale, a Berliner Weisse or a coffee imperial stout.
Alternatively, take a look through the impressive bottled beer menu, where you’ll find rarer beers from the Mikkeller portfolio along with modern classics from the likes of De Dolle, Jolly Pumpkin, Bell’s and Lost Abbey. Read carefully, though: some of the higher-end beers can set you back more than £250.
After a quick aperitif, if beer-and-food pairing is up your street, pop along to Øl & Brød just a couple of doors away. This is Mikkeller’s restaurant experience, specialising in Danish open sandwiches but offering other options, too.
There are several other Mikkeller-related venues in Copenhagen these days, and Mikkeller is also a partner with the American brewery Three Floyds in the city’s Warpigs brewpub, a big, brash barbecue place that, atmospherically, is a world away from Mikkeller’s original site.
With its simplicity of design and purpose allowing a complete focus on the beer in your glass, the Mikkeller Bar sends out a very clear message that beer is now well and truly a connoisseur experience.
It reminds me of visits to enotecas in Italy and cantinas in Spain where the furnishings are deliberately downplayed and all emphasis is on the quality of the product in the glass.
Just one visit here and you’ll understand just how far beer has come in a very short period of time.
Mikkeller Bar, Viktoriagade 8 B-C, 1655 Copenhagen, Denmark
Tel. +45 (0) 3331 0415
Opening Hours: 1pm–1am; 1pm–2am Thursday and Friday; noon–2am Saturday