Ten years ago, Mikkel Borg Bjergsø was a Danish schoolteacher and home brewer. Today, he runs, arguably, the world’s most creative small brewery, Mikkeller, and exports to 40 countries. Whether it’s barrel-aging beers, adding exotic fruits to them or brewing for high-end restaurants like Noma, the world’s beer connoisseurs follow where Mikkel leads.
To try them out, head to one of his influential Copenhagen bars. Opened in 2010, the original Mikkeller Bar (Viktoriagade 8BC) is crisp and quirky in its design, in a city where pubs have traditionally been dingy, macho spaces. ‘Hardly any customers come to get drunk,’ says Mikkel. ‘It’s about trying something new and talking about beer.’ Naturally, Mikkeller has become a pilgrimage for fanatics keen to try its five, super-fresh house beers or legendary brews such as the Beer Geek Breakfast, made with ground coffee.
A newer cocktail bar Mikropolis (Vendersgade 22) and Mikkeller & Friends (Stefansgade 35), which has an impressive 40 beers on tap, are less touristy. Mikkel also has a restaurant called Øl & Brød , which majors on beer-paired open-faced smørrebrød sandwiches, made on thick rye bread – and he’s set to launch a brew pub, Warpigs later (Flæsketorvet 25-37).
Meanwhile, despite not owning a brewery (his recipes are executed by third-parties, mainly de Proef Brouwerij in Belgium), Mikkel continues to produce amazing beers at a bewildering rate. As well as spontaneously fermented beers, he is very excited about the low- and no-alcohol beers he is working on: ‘Beer you could drink for breakfast and when you go running? That would be perfect.’