Mikkeller and Earl of Essex Brew Day
It’s always great when the Mikkeller crew comes to town. They were here for two collaboration brews, one with Partizan for the Rainbow Project and one with the brewpub Earl of Essex, and a tap takeover at the Kings Arms. It’s safe to say they were making the most of their recent visit.
The tap takeover was a success of epic proportions, to put it mildly. Every beer geek, brewer and beer distributor had crawled out of the woodworks to kick thirteen kegs in one night. After this delicious ordeal it was pretty heroic to see some of the bar team from the Kings Arms and Thomas Schøn from Mikkeller up and ready to brew early the next day. Thomas and resident brewer Jimmy Hatherley had planned the recipe over email – a fairly big 7% percent IPA, packed with five American C hops and a simple malt bill. Thomas had even brought a bag of Citra hops in his suitcase as the guys couldn’t get hold of any. Cue confused Customs Officer jokes.
Thomas’ title in the Mikkeller empire is ‘Brand Manager’, but it seems his main duties are to brew and develop head honcho Mikkel’s recipes on their 2bbl pilot kit in the meatpacking district of Copenhagen. He chatted about an interesting Imperial Stout he has on the go, intended for Copenhagen Beer Celebration. Working on three different versions with chilli, chocolate and coconut, the three beers are intended to be drunk alongside each other at the festival. It’s a fairly labour intensive beer, as Thomas has been continuously feeding it brown sugar as the fermentation subsides, and even adding enzymes to break down the more complex sugars. What this means is that it’ll probably be spankingly outstanding.
The other fun job he has is to travel the world and guest brew with different breweries. From Russia to more recently San Francisco for ‘SF Beer Week’, where he managed to fit in three collaborative brews. One San Fran highlight of his was brewing with a new brewery called Faction, who he was pretty impressed with. They’re making a smoked beer that uses smoked malt, peat malt and actual burnt firewood. It’s obvious he gets a kick from seeing what other breweries are doing around the world, and taking inspiration from these collabs, which fuels how they work at Mikkeller.
We chatted a bit about how the London beer scene was developing, from Sours, Saisons and barrel ageing that has become a lot more prevalent. Thomas was happy to soak in the scene. When he turned up at Partizan he thought it was the garage where they would drive to the brewery from. He couldn’t believe that they were brewing there. But then he started tasting the beers, one after the other, and he was impressed by the quality of all of them. This small kit brewery approach, which is prevalent in the UK, is something that he really likes.
The 5 bbl brewing kit in the Earl of Essex sits a little awkwardly in the bar area. Brewing on it is a bit of a juggling act. Head brewer Jimmy and owner Anselm Chatwin are still tweaking how they work in such a confined space, but they get it done. Anselm said that they are actively looking for a bigger brewpub space, to give themselves a bit more room with the kit. With piles of hops strewn over the pub and a brewing related leak found in the basement kitchen, you can understand why the space can be a bit of a ballache.
The brew day went off without too many hitches, with Jimmy doing most of the brewing and Thomas happy to help when needed. Thankfully the Earl of Essex is probably one of the nicest pubs to sit in on a sunny Saturday morning, nursing a heavy head infused with Mikkeller brews. The beer they brewed was the strongest they had ever tried on the kit, and with what I can only assume is the most hops they’ve ever used too. Not that you would expect anything less from Mikkeller’s Brand Ambassador.
Watch out for the collaboration soon in both the Earl of Essex and The King Arms, I have no doubt it will be a corker of a brew.