Brewery Rowe: Mikkeller's 52-beer year, and other beer news
By Peter Rowe

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Mikkeller San Diego: Warp drive!

Since launching Mikkeller San Diego in April, owner Mikkel Borg Bjergsø has struggled to adapt.

Finally, he reached this conclusion: Despite its location in Southern California’s craft beer capital, Mikkeller San Diego can’t mimic local sensibilities. Instead, it must reflect the owner’s iconoclastic European approach.

“We release a lot of beers in Europe,” said the Danish brewer. “I decided 2017 should be the year we take the same approach and release new beers here.”

Make that 52 new beers, or an average of one a week.
That would be a demanding schedule for any brewery, let alone one still in its rookie year. Bjergsø is no novice — he has a global reputation — but Mikkeller San Diego is his first brewery. In the past, this “gypsy brewer” has made beers at the breweries of friends and colleagues.

While he landed in San Diego because of its reputation for excellent beers, Bjergsø has decided not to brew the beer that is a San Diego hallmark.

“It’s difficult to come to San Diego as a Danish brewer and think you can do a better West Coast IPA,” he said. “I know that’s not possible.”

Instead, he promised a year’s worth of unusual beers: barrel-aged sours, hazy New England IPAs and a new twist on his celebrated stout, Beer Geek Breakfast, featuring Thai ingredients.

Also, he has begun a series of limited release beers in cans. The first three — Fruit Face, Beer Geek Brunch and Uklar IPA — appeared last week, all with labels that are slightly off-kilter.

“Not all of them have to look even or all in the right place,” he said. “I want people to see that these beers are not produced in huge volume on an assembly line.”

The next release of Mikkeller San Diego cans is scheduled for noon Saturday at the brewery, 9368 Cabot Drive, San Diego.

Kings of Beer

Mid-winter may seem an odd time to tout a fruity India Pale Ale, but Sierra Nevada’s Tropical Torpedo IPA (6.7 percent alcohol by volume) is this week’s King of Beer. That’s because a.) it’s terrific and b.) in San Diego, every season is IPA season.

Using the dry-hopping “torpedo” device that infused the original Sierra Nevada Torpedo with fresh aromas, Tropical Torpedo is a joy for fans of juicy hops. Orange peel, mango, passion fruit — all enchant the nose and the tongue. While not thin, the body is light for an IPA; this is a very quaffable beer.

Tropical Torpedo sinks last week’s King, Columbia Street Amber (4.5 percent). The latter beer was a sentimental choice — this lager has been a Karl Strauss stalwart since 1989 — and it remains a mild, expertly designed brew that can pair with most dinner or lunch entrees.