Monday, 25 February 2013

Beer of the week: Mikkeller US Alive

I love Christmas presents. I love them because it gives people a reason to splash out, a little frivolously, on things that they know that people will love but wouldn't buy themselves. This week's beer, a gift from Claire, is Mikkeller's US Alive: a hybrid of US hops, Belgian Brett yeast, British malt and Danish brewing eccentricity.

In the pilot episode of The Beertalkers we talked about "posh beer" and what that means. I think a point we missed in that episode is that unusual beer is undervalued both monetarily and influentially. Beer may well be the great leveller but in order to make interesting, innovative beers that drive change and trends, braver breweries must take risks with unusual ingredients and recipes. Ingredients are expensive - spoilt or unsuccessful brews have to be poured away, and this adds to the cost of the beer.

Let's examine The Devil Wears Prada;

I think for brewing there's an element of Miranda Priestly's speech. She explains that the trends on the catwalk filter down to high street in some kind of watered down version of the radical original. Today's Kernel IPA or Brewdog imperial stout is tomorrow's Fuller's Wild River and Shepherd Neame Double Stout.

But I digress and so back to the Mikkeller beer. A mashup like this will probably not kick-start any brewing trend but that's not the point. This beer is supposed to confound exceptions and to hell with the consequences. Interesting then that it's quite conventional in flavour. The sweet malt reminds me of an American take on British IPA, a Goose Island or Brooklyn maybe. The US hop flavours are more subdued than expected, which could be a sign of age or maybe a fight with the Brett. But still, this is one hell of a beer, the spiky bitterness permeates the burnished malts and those Brett flavours give so much depth and lasting flavour at the back of the tongue.

At £10 for 750ml it is really not expensive at all when compared with a wine of similar quality. Buy it, share it, and revel in its uniqueness.


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