12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS #7: Mikkeller Lovin’ Christmas, brewed at De Proef Brewery, Lo Christi-Hufte, Belgium
Date: December 31, 2018
The Story— We’re presenting our list of 12 great beers for the season. Some are relatively easy to find, others are from our archives and beer vault. Follow these posts for other beers in the series: first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth,
Dirk Naudts and his wife Saskia Waerniers established De Proef Brewery in 1996. From the beginning the idea was to produce some of their own beers, but also to produce beers on demand for those who were trying to get breweries started and for beer parlors that wanted their own distinctive house beers. It was a brilliant idea — they created a state of the art brewery and in only a few years produced literally hundreds of unique beers. Tim Webb, author of CAMRA’s Good Beer Guide to Belgium, the only author to rival the beer author Michael Jackson’s understanding of Belgian Beers, essentially threw up his hands because so many of the beers were so good. To catalog them all would be a separate guide.
When they started it was pretty easy to walk in with an idea and leave with an agreement to brew it. Not so much now. De Proef gained world-wide fame for a number of its products, but more than any, it’s work with the Danish teacher turned gypsy brewer Mikkel Borg Bjergsø, creator of Mikkeller beers. De Proef’s production of Mikkeller beers made Mikkel rich enough to buy his own brewery in California, but also created demand for their services that outstripped their ability to meet. So today, you had better bring a good reputation to the collaboration and you’d better be prepared to pay well for the services of the exceptional “rental brewery.”
Mikkel has produced something around 2,000 beers in his wanderings — you can taste hundreds of them in his bars in Copenhagen, but he seem to hit his stride best during the holiday season. His beers are rich, big and boozy and adventurous. Like most of his beers the one we’ve chosen from our archives was a one-off, we believe. But you can certainly find something as interesting lingering on the shelves of good beer stores. There’s a good chance what you find will have come from the new San Francisco brewery (actually it’s not that new — it’s the original AleSmith brewery), but there are still plenty of De Proef versions around as well. For a review of a Mikkeller beer from their US brewery, click here.
The Beer— Especially in 2012, this was an audaciously hopped IPA, but ginger & pine defuse the managed to citrus. A firm pale malt almost stands up to it. A sipper for sure, though it’s 7.8% ABV is pretty modest by holiday standards.
Value — Good. It was close to $14, but it came in a 75 cl bottle.
Values: “fair” is a good beer at an above market price, “good” is worth the money, “very good” is a bargain, and “excellent” is a steal.