During my trip to Cincinnati I visited a small specialty grocery store, and wandered over to their refrigerated section, looking for nothing in particular. But something shouted at my eyeballs from behind the frosted glass door… a lonely little dark beer bottle, wrapped with a green and white label that subtly displayed the words “Coffee IIPA”.
“What in the flying fucking fornication,” I pantomimed with my lips, “…is THAT?” In a trance, I gazed at it for a minute the way Indiana Jones stared down the gold idol in the opening scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark, then with my eyes wide open I reached for it; my fingers and palm drawn toward it by an awkward gravitational pull, and gently removed it from its icy tomb (without replacing it with a bag of sand). “Coffee IIPA.” Bothering not to read past the title I slapped my credit card on the counter, slid my treasure into a thin little brown paper bag, and trotted out with my brain still bedazzled at what I had found. “Coffee IIPA”. I looked back to make sure a giant boulder wasn’t barreling after me.
Later in the evening, once my mind was no longer a giddy flutter, I unsheathed the bottle from its crinkled paper caul, and decided to study my little brew-gem. And then it hit me: “Mikkeller”, the world famous brewer from Copenhagen, Denmark. “Oh… shit on me.” The honeymoon was over. You see, Mikkeller is a brewer that, despite its savory sounding recipes, has traditionally left me just as bored with the flavor as it left me pissed off at the price tag. This 12oz bottle alone was US$7. Regardless, I pressed forward with a self-imposed optimistic enthusiasm that maybe I had found one worthy of the retail price. Just maybe…
My artificial optimism, however, was put back in its place by Mikkeller’s finished product.
The liquid did have a nice and interesting pour debut. Orange, with a definite shade of brown. Dense and foggy. A bone white, thick and pillowed head with lots of large bubbles and foamy lumps. Sort of sloppy, but filled with energy. The head died down at a medium pace throughout the session. The aroma, too, fluffed my beer boner: bitterness, coffee beans, malt, booze, and newly mown grass. And that was as good as it got.
The taste had a heavy coffee flavor on the front end, complete with the malt and grassy bitterness that was introduced with the aroma. And as soon as the beer began to travel down my gullet I tasted more coffee and it finished with an acidic, tangy flavor, and a slightly warming note of alcohol. The aftertaste still carried a heavy taste of bitter espresso, and kept a grip on my tongue with a hoppy bitterness that was much more bitterness than hoppy.
The lacing was very mild, especially for an imperial IPA. Perhaps the oils from the coffee lubed it like a string of anal beads. The texture was quite lovely, actually, as it was thick, silky, and quite bubbly. Overall this was another interesting idea that ended up in the long list of dull sequels by Mikkeller. At least its 10.5% ABV gave me a little massage.
I acknowledge the spirit and hard work put forth by Mikkeller (the name comes from the two founders, Mikkel Borg Bjergsø, and Kristian Klarup Keller). But I do not approve of their approach. They are a gypsy brewing company; meaning they do not have their own facility. They collaborate with other brewers and use their hardware and resources to make their own liquid. For Sleepover IIPA they collaborated with To Øl.
A brewer without its own brewery makes no sense to me. It’s like being an auto-mechanic without your own shop. The result in my opinion is, over the course of the last 8 years (since Mikkeller was founded), a towering catalogue of amazing craft beer ideas, not a single one of which however was made with dedication. One great idea after another, but zero developed fine-tuned ideas. Drive-by brewing. “As seen on TV” style innovation. To top it all off, Mikkeller’s beers usually contain the highest price tags on the shelf, which is the biggest LOAD TO THE FACE to a craft beer drinker such as myself. I have given many a Mikkeller selection my money, and have never gotten my money’s worth. Why buy costume jewelry at a “Tiffany & Co.” price? The answer is: you shouldn’t.
Mikkeller “Sleepover” Coffee IIPA
Imperial IPA brewed with Espresso Coffee
IBU: 70 (my best guess)
Overall: 7/10 (but 5/10 for the price)