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Oops, they did it again. The team at Birch & Barley knocked our socks off last month with their first beer dinner, which featured Garrett Oliver and a host of his special reserve Brooklyn Brewery beers. Oliver is a tough act to follow, but this month’s event will feature yet another huge name from the world of beer.
On Monday beer director Greg Engert and his team will host Mikkel Borg Bjergsø, the award-winning and buzz-producing gypsy brewer from Denmark, on his first trip to the United States. Mikkel Borg Bjergsø brews under the name Mikkeller, which is a combination of his first name and the surname of co-founder Kristian Klarup Keller. (Mikkel-Keller = Mikkeller. Get it?) The two talented homebrewers started their “brewery” in 2006 by borrowing space and time from existing production breweries in Denmark, Norway, and Belgium.
Within its first year, Mikkeller was named Brewery of the Year by the Association of Danish Beer Enthusiasts. It was runner-up in 2007 and won again in 2008. Mikkeller’s beers have also won praise on “best-of” lists compiled by Beer Advocate and RateBeer.
Mikkel Borg Bjergsø has run Mikkeller since August 2007, when Keller left the brewing world for a career in music journalism. Bjergsø has since expanded by brewing his own beers and pursuing collaborations with brewers beyond Europe like Three Floyds in Indiana and Stone in California.
When we started seeing Mikkeller’s typewriter font and vertically-striped labels show up in D.C. about three years ago, we knew none of this. Since several of the bottles had De Proef (one of Mikkeller’s most frequent brewing partners) on the label, we assumed Mikkeller was a Belgian brewery. Over time we were clued in to its modus operandi: brew challenging beers at the world’s top breweries and make friends with great brewers along the way. Brilliant. (It’s a model that Baltimore brewer Brian Strumke is emulating with Stillwater Artisanal Ales, but more on that later…)
You can hear the original nomad brewer tell you all about Mikkeller himself on Monday night at Birch & Barley. The five-course, eight-beer dinner starts at 7pm and costs $76 plus tax and tip. Call Birch & Barley to see if spots are still available. By the looks of the menu and beer line-up (get full details by clicking on the event in our DC Beer Events Calendar), beer director Greg Engert, executive chef Kyle Bailey, and pastry chef Tiffany MacIsaac have a good chance of meeting, if not exceeding, the high bar they set last month.