waiter, there’s some whisky in my beer

If you’re puzzled as to why there is whisky in my beer, then you probably read yesterday’s post. It may help demystify you, as this is the second in a series of posts devoted to the Mikkeller showcase tasting at Slowbeer in Hawthorn. The first part of the tasting was on Mikkeller Beer Geek Weasel and some whisky barrel aged variants. The second half was for the Mikkeller Blacks. The Mikkeller Black series was brewed at De Proef Brouwerij in Belgium – as previously mentioned, the Mikkeller brewer is ‘homeless’ of a fashion. I just can’t get over how cool the concept is, of having a roving brewer…

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The Mikkeller Black is a formidable beast. It is an imperial stout with a whopping 17.5% ABV. To get it to this ABV, champagne yeast was employed for fermentation, as was brewer’s sugar. Chris, our humble host and the manager of Slowbeer did well to warn us to have a full stomach prior to tasting! It had quite a savoury aroma but was very sweet, a thick, rich mouthfeel and did feel like too much after a while. I think it would be fantastic with dark, bitter chocolate (we’re talking the 75% cocoa content and above!).

The Mikkeller Black Whisky edition was sweet. At first, it was “zomg this is amazing and soooo delicious” and then all of a sudden, pow! it’d hit you and you’d be saying “get it away from me!”. Again quite rich, with a slight head due to less carbonation than its vanilla sibling above. This beer was aged in French whisky barrels for three months – they don’t say what alcohol exactly but it could be either calvados, cognac or armagnac. I found that the alcohol of the barrel permeated the taste very nicely and was well integrated.

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The last of the special Mikkellers was the Black peated edition. This lives in peated whisky barrels for three months and it’s so obvious in the final beer. Jourdan of The Salving Font and I were really quite taken by this beer and even the day after, I could still taste it…taunted (and haunted) me for quite some time after. Easily the winner of the three for me.

To recap…

Mikkeller Black – even thicker mouthfeel than the Beer Geek Weasel Brunches. Higher alcohol content. A little goes a long way. Try with dark, bitter chocolate. Very sweet, rich imperial stout.

Mikkeller Black Whisky Edition – shame they do not specify what French liquor barrel used to contain (I find calvados quite appley). Sickeningly syrup-sweet but whisky is well integrated into the beer. Least favourite of the three.

Mikkeller Black Peated Edition – very little carbonation, with the peat adding a wonderful depth to the beer. A special drop indeed. Clearly for the serious beer lover, but if you can get your hands on a bottle, try it!

Alas yes, these were special releases and the Slowbeer tasting (seriously $30 for a taste of six beers!) was ridiculously good value. It was a great way to challenge the palate too. There are whispers of a lambic tasting in the future which I think would be terrific. There also tends to be discounts on purchases made in store after the tasting – can’t wait for the next one.

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