There is something going on in Europe. There appears to be a proliferation of un-anchored, experimental breweries that thrive on pushing boundaries and creating beer that challenges traditional notions of beer styles. And, much to our advantage, these breweries seem intent on selling their beer in Alberta.
Mikkeller might be the prototype. This Danish gypsy brewer is known worldwide as a brewery that offers up original— and sometimes outrageous—beer. But in recent years a number of similar breweries have opened; some replicating Mikkeller’s “gypsy” model of not purchasing a brewery and instead creating partnerships with various existing breweries to make their beer.
Some include Denmark’s Evil Twin, Nøgne Ø from Norway and Sweden’s Närke Kulturbryggeri. Another is Beer Here, also from Denmark. Created by a pioneer of the Danish craft-beer scene, Christian Skovdal Andersen, Beer Here has been around since 2008, but for most of that time the brewery remained very small and focused on the local scene. Only in the past few months has the team felt the need to ship beer to Alberta. Beer Here remains a brewery smaller than Alberta’s Alley Kat or Wild Rose, yet we are fortunate to be able to sample their wares.
There are a handful of Beer Here beer on sale in the province. In many ways it was difficult to decide which of their interesting beer to pick. Ultimately, I opted for their Morke Pumpernickel Porter. This is a porter with rye, pumpernickel and fennel seeds to create a pumpernickel rye bread quality.
The beer pours deep, dark brown verging on stout-like black. It forms a thick, dense tan head that provides good lacing. It also has good staying power through the tasting.
The aroma offers dark caramel, light chocolate with some strong licorice notes as well as hints of coffee. I also pick up some rye bread quality. When you take a sip you first encounter chocolate, coffee, licorice and a grainy sweetness. The middle builds a stronger spice note that accents licorice and hints of pepper. The finish has an alcohol edge, some big fruit esters along with a touch of roast. Pumpernickel and the rye malt offer a subtle effect, edging towards earthy and a rye character without overpowering the overall beer impression.
This is an interesting beer. If Beer Here were not trying to create new and creative beer, we might never have discovered that pumpernickel, fennel and rye actually work well in beer.
Not all Beer Here beer are winners. Such is the fate of being experimental. But they are all interesting, creative and boundary-pushing, which means they are worth trying. V
Jason Foster is the creator of onbeer.org, a website devoted to news and views on beer from the prairies and beyond.