Fearful Symmetries

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17 August, 2016

The duality of beer. The Jungian thing.: Rauch Pils by Mikkeller

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Wowzers! It appears that this is my first Mikkeller beer. That's odd.

Mikkeller, it says here, was formed in 2006 by friends Mikkel Borg Bjergsø and Kristian Klarup Keller in Copenhagen. They built upon their homebrewing obsession and took inspiration from American microbrews. Keller would bow out after a short time leaving Bjergsø alone as the brewery's mastermind.

Mikkeller is a "gypsy brewery" meaning the company does not own a brewing facility, although that is apparently changing. Ergo Bjergsø trots the globe and makes his beers at other folks' breweries. Whatever you may think of the practice, it seems to have served him and Mikkeller well.

Although I've apparently never had a Mikkeller beer before, they do stick out in my mind because of the sheer numbers of beers I see by them. In 2013 they made 124 brews. Novelty is Mikkeller's stock and trade, I guess.

I don't have an explanation as to why it's taken me so long to try one of their beers. Part of it is surely just not having any inclination towards a style or a particular ingredient. Part of it may also be the curating here in Madison. Perhaps Madison bottle shops simply carry styles that are unlikely to catch my attention. After all, I did buy this bottle in Chicagoland.

Still, I am happy to continue the Summer of Rauch 2016 with brewery new to me. In addition to being my first Mikkeller beer, I do believe it is also my first rauch pils. This batch was brewed at D'Proef in Belgium.

Rauch Pils is a lovely light amber color and hazy, which I thought odd and not pilsner-like. But multiple derivations from the norm can be a good thing. My pour made a big, loose, white crown that lasted an average amount of time. In a more pilsnery vein, it was quite effervescent with plenty of bubbly action that made me with I had unpacked my pilsner glasses.

Taking a whiff I caught that joyous, guaiacol goodness. I won't attempt to positively ID the type of wood used to smoke the malt but it smelled like Beech wood smoke to me. There was also a little cracker and even a dash of malt sweetness. And, being a pils, you had to have hops. In this case they smelled spicy. I don't recall any indication on the bottle as to whether this was supposed to be a Czech or German or Danish or whatever pils but the hop aroma was Bohemian to my nose.

When my tongue finally got in on the action, it was quite pleased. The smoke was at DEFCON 3 – not a DEFCON 1 Schlenkerla state of smoke but certainly much more than a background or accent flavor. And no, it did not taste like bacon. The non-smoked malts added a touch of sweetness while the hops took a grassy turn here on the taste. The greens were not very bitter and played second fiddle to the malt and I was reminded overall of a German pils.

Things took a turn back towards the Bohemian on the finish as the hops, whatever varieties they may have been, became rather peppery and chased away most of the malt flavor smoky or not. This made the taste pretty dry but not to the levels I associate with Czech pilseners. The lacing on my glass was really nice as there was one ginormous patch of foam surrounded by thin streaks.

After drinking Rauch Pils I decided that more people should make smoky pilsners. I really enjoyed the contrast between the pils elements – the hops, the light body, the fizzyness – and the smoke which brought a flavor less sharp to the table and one that added a fuller feel to the beer.

Junk food pairing: Rauch Pils pairs perfectly with Jays Barbeque potato chips. I like these chips because they taste more like a dry rub than a sticky sweet BBQ sauce. The big paprika taste has a nice earthy taste to it to complement the smoke but the chips are thin and light making for a nice contrast.

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|| Palmer, 6:13 AM

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