Mikkel Borg Bjergsø - a Bad Ass Beer Advocate

Mikkel Borg Bjergsø of Danish brewers Mikkeller is the guy behind some of the most innovative collaborations and experimental brews that Europe has ever seen. Here's a piece I wrote for Beer Advocate magazine late last year as part of their Bad Ass Beer Advocate series.


He’s a part-time chemistry teacher who travels the world for beer inspiration. He has brewed some of the world’s highest-regarded beers and collaborated with brewing legends. And he doesn’t even own a brewery. Mikkel Borg Bjergsø is the very definition of a Bad Ass Beer Advocate.

Like many brewers before him, Mikkell started out at his kitchen sink. Homebrew was his way of getting to drink exciting beer in the styles he loved, which were seldom seen around Denmark. When those nascent brews were put on sale at his brother’s shop, Ølbutikken in Copenhagen, the public went nuts for his assertive, challenging beers. So he made the decision to brew more - but not to invest in a brewery.

Instead, he kept his job as a teacher whilst renting brewery time throughout Europe. In places such as De Proef and Nøgne Ø, Mikkel began to brew uncompromising beers of assured quality. Innovative brews such as Monk’s Brew and Beer Geek Breakfast soon captured the imagination (and palates) of drinkers worldwide and collaborations with US brewers followed. And so the ‘gipsy brewer’ legend was born.

Mikkel isn’t driven by sales or volume. Far more important to him is the freedom to brew beers without compromise, to take inspiration from his travels and revel in the endless possibilities that quality craft brewing can offer.

So what does he think of being named a Bad Ass Beer Advocate? “It’s really awesome”, he told us, “it shows that Mikkeller has gained respect in the US and that people like my beers. It also shows my that the whole gypsy thing is being respected now - which was not the case a few years back when I started up brewing!”

For his refusal to do the obvious, for his incessant experimentation and collaboration, for his unstinting approach to no-compromise brewing, Mikkel is Bad Ass through and through. But don’t just take our word for it. James Watt, from Scottish new-wave brewers Brewdog, is full of praise for Mikkel’s approach to brewing. “He is a rock star gypsy brewer,” James explained, “with killer beers, great innovation and breathtaking concepts always expertly executed.”

We’ll leave the last word to another of Mikkell’s collaborators, Nick Floyd from Three Floyds; “Who wouldn’t want to brew with a White Castle Hamburger loving Viking who happens to construct amazing beers without a brewery and a humble school teacher during the day?”

1 comment:

  1. Mikkeller rocks! Good piece, Simon. I'm surprised more haven't tried to follow in his footsteps and do a similar thing but it's a brave move and one which has worked well for him. I want to head to the bar in Copenhagen soon, just need to find a whole suitcase full of money to afford it!