Mikkel Borg Bjergsø moved around the crowd last night at the Night After Monsters beer tasting like a virtual unknown. Clad in a red plaid shirt and a scruffy beard, Mikkel looked more like any other Montrose resident who'd walked over to Whole Foods for the tasting than a world-famous brewmaster.
Mikkel and his Danish compatriots had just gotten off a flight to Houston from Denmark, their home base, and both still seemed a little stunned by the unseasonably warm weather and the crowds of people wanting Mikkel to sign bottles or growlers of his beer.
As Mikkel worked his way through the crowd, his brewing partner Thomas (pictured above, on the right) laughed to me about the weather: "We'll trade you our winters for your winters any time," he said. When asked if his first visit to Texas was what he expected, he nodded.
"Is that good or bad?" I asked.
"Good," he laughed back. "I expected lots of flat land and huge cars."
And beer, of course. Thomas was enjoying an Independence Brewluminati, one of the dozens of rare craft beers that were on draft at Night After Monsters, a rare beer tasting that was among one of the dozens of events taking place during Houston Beer Week. Most other attendees were there for the Mikkeller beer, though.
Mikkeller is a gypsy brewery that travels from place to place, with Mikkel Borg Bjergsø conducting experiments as he goes. As a result, Mikkeller beers are broad in both style and number: Mikkeller launched 76 new beers last year alone. Here in Texas, Mikkel collaborated with Jester King in Austin, where the two brewers came up with a beer that pokes fun at TABC naming regulations.
Also on draft last night was Mikkeller's BooGoop, a buckwheat wine collaboration with Three Floyds and two different, barrel-aged Mikkeller brews. The one aged in red wine barrels was heady, deep, complex and almost too much for a casual craft beer drinker like me to even begin to understand. That was a fun feeling.
Equally fun was seeing our own local breweries put new twists on old favorites: Saint Arnold debuted its Sailing Santa, a stout mixture of half Elissa IPA and half Christmas Ale, as well as Southern Star's Creme Brulee Stout. Not surprisingly, the caramel-sweet stout was the first to sell out last night, as fans rushed to fill growlers of it to take home.
At the end of the night, Jay Rascoe -- one of the founders of Houston Beer Week -- was preparing to take Mikkel and Jakob to get some food. While the Danes had originally wanted a "Texas-sized steak," they were eventually swayed into some unique Mexican food and infused tequilas at El Gran Malo.
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The dinner must have gone well, because Rasco and the Danes were up and at it again this morning, as he took the two exploring around Houston: "Next stop with @MikkellerBeer," he Tweeted. "Carter's Country and some real Mexican food. Gotta represent."