Mikkel Borg Bjergsø

Photo by Ginalola LowryPreviously, Beer Basics visited the Gutter, hosted by Shelton Brothers, importers of Mikkeller Drink’in the Sun. (2.4% abv).

Earlier rants introduced my passion of seeking out “session” beers. Allow me to offer two basic reasons this is a worthy quest. The first is the opportunity to revel in the sensual experience of quaffing a pint of tasty brew before finishing the first few sentences of a good conversation. This is even more effective when being able to remember the end of the conversation. The second is the actual searching involved in seeking for, and tasting these brews. This is where my masochistic side comes out. Inevitable is the resulting sparking beverage tasting like either hop tea or malt soda. After tasting Drink’in the Sun it gave me hope that my quest still has a reason to be continued.

And so, I found myself at the Gutter, at the invitation of the Shelton Brothers to interview Mikkel Borg Bjergsø, the brewer of Drink’in the Sun. The interview was done on video but the sounds in the bowling alley and low lighting leaves the following transcription the most presentable version of this interview. (Video version to follow.)

You can identify the person being quoted by the following “tags”.  BB is Beer Basics and MBB is Mikkel Borg Bjergsø,

BB – For such a long time the high alcohol beers, the radical beers, have been all the rage now you’re coming in with beers less than 3.5% alcohol by volume…

MBB – 2.4% this one…

BB – That’s what I’m drinking right now, exactly. How did you come up with the concept for this beer?

MBB – It’s a beer we make every year and we make it lower every year by half a percent because I want to make it as light as possible but keep the flavor. As far down as we can go and still have the flavor and we will still try and go a little further. We will stop when we have a compromise with the flavor. In my world the perfect beer would be 0% alcohol but with all of the flavor from the malts and all of the flavor from the hops still there.

BB – But you did just a trace of alcohol there to give that beer the essence of what makes it beer and the flavors that make it beer… So how far down will you be able to go and not lose this?

MBB – This is still working so maybe next year it will be 1.9% alcohol I think that might really be the limit.

BB – Right… As far as the Brewer is concerned this type of beer takes a lot less malt. What challenges does this present to the Brewer?

MBB – It’s hardest to do beers like this because it’s harder to hide the faults. I mean, like in a big Pilsner, if there’s something wrong with that it can hide behind one of the flavors. That’s why it’s so hard to do a beer of this alcohol strength and make it clean and flavorful. We have done a lot of taste tests of other beers and I have not tasted a beer of this strength that has the flavors…

BB – It’s usually a hop tea or malt soda… What is been the reaction in United States particularly to this beer?

MBB – It’s hard because of the seasonal beer that we do in the summer. We only release it once but the demand is growing so I think it’s a trend that’s also growing around the world. In Europe there is quite a trend to brewing local low-alcohol beers that are session beers that people could drink a lot of. So I think that in the future this is the kind of beer that Brewers are going to be competing with. Instead of trying to brew the best Imperial Stout it will be these session beers.

BB – How strong is this trend for session beers in Europe?

MBB – Everybody’s talking about that… who’s doing good session beers… that’s what everybody’s talking about right now.