BREWERY: de Proefbrouwerij
LOCATION: Lochristi, Belgium
STYLE: Belgian strong pale ale
ABV: 9.4 percent
RELEASE DATE: 2013
AVAILABLE IN: 375ml bottles
BEERS POURED: One
Most successful breweries that have started in the last 10 or 20 years tend to have a similar story. Start home brewing, become obsessed, take the plunge and open up a small brewery, continue to grow and start distributing your wares to a larger and larger number of people.
The Danish duo of Mikkel Borg Bjergsø and Kristian Klarup Keller had a similar story in forming the highly regarded brewery Mikkeller but with one major exception: the duo skipped the step of opening up a brewery. While their beers are currently distributed to over 40 countries around the world and yet there is no actual Mikkeller brewery that can be visited.
The Mikkeller operation is what is known as gypsy brewing. Mikkeller beers are made at different locations around the world during down time in the host breweries schedule.1 Without the expensive overhead of operating a brewery Mikkel2 has a unique freedom to experiment with eclectic recipes that might prove too risky for a normal commercial brewery. This is one of the main reasons his brews have become world renowned among craft beer enthusiasts.
This freedom has also led to a huge number of beers being released under the Mikkeller name. In 2013 the company released 124 different beers.3 One of those beers was the bottle I have before me today, Funky E Star.4 It is described as a Belgian wild ale aged in sauternes wine barrels.5 The beer is bottled-conditioned with brettanomyces which as anyone who has read any of my previous reviews knows that is the magic word in my book.
I pour the beer into the glass and hold it up to the light to see a fantastic bright copper color reminiscent of orange marmalade. As I raise the glass the first thing that jumps out at me is the beautiful brett character. The funky barnyard like quality of the brettanomyces is front and center along with a fruity sweetness that brings to mind peaches, grapes and even a little green apple. The chardonnay like white wine aromas are definitely there as well.
My first sip is exactly what I expected based on the nose. A big funky brett presence along with a fruity sweetness that in addition to the peaches, grapes and apples included a hint of raisin as well. A very big doughy yeast flavor is prominent as well along with the chardonnay and oak tannins. The finish is dry and yet sweet but there is a lasting bitterness that seems to sit on the back of the palate for ever.