Liam and Noel, Venus and Serena, Brennan and Dale and Kane and Abel.1 Sibling rivalries have been a round since the start of time but there is one rivalry that beer lovers across the world are thankful for.

Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergso and Mikkel Borg-Bjergso are brothers from Denmark that have had a fierce rivalry since childhood. Competing in everything from childhood games to high school sports the rivalry was not always a friendly one. The two brothers became infatuated with craft beer in the early 2000’s and Jeppe opened up a bottle shop while Mikkel started brewing beer with another long time friend Kristian Keller. Mikkeler was born.

Mikkeller Big Worse bottle

Mikkeller beer was first sold at Jeppe’s bottle shop and quickly gained a following. The relationship was mutually beneficial until 2010 when Mikkel decided to open up a bar in the same neighborhood as the bottle shop. Jeppe responded by starting his own brewery. Evil Twin was born.

In the past five short years the two breweries have grown into internationally distributed award winning breweries. Mikkel has focused on creating an always changing line of creative beers that push the limits of brewing.2

Over the years I have had the opportunity to enjoy many of both brothers offerings but today I happen to have one of Mikkel’s creations in front of me. Big worse is an American style barleywine brewed with Pils and caramunich malts, candy sugar, hops3 and ale yeast. The beer clocks in at a hefty 12 percent ABV and pours a beautiful burnt orange.

Mikkeller Big Worse

As I raise the glass to my nose I get a wonderful rich bouquet of sweet caramel, figs, molasses and even hints of chocolate. The nose has a very big malty sweetness reminiscent of malt extract on brew day and does not smell like a 12 percent beer at all. There is not a lot of influence from the hops but I am unsure of how old this particular bottle is. Overall the beer smells very inviting and I find myself burying my nose in the glass over and over before taking my first sip. The first sip of the beer has a lot of the same characteristics as the nose. It starts with the big malty sweetness along with notes of caramel, figs and molasses. As I swallow that first sip the 12 percent ABV finally shows up. In addition to the sharp boozy bite there is also a noticeable astringent quality in the finish. The beer also has a mouth feel much thinner than one would expect based on the malty sweetness and high ABV.

Mikkeller Big Worse
BREWERY: De Proefbrouwerij
LOCATION: Lochristi, Belgium
STYLE: Barleywine
ABV: 12 percent
IBU: n/a
PRICE: $8.99
AVAILABLE IN: 375ml bottles
Overall, Big Worse has a great aroma and starts out with an enjoyable caramel and molasses sweetness, but the watery mouth feel, unpleasant astringency and boozy finish really detract from the over all experience. The beer smells wonderful and starts out enjoyable, but falls a bit flat over all. Who knows, a few years in the cellar might help integrate the two sides of this beer a bit but I will have to wait a few years to find out for sure.
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