Beer Review: Scandinavia's Mikkeller Jackie Brown

With this hoppiness and 6% ABV, it could be casually labeled an imperial/double brown ale, but whatever you call it, the unconventional nature of Jackie Brown makes it all the more desirable to admirers of extreme and experimental beer.

When poured, the light chocolate brown brew smells of boozy caramel on toast. An inch of khaki head slowly dissipates to the edges, leaving fractal-like patterns of lacing on the sides of an imperial pint glass.

At this point, Jackie Brown presents itself as the typical brown beer. But like the bottle says, “it wouldn’t be Mikkeller if it wasn’t well hopped.” With the first sip, enduring bitterness from a motherload of hops mixes with the roasted grain’s malty chocolate. Together, these two influences morph into a burnt mocha coffee flavor that implants itself inside your tongue and radiates outward. Every breath and swallow is shrouded in a cloud of dark malt and high alpha acid hops. Although the grain bill contains a percentage of flaked oats, which can impart density and a slick mouthfeel, the brew is thinner bodied than I expected, although the commanding hops dryness gives Jackie Brown plenty of substance.

Founded by homebrewers Mikkel Borg Bjergsø and Kristian Klarup Keller, Mikkeller is now the project of Mikkel alone. Batches of his crazy good beer are collaboratively crafted at several breweries around the world, including fellow Danish breweries Nogne Ø and Ørbæk. Jackie Brown was born at the De Proef brewery in Lochristi-Hijfte, Belgium.

According to beer judging guidelines, brown ales should be a celebration of sweet dark grain. English style browns exhibit a heavier, dominant malt character with very little hops presence, while American browns tend to balance malt and hops flavors, sometimes with a modest degree of citrusy bitterness. Alcohol content of both types is usually moderate, somewhere between 3% and 5% ABV.

Jackie Brown, a noteworthy brown ale from Mikkeller, defies categorization under both English and American style. This specialty beer takes the generic base style of brown ales, with the signature appearance, aroma, and mouthfeel and adds a mountain of nugget, simcoe, and centennial hops, resulting in a brown beer that’s bitter as hell.


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