Mikkeller’s first brewery opens its doors in glorious SoCal.

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I drove out to San Diego on Friday and spent the night on someone’s couch in La Jolla. Southern California is a real charm, and La Jolla really is heaven on earth. Beautiful beaches, gorgeous weather, and all around a really nice neighborhood. It is the California everyone dreams about.

 

The next morning I headed off to the opening of Mikkeller San Diego and the inaugural run that Mikkeller Running Club hosts at every ribbon cutting. This is the first brewery that Mikkeller has launched and it not so surprising that it is in America. From up until now, The Mikkeller brand was run as a ‘gypsy-style’ brewery, i.e. having no permanent space of their own, and creating concoctions as guests in others’ facilities. So it made sense that when the opportunity came to have a space in Miramar, an industrial part of San Diego peppered with so many breweries it is actually nicknamed ‘Beeramar’, Mikkel and his team knew to take it.

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Denmark and America’s brewing relation has a pretty strong history. Shaun Hill, head brewer and founder of Hill Farmstead in Vermont has a decorated list of awards including, ‘Best Brewery in the World’ from notable beer forums. Hill is also recognized for taking over the barrel program at Nørrebro Bryghus a couple years ago, and winning two gold medals at the World Beer Cup with the Danish brewery. Even Mikkeller prides itself in celebrating American beers. At the opening of the new Mikkeller Bottle Shop in Torvehalleren, guests lined up to purchase cans and cases of the much sought after ‘Heady Topper’ shipped from The Alchemist in Vermont.

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While driving to what would be the new home of Mikkeller San Diego I noticed some people running alongside the highway. I immediately recognized Mikkel Bjergsø, a distinguishable figure in the micro brewing world. I would say he was pretty easily recognizable since A.) In America no one would be walking, let alone be running on a highway B.) He is basically on the cover of every Danish publication and C.) He was rocking a Mikkeller singlet. Apparently he and a few others ran all the way from their hotel to the brewery as a warm up. Not to mention he previously ran over 20 miles in San Francisco a couple days earlier. I would later learn how much of a running machine this man was.

 

As I pulled into the brewery lot, a site acknowledged in the San Diego beer community as the former AleSmith brewery, other runners began to gather. I took a quick peak inside the brewery which was pretty modest to what I was expecting, however had a huge outdoor space. I loved the mural by Keith Shore who is the Art Director of Mikkeller and does most of their iconic labels.

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By 10:15 about 80 people showed up, and after taking a team picture we hit the road for a 5-10k run. It was a very hot and dry day and I was running at a pretty good pace in the lead group trailing just behind Chief Operations Officer of Mikkeller, Jacob Alsing. Alsing is a former military officer who I have met back in Copenhagen at Mikkeller’s Ramen to Biiru in Nørrebro, and since then have become friends with. (Note: a new Ramen to Biiru is opening in Vesterbro soon) Within the past five years, Mikkeller has grown with a ‘Think Globally, Drink Locally’ mindset. Collaborations such as Warpigs with Indiana’s 3floyds in Kødbyen have become quite successful ventures. It has even been recently announced that Mikeller is hosting a Copenhagen Beer Celebration in Boston, Massachusetts this September.

Mikkel and Søren, Mikkeler Running Club’s Head, were leading the pack, but then fell behind to take some pictures. The next thing I knew these two very tall shadows cast over me. I needed a break from the sun’s rays but the coolness simply teased me as they ran past me again.

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I got back to the brewery and was delighted to see beers lined up at the counter. A Blonde and an IPA. I went for the Blonde as I thought it would be more palatable for hydration purposes. It was the best beer I had in that occasion. Very drinkable with subtle hop character and a bit of lemony sweetness. Once I finished, Jacob encouraged me to grab an IPA as more runners came in.IMG_7750

The place was bustling and I thought that if this is how it is at 11AM, imagine what it’s going to be like at the opening. I got to know more about the company as I spoke with some of the Danes who travelled for the opening.

For such an international renowned company, they are roughly 10 staff in an office near Copenhagen Central Station. Most made it out for this celebration, but it was still work mode for them. Mikkeller is hoping to open a taproom in Los Angeles in the next couple months and the staff, who only got in that Wednesday, where already all over the West Coast for site visits.IMG_7755

I sat down with Mikkel, Søren, and Jacob at a table that was full of bottles gifted from a lot of the runners. Mikkel reconnected with a friend from college that he hadn’t seen in over 20 years. I learned that he actually went to school in America; an undergrad at Kansas State (on a running scholarship). We drank sours from Japan and laughed about how they were all about to take part in this again in a couple hours.

As for me, I head to hit the road and traffic back to LA. But I had a really hyggelit time and can’t wait to see what is in store for new ventures closer to me.IMG_7757 copy