Mikkeller No. 50 — Helsinki

Perhaps a fitting place to begin this exercise in culinary journaling is with a trip to the 50th outpost of Copenhagen’s beloved Mikkeller Brewing.

The world of craft beer is changing and some of the titans of the industry are far from small now, yet they can’t be faulted for their success. Mikkeller has built a worldwide reputation for excellent beer and hospitality. With multiple bars in their hometown of Copenhagen, but also in San Francisco, Tokyo, and other European outposts they have spread the message of beer excellence to the masses of discerning hipsters and other craft beer lovers around the world.

On a cold and damp November evening I made my way across Helsinki to find the small tap room. I settled in for a beer in the barely furnished, but cozy room. The Danish idea of Hygge is a common denominator across all of the Mikkeller locations that I have been to, and despite being the 50th location in their empire, the staff and atmosphere manage to make this feel like it is the only one. A unique and intimate beer outpost in a world more concerned with profitability.

The reality is that with 50 locations, Mikkeller is still tiny in comparison to the Goliath’s of the beer world.

The more obvious part of what makes Mikkeller great is the beer itself. A mix of perennial favourites from the ever-changing lineup at their home brewery in Copenhagen, with additions from other breweries both worldwide and local. I can never remember which beers I drank too long after the fact, but perhaps that is the point.

Great beer is a social lubricant, and a way to relax and enjoy life — even when, or especially when, travelling alone. The memory for me is more of a sensory one.

It’s about atmosphere and the feeling that you were welcome, and part of a movement, even if only for a night. The beer itself is in many ways incidental.

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