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05-09-2017, 10:28
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Is this an imperial stout?


So there I am in the tiny Mikkeller (http://mikkeller.dk/) bar in Copenhagen, my first time back since 2011. It’s gone 11 and I want a final beer or two for the night. An imperial stout calls and on the blackboard behind the bar there are two imperial stouts chalked up.


I just want an imperial stout.


However…


One of the them is brewed with Sahti yeast, which is rather interesting and has a soft vinous-like character, you know the jazz shapes that wine can give to beer, a roastiness and a sweetness and a sense of darkness reminiscent of the thoughts of a murderer planning their next killing.


I just want an imperial stout.


However…


The other imperial stout is Imperial Mexican Biscotti Cake Break (http://tenemu.com/news/westbrook-slates-evil-twin-collaboration-imperial-mexican-biscotti-cake-break-for-november/11/2016), a collaboration between Evil Twin (http://eviltwin.dk/) and Westbrook (http://westbrookbrewing.com/) — it is sweet, soft, doughy, biscuity and gently roasty.


Both of them are decent beers and inevitably get good marks from the teachers at Ratebeer (https://www.ratebeer.com/), but as I sit there zoning in and out of the conversation on the next table (has Copenhagen become the new 1920s Paris given the amount of Americans I heard or saw?), that moment, that brace of beers, feels like an infantilisation of beer. Imperial stouts are muscular brutes, hammering away like a leather-clad smith on an anvil — now, they, just like the IPA, have become a laboratory for mad scientists, a dartboard randomly pinned, a ghost style perhaps.


I’m not arguing for an interdiction on beer styles, after all no one made me drink these beers. Instead, what I felt in the Mikkeller bar was an irritation, an utterance of quiet despair, a flight from fantasy. And I was aware of a counter argument going on in my head, beers like this are an example of breweries heading for the open seas, the outer space of brewing imagination, the search for a god, a lodestar of flavour.


As for me I remain genuinely torn by these conflation of beer styles — sometimes I think it is marvellous and creative and a mark of greatness and other times I think it is just Cheddar with chilli or a pizza with chocolate, baby food for adults.



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