Party at Mikkeller's House, Every Hop Invited
A Review of 19 by Mikkeller
Posted on 5/8/2012 by Chops
Sampling a new Mikkeller brew can be a daunting task for better beer fans. It's very much a Forrest Gump kind of situation, i.e. ''you never know what you're going to get''. Appearances are almost always deceiving, style designations are nothing more than general guidelines, and ABVs don't mean a damn thing. In the hands of Mikkeller, even something as gentle as a witbier can beat your taste buds into submission. So going into the 19 IPA, I had to take a few deep breaths before I poured it. I was about to try a beer from a world renowned gypsy brewer that uses 19 different varieties of hops. Sweet mercy.

In the glass, this beer has a deep honey brown coloration. It comes with a rocky tan head that likes to stick around for a while. Not surprisingly, the dominant aroma is a pungent hoppy citrus. When I started to pick it apart, standard hop adjectives like ''piney'' and ''woody'' and ''herbal'' started to come about, then I realized that they are pretty much all present. Think of every hop description in the book and you can find it in this beer. It's an aromatic block party. Serving as a platform is an earthy malt that actually does a good job of asserting itself.

The biggest piece of advice I can give someone trying this beer is to not form an opinion until you get through at least a quarter of it. All the different hop varieties battle for attention, which to the untrained palate comes across as mercilessly bitter. You can't get away from it at any stage of the flavor train, so best to make peace with it. That being said, this beer is a hop enthusiast's dream. I could easily pick out a few varieties, namely the Simcoe sharpness and Citra intensity (which are actually the two dominant percentages). From there it's a free for all with lots of familiar flavors. Because there are so many bitter notes, this beer tastes much stronger than it actually is. There is a richness to it, almost like a cloud of hoppy thickness. The earthy base malt found in the aroma also serves as a good foundation for the hop battle. It's present through the flavor train, but never prominent. It actually picks up a charred woody character that compliments the hop sting quite well. The finish is quite dry, pungently bitter, and lasts for a very long time.

Overall, Mikkeller's 19 IPA is a hop juggernaut, even at a relatively tame 6.8% ABV. Consequently, I can only recommend this brew to seasoned imperial palates. And in reality, I should further refine that to imperial IPA palates. It's a fantastic study in hop nuance and identification, almost like a hop version of ''Where's Waldo''. On the flip side, this beer is just too aggressive for the average drinker. It's not exactly balanced or easy to drink, but neither matters in this case. It's more of an educational tool than a casual drinker. I think every hop head owes it to themselves to try the Mikkeller 19 simply because it's a great taste bud tester.

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19 by Mikkeller
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