A taste of something new: Mikkeller comes to Bangkok
*The following content was produced for Asia Eater Magazine and was published online February 13 2014. Video, images and article by Meredith C. Browne*
There are two things that brought Jacob Mørkenborg Rasmussen and Mike MacDonald together: an enthusiasm for beer and a respect for innovation. The business partners met a few years ago—Rasmussen had been importing foreign beers and holding numerous events that Mike MacDonald, a self-described beer connoisseur, would regularly attend.
Today, they are partners in Mikkeller Bangkok and their goals for the establishment are as innovative as the Danish beer brand’s history.
“My partner and I are both in this business less so from a financial perspective and more so from a beer culture perspective,” MacDonald said. “We really wanted to build something that we would go to every night.”
Mikkeller Bangkok is the first and only Asian outlet of acclaimed Danish beer brewer, Mikkeller. There are three other venues in the world, two are located in Copenhagen and the third is in San Francisco.
The microbrewery is named after the owner, Mikkel Borg Bjergsø. As the world’s first “gypsy brewer,” Mikkel travels to other breweries and brews his beer on their system. Without personal brewing equipment, every beer created by Mikkel is a collaboration with another brewery. He is consistently rated one of the best brewers in the world and most recently picked up the title as the top brewer in Denmark.
According to MacDonald, Mikkel’s brews are unique because, “he’s not afraid to combine all kinds of strange ingredients.” The statement is illustrated by creations like Beer Geek Brunch Weasel, a specialty beer combined with an exotic and expensive gourmet coffee, as well as the Mexas Ranger, a chipotle porter that has been aged in tequila barrels.
Hailing from a traditional beer town in England, Adam Purcell appreciates the experimentative nature of Mikkeller beers. He explained, “Each time you have a beer in a place like this it’s a bit of discovery, and it makes it exciting especially somewhere like Bangkok where they’ve been stocked for years with the same local beers that have been served with ice.”
Though the taste of Mikkeller is new for some, it’s a taste of home for Kristin Durant. The Danish native commented, “It wasn’t that first thing that I thought I would have missed being away from home, but now that it’s here it’s great to be able to come by and have some quality beer.”
Apart from the brews, Mikael Hemniti Winther, the Danish ambassador to Thailand, recognised symbols of Denmark within Mikkeller Bangkok’s atmosphere. “The concept here is not a silly beer drinking place,” Winther remarked. “There is all of the artistic and simplistic. It’s open and bright and I think that portrays a lot about the spirit of our country.”
Coinciding with Mikkel’s knack for innovation, Mikkeller Bangkok has a special feature. Normally, bars have a cold room in order to keep drinks at a proper temperature. In order to prevent the beers from becoming warm, lines run directly from the cooling room to the taps.
“What we’ve done differently is we’ve actually installed the taps directly on the cold room wall, ” MacDonald revealed. “It’s incredibly efficient, we have very little wastage. The beer is served fresher and it’s served at exactly the appropriate temperature.”
Apart from its liquid temptations, Mikkeller Bangkok also offers a small bar menu of various cold cut and cheese platters featuring bread and meats from local artisanal producers Joe Sloane and Maison Jean Philippe, respectively. A professional standard kitchen is in the pipeline and, with that, potentially some pop up dinners, revealed MacDonald.
Since its opening at the end of January, Mikkeller Bangkok has seen some customers return every night for a taste of something different. Aiming to create an environment where no night is ever the same, the bar features 30 different beer styles from Mikkeller as well as other great producers from around the world. In some instances, the menu features the last keg in the world of a particular brew in hopes of instilling a sense of immediacy in consumers.
“It’s a totally different vibe or feel for what you might otherwise think of as a bar,” MacDonald said, alluding to the lack of strobe lights and cramped corners. “We’re not really going for a bar vibe, were going for more of a sort of educated beer connoisseur culture.”