Decibel Metal & Beer Fest Brewery Profile: Mikkeller

Copenhagen, Denmark
Start Date: 2006
Signature Metal Beer: Nuclear Hop Assault

The bands that will be performing at the upcoming Decibel Metal & Beer Fest on April 22-23 in Philadelphia are no doubt familiar to Decibel readers, but we wanted to shine a little light on the craft beer underground by spotlighting the breweries that will be pouring their beers at the festival. Mikkeller, the only European brewery invited to participate in the festival, is the subject of our latest profile. We got double teamed by the brewery’s Copenhagen-based events and communications manager Mixen Lindberg and none other than extreme music legend Danny Lilker, the brewery’s de facto U.S. rep (along with his wife, Heather Gray).

Has opening the WarPigs brewpub in Copenhagen with Three Floyds, helped raise Mikkeller’s profile with the metal crowd?
: I think so, yes. At this point [Three Floyds] is almost a household name within the metal scene, with all the band collaboration beers they’ve made over the years, their Dark Lord Day beer and music fest, and with most parts of their graphic identity, which looks like a lost collection of bad-ass heavy metal album covers. They also have a knack for coming up with very metal-sounding names.

So even though we were releasing beers together with our pals in Mastodon and Nuclear Assault around the same time WarPigs was launched, the buzz of opening the first brewpub of this kind in Europe, and with Three Floyds as partners, it most likely helped boost our profile with the metal heads.

Are there other metal-themed beers like Nuclear Hop Assault and Mastodon Mother Puncher planned for the future?
: Mastodon just came out of the studio after completing work on their upcoming album, so now it’s out turn to head into our brewery in San Diego for something quite unique. I can’t reveal anything at this point, but the beer will be themed according to what Mastodon have planned this time around, which is going to be epic. Motherpuncher, a Farmhouse IPA with passionfruit, was great and all, but we’re really stepping it up a notch with this next beer.

Danny, how did you hook up with Mikkeller to do the Nuclear Hop Assault beer?
: I have an old friend in Copenhagen, Anderz Nielsen, in a band called President Fetch, who would let Brutal Truth rehearse in their spot when necessary. I would always look him up whenever I was in town. After discovering Mikkeller, I would tell him every time to meet me at the Mikkeller bar in the Vesterbro neighborhood. One day, he said, “If you enjoy Mikkeller beer this much, why don’t you see if they will brew a beer for one of your bands?” I didn’t know anybody that worked at Mikkeller, but Anderz did. Next thing you know I received an email from Mixen, so Nuclear Assault, who were doing shows at the time, turned out to be the perfect band for this idea. One thing led to another and Nuclear Hop Assault sprung into existence and was released in conjunction with Nuclear Assault’s appearance at the Copenhell festival. It’s an extremely tasty Imperial IPA

What’s your role representing Mikkeller in the U.S. now?
Danny: We’ll be representing Mikkeller at beer fests here in the States, where we will pour beer, answer questions about the different types of beer that Mikkeller will have there and just generally be their U.S. public face at these fests. I say “we” because my wife Heather will be working along side me. So, Team Lilker will be coming to Philly!

Was there a specific beer that you can remember that turned you on to good beer (craft beer)?
: More a specific person: Jocke “Dr.” Carlsson from General Surgery. We’ve been bros for over 10 years now, and some time earlier this decade he made a trip here to Rochester before we went to Maryland Deathfest together. We took him to a place here called Beers Of the World and he filled up a shopping cart Leaving Las Vegas-style with a large assortment of craft beer that would have been hard to find and/or incredibly expensive in Sweden, where he’s from. On his insistence I tried various IPAs and that was it—no more crappy Labatt Blues or Budweisers for me. Things have come full circle as Jocke is now the guitar player for Stormtroopers of Beer, our little S.O.D. cover band, along with Adde from General Surgery on drums. We played outside of War Pigs during the Copenhagen Beer Celebration festival weekend last May. Stormtroopers of Beer will also be appearing at this year’s editions of the Maryland Deathfest and Obscene Extreme in Czech Republic. And the vocalist of S.O.B. is actually a Mikkeller employee, Kenneth Reby, so that is another tie-in with Mikkeller in general.

Anything else you’d like to add?
: I’d like to express how thankful and excited we are to be a part of Decibel Metal & Beer Fest, and that we will be bringing our A game on both the beer side and the rep side with Team Lilker.

For tickets to Decibel Metal & Beer Fest, go here.