Stella tasting at beer geek paradise

Hello readers! After a massively long absence I’m back! I don’t quite know why but fitting in time to blog has been a massive challenge in recent months. Now that it’s almost summer, I guess this is where the fun starts and I’ll be updating my blog with more tales of beery adventures. The first big event for me was the Copenhagen Beer Celebration which showcases some of the very best breweries from around the world. As well as the two-day festival, the events during the weeks either side just keep getting better and better. The bars hosted tap takeovers, meet the brewer events and even a book launch. I took advantage of a rare opportunity to see where the magic happens and have a try of Stella 0-5 at Mikkeller HQ.
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We began (obviously) with Stella 0. Only 1300 hand numbered magnum bottles in total were produced for the Danish beer-festival back in 2009 and also as a tribute to Mikkel’s daughter. It is a mix between a barley wine, a double India pale ale and an American strong ale. The first thing to note about Stella 0 was the rich honey and malt in the aroma which meant the incredibly bitter hops were a bit of a surprise. The huge hops gave way to a very woody, mature finish with a hint off burnt caramel that was just enough to round it off without being too sweet.
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So following on from 0 came Stella 1 of which only 1170 bottles were ever produced, again for the Danish beer festival. Billed as an ‘imperial porter with a difference,’ I wondered what this ‘difference’ could be when I heard grumblings of a ‘wet dog’ aroma around the table. As the bottle made its way round to me I was inclined to agree. But what a beautiful beer – rich, dark brown with a thick tan head. Ignoring the ‘aroma,’ the flavor was all about the roasty dark malt. It actually had a bit of an alcoholic burn on the tongue with the sweetness all the way at the back.
Next came Stella 2 and our bottle was actually number 200 of a second bottling of only 200 magnums. It’s a sour aged on white wine barrels which I was kinda not thrilled about since I’ve not been that impressed by white wine barrel aging in general of late. This was the beer to change my mind. With a cutting sour, almost vinegar aroma, it was a real stark contrast to the richness of 2. The sour cranberry flavor was super sharp without being spikey and really deliciously fruity with a sweet finish. According to our guide it wasn’t this sour originally so I guess the time in the bottle has done it good.
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Next came the best of the lot and possibly one of my favorite beers of the weekend, Stella 3. What makes 3 the most awesome Stella of all is that they took the already exceptional Black aged it several times on Eagle Rare bourbon barrels (which also worked well for Texas Ranger). It was so incredible they could only produce 170 bottles making it the most limited edition of the series and it’s also had the longest barrel aging and has the highest ABV. It looked pretty hypnotically dark with a really really deep tan head and the amazing sweet bourbony, nutty aroma was drifting around the table before the bottle even reached me.  The alcohol was warming in the way that bourbon is but there was also the satisfyingly bitter hoppy ending. So smooth and well rounded by that gorgeous vanilla sweetness and bitter black cherries throughout.
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Stella 4 was another hugely dark beer with a massively indulgent foamy head and for me it came close second behind number 3. It’s a dreadfully decadent, chewy milk stout with a bready malt aroma and so much sweetness it’s almost sticky. Interestingly, this is the only milk stout by Mikkeller that has been barrel aged so far. Interesting because it turned out so damned good for sitting in those Grand Manier barrels for 6 months. Limited to 558 bottles, I’m so glad to have one of these sitting in the kitchen for a very special occasion!
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So, the last two were brand the brand new never-before-seen Stella 5, a stout with blackthorne and Polly, a sea-buckthorne stout, both limited to 800 bottles each. 5 was another beautifully dark beer but with a pretty thin head. A gorgeous color to look at with an unusual fruit aroma laced with Christmas spices and possibly a little roasted meat. Although the flavor was sweet and fruity with slight sour and spice, something bugged me about the weird meatiness. Unfortunately, Polly also had the same kind of flavor with the addition of sloes to dial up the fruitiness and the sour dialled up just a little more. Now me, I love a challenge. Was this a challenge too far? Maybe. Luckily our ever so lovely guide in this beer adventure was super-generous with the beer and half-finished bottles were being passed around for a long while after the official tasting – I even managed to sneak seconds of the super-rare 3. Thanks so much to Mikkeller HQ for opening your office to us beer geeks and introducing us to some cracking beers – I hope we get another chance to pop in next year!
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Beer Geek Paradise
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