While up on San Francisco this past week to meet up with family there was one thing I just had to do while I was there: go to Mikkeller Bar. So we left our son with his grandparents for a couple of hours and took a stroll downhill from Nob Hill down to the Tenderloin. It was a bright and sunny and an absolutely gorgeous spring weather kind of day this past Monday when we went to go visit Mikkeller Bar.
For anyone reading who is not super familiar with Mikkeller, their beers and why I might just be frothing at the mouth over visiting this place; some backstory is in order. Mikkeller started in 2006 when Mikkel Borg Bjergso decided to take his passion for interesting beer and forego the trappings of starting a traditional brick and mortar brewery and instead go with being what is today widely known in brewing circles as being a gypsy brewer – renting space and equipment at existing breweries to create his product. I discovered Mikkeller beers in 2009 when I got to take part in a tasting flight of Mikkeller’s Single Hop IPA’s. 12 IPA’s with the same base recipe with the only variation being each beer had only one hop variety used in it. As a relatively new home brewer at the time it was a revelation to me in how hop strains can be so much like grape varietals in how they shape the nose, flavor and nuance of a beer. I’ll never forget that experience. So fast forward 8 years and 350+ different beer recipes and you have the Mikkeller Bar.
Mikkeller Bar is located at 34 Mason Street in San Francisco http://mikkellerbar.com/ in the sometimes rough and sketchy Tenderloin area of the city. All we had to do was take a short 15 minute walk, sidestep a few panhandlers and some questionable puddles on the sidewalk and we still had to cool our heels for 10 minutes while we waited for them to open for lunch. Mikkeller Bar S.F. opened in July 2013 and has been on my shortlist of beer bars to get myself into s soon as possible since then.
Mikkeller Bar isn’t just a bar it’s also a pretty damn nice gastropub too. But I’ll come back to that in a minute. The interior is nicely paired down, almost minimal in its decorative disposition with exposed brick, black steel girders, stone bar top and a gleaming 42 tap system eagerly awaiting my first order of beer. I think it’s fair to say the Mikkeller Bar probably has the largest selection of Mikkeller brewed beers on tap anywhere in the country. Oh, and did I mention they have an extraordinarily well curated tap list of beers from some of the best breweries in the world? Yeah, they have that too. But wait, don’t order yet! It goes a bit further; most of the offerings on tap at Mikkeller Bar are so rare as to be practically unique as many of the beers that do get on tap are in 5 gallon kegs. On any given day you could have a change-up of 2 to 6 taps and monthly you could see 20 to 25 taps rotating out. What that means for you is that if you’re visiting like I was you’re certain to find something you’ve never had before and might not see again. Also the Mikkeller Bar tap list is arranged by what temperature your beer is poured at for an optimal tasting experience.
On to the food and beer! We each had one their house made sausages. Amelia had the Loukanika: pork, lamb, cucumber, mint, with caraway yogurt. I had the Muffuletta: mortadella dog, olive salad, provolone, topped with crispy salami. And yes, they both tasted as amazing as they sound.
But the grub would not be complete without the beer. I like big beers and I cannot lie… I’m not usually one for session-able beers and the tap list here at Mikkeller did not disappoint (and hell, we weren’t driving anyway…) and it turned out to be an all-Mikkeller beer kind of day. Amelia had: Orange Yuzu Glad I Said Porter an American Porter brewed with Yuzu 6% ABV and Limoncello a Tart Imperial IPA breed with Sorachi Ace hops 9% ABV. I had Arh Hvad?! A Brett Saison aged in St. Emillion barrels 6.8% ABV and Big Worster a Chardonnay barrel aged Barley Wine 18.3% ABV. We both shared Mikkeller Black and Imperial Stout 17.5% ABV.
One last thing, Mikkeller Bar also has a criminally ridiculous reserve bottle list if the 42 taps just aren’t doing it for you. Here’s a highlight from that list for you to ponder and salivate over: Mikkeller Black Fist an “extreme imperial stout aged for 2 years in 10-year-old bourbon barrels. 26.1% ABV 375mL Only available for purchase to parties of 3 or more.” Damn…