Makin' It: Denmark's Quirky Brewmaster

"A lot of people think what we do is too extreme, to which we say that they are welcome to drink their Carlsberg instead."

Mikkel Borg Bjergsø is the owner and impresario of Mikkeller, one of the most exciting companies making beer in the world today. His brews run the gamut—pilsners, IPAs, bocks, and lambics—and often incorporate a baffling array of techniques—aged in Calvados cognac barrels, infused with jalapenos, and or concocted from playfully mismatched yeasts, malts, and hops. Unabashedly weird, for sure, but also delicious.

Did you start brewing first and venture into eccentric recipes later?

I started drinking specialty beers in the late '90s, and after four or five years I started getting bored. I thought it might be possible to brew more interesting stuff myself.
Is there a method to your madness, an organizing ideology, or is it just come what may? \n
I never feel obligated to brew a beer. The day I do I might as well quit and do something else. Everything I do is driven by the desire to explore new things. When I travel, meet brewers, go to restaurants, and drink beer, I get inspired. From this inspiration comes multiple ideas which turn into beer. I am always behind my ideas and always have at least 10 to 20 new beer recipes in the making. Last year I did 94 new beers, on top of all the repeats. I wasn't even thinking about having to create the next one. They just drop down from somewhere.
Described that way, Mikkeller almost sounds like an artistic pursuit. \n
I wouldn't go as far as calling Mikkeller an art project. In most other aspects of life I am not the most creative. I guess I just found my thing and went from there. I have always been extremely passionate about what I do, from sports—I used to be a middle-distance runner with many Danish championships and a few Danish records—to collecting furniture—I once owned the largest Verner Panton collection in Denmark. Now I do beer.
Tell me how Mikkeller brews. You use the contract-brewing model, basically out-sourcing production, and I'm curious in what ways that frees you up to do certain things. \n
Not having a brewery gives a great freedom when making beer. All I have to do is create a good recipe, go in and make the beer, and not think about paying off big loans, repairing broken equipment, cleaning, and all the rest. Because of this minimal overhead, I never have to think about selling the beer, which gives me great freedom to brew exactly what I want. I never have to compromise in order to market to customers. I also see it this way—if I owned my own brew plant, I would probably hire a brewer to do the manual work anyway and concentrate on the recipes.
How does your wife feel about your job? Does the family ever travel with you? \n
My wife Pernille is of course happy and proud that things are going so well. She is not always happy that I am busy and away so much, but she has learned to live with it. I try not to take them on "business trips" as I am mostly too busy, and I don't want to have them waiting around for me. Instead, we go on vacation regularly where I concentrate more on them and try to work as little as possible. At some point, I'd of course like to have more time with them, and I am sure it will happen eventually. I'm happy to say that I've been hiring more and more people as a result of the growing business.
Speaking of growing business, what is the reception to your beer in Denmark? The Danes have a fairly specific idea of what beer is, and I've heard that you export over 90 percent of all your brews. Is that normal for a company of your size and type?\n
Yeah, we do export 90 percent, which is not normal. From the beginning, we made beers with an "international" focus, meaning we did not make beer aimed at a Danish audience at all. We make beer for more experienced beer drinkers, I guess, and there are not that many of those in Denmark. We do have an ok name in Denmark, but we do not concentrate on the Danish market. Whatever happens here is good, but we honestly don't care too much. A lot of people think what we do is too extreme, to which we say that they are welcome to drink their Carlsberg instead.
Makin' It is the work of journalist Brady Welch and illustrator Skyler Swezy, the team behind\n
via The Howard Stern Show / YouTube

Former Secretary of State, first lady, and winner of the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton, sat own for an epic, two-and-a--half hour interview with Howard Stern on his SiriusXM show Wednesday.

She was there to promote "The Book of Gutsy Women," a book about heroic women co-written with her daughter, Chelsea Clinton.

In the far-reaching conversation, Clinton and the self-proclaimed "King of All Media" and, without a doubt, the best interviewer in America discussed everything from Donald Trump's inauguration to her sexuality.

Keep Reading Show less

Offering parental leave for new fathers could help close the gender gap, removing the unfair "motherhood penalty" women receive for taking time off after giving birth. However, a new study finds that parental leave also has a pay gap. Men are less likely to take time off, however, when they do, they're more likely to get paid for it.

A survey of 2,966 men and women conducted by New America found that men are more likely to receive paid parental leave. Over half (52%) of fathers had fully paid parental leave, and 14% of fathers had partially paid parental leave. In comparison, 33% of mothers had fully paid parental leave and 19% had partially paid parental leave.

Keep Reading Show less

Bans on plastic bags and straws can only go so far. Using disposable products, like grabbing a plastic fork when you're on the go, can be incredibly convenient. But these items also contribute to our growing plastic problem.

Fortunately, you can cut down on the amount of waste you produce by cutting down on disposable products. And even more fortunately, there are sustainable (and cute) replacements that won't damage the environment.

Coconut bowls


Who says sustainable can't also be stylish? These cute coconut bowls were handmade using reclaimed coconuts, making each piece one of a kind. Not only are they organic and biodegradable, but they're also durable, in case your dinner parties tend to get out of hand. The matching ebony wood spoons were polished with the same coconut oil as the bowls.

Cocostation Set of 2 Vietnamese Coconut Bowls and Spoons, $14.99; at Amazon

Solar powered phone charger


Why spend time looking around for an outlet when you can just harness the power of the sun? This solar powered phone charger will make sure your phone never dies as long as you can bask in the sun's rays. As an added bonus, this charger was made using eco-friendly silicone rubber. It's win-win all around.

Dizaul Solar Charger, 5000mAh Portable Solar Power Bank, $19.95; at Amazon, $19.95; at Amazon

Herb garden kit

Planter Pro

Put some green in your life with this herb planter. The kit comes with everything you need to get a garden growing, including a moisture meter that helps you determine if your herbs are getting the right amount of food to flourish. All the seeds included are certified to be non-GMO and non-hybrids, meaning you can have fresh, organic herbs right at your fingertips.

Planter Pro's Herb Garden Cedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazonedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazon

Reusable Keurig cups

K & J

Keurig cups are convenient, but they also create a ton of plastic waste. These Keurig-compatible plastic cups are an easy way to cut down on the amount of trash you create without cutting down on your caffeine. Additionally, you won't have to keep on buying K Cups, which means you'll be saving money and the environment.

K&J Reusable Filter Cups, $8.95 for a set of 4,; at Amazon

Low-flow shower head


Low-flow water fixtures can cut down your water consumption, which saves you money while also saving one of the Earth's resources. This shower head was designed with a lighter flow in mind, which means you'll be able to cut down on water usage without feeling like you're cutting down on your shower.

Speakman Low Flow Shower Head, $14.58; at Amazon

Bamboo safety razor


Instead of throwing away a disposable razor every time you shave, invest in an eco-friendly, reusable one. This unisex shaver isn't just sustainable, it's also sharp-looking, which means it would make a great gift for the holidays.

Zomchi Safety Razor, $16.99; at Amazon

The Planet