Entering the spirit world

It's true, acclaimed brewery Mikkeller has made not only a gin and vodka, but also a wine. Here we look at the how brewers are turning their hands to distillingand winemaking

It used to be that the world of beer and the, ahem, spirit world, rarely crossed over. Largely, brewers were brewers and distillers remained distillers, but the drinks industry in 2016 is nothing if not diverse. In the last decade we’ve seen brewers expand into making gins, vodkas, absinthe, everything really. Over in the US, and never ones to play by the rules, Dogfish Head, Ballast Point, Rogue and Anchor have all been distilling. Dave Thibodeau, co-founder of Ska Brewing, has also recently launched Peach Street Distillery. He told Beer Hawk that there’s more in common than you’d imagine. “Depending on what you’re producing, you may use a similar mashing process, but the beauty of spirits is that much of the time you can have, for lack of a better term, a ‘dirtier’ mash or fermentation due to the fact it will later be distilled. The interesting thing is that the magic of distilling begins after fermentation, whereas much of the magic in brewing is the fermentation process.”

Over in the UK, Adnams has been leading the way, winning a multitude of awards straight from the world go, including ‘the World’s Best Gin’, no less. Head Distiller John McCarthy told Beer Hawk: “The production of our spirits takes place in the same brewhouse and fermentation room as our beers. We use the same grains, water and yeast. BrewDog’s Lone Wolf distillery has also just come online in December 2016.

Another brewer has also delved into making spirits, but with a distinctly beery take, and that’s the Danish gypsy brewer, Mikkeller, never one to compromise. We were so taken with Mikkeller’s gin and dry hop vodka that these are the first spirits we’ve ever stocked.

Along with the usual botanicals of juniper, lemon grass and cardamom, Mikkeller’s Botanical Gin also has US Simcoe hops added for a zesty touch. They reckon it is great in a G&T with a slice of orange or as a sipping gin. Even the Dry Hop Vodka has been blended with Simcoe hops – and they are clearly apparent. This is an exceptionally smooth vodka.

Yet, Mikkeller being Mikkeller, it doesn’t stop at spirits. The latest addition, and another first for us, is wine. Yup, a the Mikkeller Beer Geek Riesling. In the tasting notes designed for the ‘beer geek’ it says: “Beware: it looks a lot lighter than your average stout, it smells like you have just entered the fruit section of a local farmer’s market.” Trust us it’s delicious. The perfect Christmas gifts for the beer lover. Or the wine lover. Or the spirit lover. Anyone really.