If you are a true craft beer fan and have never heard of Danish gypsy brewer Mikkeller you must have been living under a rock for a few years. Mikkeller started in 2006 when homebrewers Mikkel Borg Bjergsø and Kristian Klarup Keller decided to join forces and challenge the boundaries of craft brewing. Mikkeller soon got the reputation as a “phantom” or “gypsy” because they brew at a several different breweries and don’t house a brewery of their own. Instead of a brewery, Mikkeller uses its world famous Mikkeller bar in Copenhagen as its base for wacky new experiments. Since 2006, Mikkeller has brewed more unique beers than any other brewery eclipsing the 400 mark. Mikkeller has made a name for itself for its use of unique barrel woods and the use of ingredients as odd as hot peppers and civetcat coffee (coffee harvested after ingestion and excretion from civetcats, a weasel like creature).
Fra Til Christmas Porter is an 8% ABV Imperial/Baltic Porter by style brewed at De Proefbrouwerij in Belgium. The name is actually means From, To and the label is fashioned as a label on a Christmas present. Fra Til is brewed with a blend of unique spices as well as cassonade sugar.
Gently pouring this into a glass I am met with some of the most absurdly foamy, whipped head making it quite difficult to salvage a decent pour. After settling down a bit, Fra Til coats the glass with a ton of outrageous mocha coloured lacing. The body is an entirely opaque ebony black with a dying head of dark tan. Giving the glass a swirl, a solid stream of bubbles poke their way through the now thin cap of appetizing tan head. The first scent off the nose I get is a seriously intense roasted malt with huge chocolate and espresso notes. A hint of woody smoke, with a light spice blend including subtle scent of anise and gingerbread. The aroma is so appetizing and enticing with the warmth of a true Christmas ale.
Like a Baltic Porter or Imperial Porter should have, Fra Til has alot of sweetness and a syrupy mouthfeel throughout. A strong roasted malt character with pronounced anise, vanilla and a solid amount of a smoked malt blends well with a brown sugar and its accompanying sweetness. The spice notes are somewhat lost in the mix with a rather fervent smoke and ash flavour that drys the palate out towards the finish. The finish is rather sweet at first but a slow astrigency drys the palate and leaves a robust roast and smoked malt in the back of my mouth. This is an absurdly well crafted Baltic Porter with a unique Mikkeller twist; the robust smoked malts as well as the anise and gingerbread spices. That being said the sweetness and syrupy dark malts are spot on stylistically. Fra Til warms my heart on yet another chilly December evening.
Grade: 92/100 Price: $10.99