Crazy, Fun Craft Beer

“It was amazing to make beer with my childhood idol, a crazy idea that turned into a good friendship.”

Photo by Mikkeller ApS.

Boring beer is not allowed in Mikkeller Bar London, but this is not your average bar on the block in London’s Shoreditch.  This is a showcase and perfect pairing for legendary pop star Rick Astley and Mikkel Borg Bjergsø, founder of iconic Danish craft beer – Mikkeller, both prominently revered in their fields with a cult following that positively pulls enthusiastic customers into the bar. 

Memories of October’s opening event still linger of pop and beer fans alike jostling to see Rick’s live performance, and grabbing a can of newly brewed ‘Astley’s London Lager’ as a memento.  Hot on the heels of ‘Astley’s Northern Hop’, this is the duo’s second foray brewing beer together, both of which have a special place in Mikkeller’s ’hall of fame’.  The bar’s design is smoothly Scandinavian in colour and style, pop magic touches are used with Rick’s lyrics, and a neon illustration of Astley blended with Mikkeller’s branding. 

A self-confessed “huge fan” of Rick Astley, Mikkel chased a rumour that Rick and his Danish wife lived in Copenhagen, he contacted Rick, who resides in London, and an instant hit was made.  “It was amazing to make beer with my childhood idol, a crazy idea that turned into a good friendship.  When I first met Rick, he was an English bloke who goes to the pub once in a while with friends, and doesn’t think about what he’s drinking, but after working together he fell in love with craft beer.  Now, we enjoy working together and hanging out in a bar, it’s a crazy, fun situation.”

Mikkel never imagined his current lifestyle experiences of “travelling the world, good food & drink, and meeting amazing people”, but great things were borne of his love of craft beer.  From home-brewing in his kitchen, enthusiasm for people to experience the breadth of tastes and styles prompted the decision to quit his teaching job - “everything happened organically, and things have been going well ever since.  Doing something I love, that is a hobby, is a good situation to be in despite not having much free-time.” 

With an impressive array of 1,800 craft beers under his belt, Mikkel doesn’t strive for innovation but collaboration “we travel and gather inspiration from people we speak with, and follow beer trends.  Being very curious, we want to showcase good beer, a new beer, there is so much more we can do with beer in the world.”  In a world brimming with beers and breweries competition is steep, but Mikkel sees “colleagues not competitors, working closely to share ideas and help one another out.”  This progressive outlook helped Mikkeller become established in 43 worldwide locations,

Why has it taken so long for the ‘Great Dane’ to launch in Great Britain?  “London’s been a top priority as Britain’s got the longest beer-making history, and had great beer for many years before Denmark, with so many breweries and experimental hobby beers, the Brits have a really interesting take on craft beer and are open-minded.  We’ve been looking for a while, but hadn’t found the right location and the right partner.”  And why Shoreditch? “It’s trendy, not too posh or high-end but has good bars and a good atmosphere, similar to where I live in Copenhagen’s Vesterbro.  It has the right mix of young people and people who care about good quality fashion, food and drink.”

Consuming the finest craft beers and quality food affected Mikkel’s waistline, “I gained weight and felt unhealthy, I knew I had to exercise to continue enjoying the lifestyle and drinking beer.  When I was young, I was a lead runner but quit training as it was no longer fun.  In my mind I’ve always been a runner, so started running again with a friend who’d quit smoking, we’d run and drink a beer together as an end goal.”  Mikkeller Running Club London provides a rewarding free beer for runners at the finishline, “it’s a social way of uniting people as they can make new friends, run and drink great craft beer together.” 

Mikkel wants to show the world how great craft beer is, and that it’s a fun experience to be part of, so run to Mikkeller Bar London.

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