This post is a translation - with a few added notes - of a Japanese blog post by our brewer Takayuki Tsutsumino, regarding our soon-to-be-released collaboration beer with Mikkeller. The original post can be found here.
----Translation from Japanese---
Last August, a surprising message suddenly arrived in my inbox. The bringer of this news was Motoki-san from the Whisk-e Limited importing company in Tokyo. As for the surprising news?
You know that world famous phantom brewery, Mikkeller from Denmark, and some little brewery in Hokkaido called North Island? How about doing a collaboration beer?
Thinking about the Mikkeller — I somewhat lost my bearings, and I took a little time to get my head together, but in my heart I replied immediately with a definite yoroshiku onegaishimasu (best translated here perhaps as “Let’s do it!”).
From that point on, preparations moved forward little by little. I began exchanging emails with Mikkeller’s founder Mikkel Borg Bjergsø — sharing ideas and working toward a recipe and other details like the label design. As we emailed back and forth, we began to form a clear concept for the collaboration beer.
Then came the day: December 2nd: With Mikkeller, we brewed a red beer.
Mikkeller x NORTH ISLAND BEER Collaboration Brew
[Haskap Blonde] ABV: 6.6% IBU: 30
The “charisma” of Denmark along with Hokkaido’s North Island Beer: Our collaboration beer.
Following on our well-planned out recipe and a thorough exchange of opinions, the two companies brewed together at North Island’s brewery.
Mikkeller’s found Mikkel began by suggesting that we use a Hokkaido product in the beer. We ended up using the Hokkaido-native Haskap. Haskap, found primarily in Hokkaido and eastern Siberia, is the Lonicera caerulea— or blue-berried hunnysuckle. The word “haskap” is derived from the Ainu language (the Ainu are the the indigenous people of Hokkaido).
The haskap berry looks similar to a blueberry, and is blueish-purple in color, but compared with a blueberry it features much more sourness.
Without restraint, we used a lavish amount of this haskap to create our beer: Haskap Blonde. Thinking of the haskap flavour being expressed as a base, we finalised the recipe by exchanging ideas about the remaining ingredients (varieties of malts and hops) and how to best put everything together.
On top of the wonderful flavor of the haskap, we used a Belgian yeast, resulting in finely expressed deep complexity.
This collaboration beer was created thanks to the two breweries’ ideas, techniques, and cooperation.
We hope you enjoy it!
Unfortunately, the Mikkeller founder Mikkel, with whom I had been working out the final recipe until the last minute, had to suddenly return to Denmark the day before he was set to come to Hokkaido. However, joining our team at the Sapporo Beer Garden for beer and barbecue the night before brew day, was Jacob — Mikkel’s sort-of right-hand-man. Jacob also joined us the next day and helped with the brew. I believe it was a wonderful collaboration brew.
The release is set for next weekend, but could be delayed until early March. Bottles and kegs will be released at the same time.
For orders or questions:
KEGS: North Island Beer
Whisk E Limited
On Sunday, February 22nd, Beer Bar North Island is hosting our monthly “Hirunomi” day-drinking event. The Mikkeller collaboration will get a head start release for this event. Open from noon until 9:00 pm.