Beer Review 0414: Mikkeller Mexas Ranger Spiced Beer
Mikkel Borg Bjergsø is THE gypsy brewer. Mikkeller, based in Vesterbro, Copenhagen, was founded by Bjergsø and his friend Kristian Keller as the result of kitchen homebrewing experiments. Keller would depart early, but the name Mikkeller stuck.
Without an official physical brewery, Mikkeller produces beer on location, and the reputation of said brews are stellar. Many of these collaboration efforts involve Belgium’s de Proef Brouwerij, of which today’s beer, Mexas Ranger, is from.
Mikkeller has become known for its use of strange ingredients — this beer doesn’t shy away from that reputation. Mexas Ranger is brewed with spices, almond milk, cocoa, chilies, black beans, and avocado leaves. Yeah, if your eyebrow is raised, you aren’t alone. I know I made a nasty face when I saw the ingredient list, but I quickly remembered all the other Mikkeller beers I’ve tried, and my mind became a bit more open. Coming in at just 6.6% ABV (alcohol by volume), this beer really doesn’t have a style, but I’m assigning it to the Herb/Spice Beer category.
The pour delivered a large, creamy head that was very dense and had lasting quality. The color of the beer was very dark brown, just a shade away from being jet black. It was opaque, but had lighter cocoa edges when held to the light. The body seemed to be clear and free of particles and sediment, while the lacing was excellent, leaving behind pods of dark brown suds. A fine looking beer!
For all those added ingredients, they don’t show up in the aroma — this is a complete wash of solid chocolate and coffee flavors, with some general roasted notes. There are touches of a light smoke, perhaps from the chilies, and some dark fruits like raisin and fig. The chocolate notes are complex, dark and bold paired with the coffee. Mexas Ranger truly smelled like an Imperial Stout — deep and very expressive.
The taste proves to be both surprising and exciting. Right away, the dark fruits team with a mildly spicy chili and work some initial magic. The heat from the chili quickly fades, leaving layers of dark chocolate, a hit of grape, and lots of coffee. The coffee and chocolate dominate until the finish, which brings on a heavy bitterness, washing off the tongue and leaving lingering notes of black coffee, dark candy bar chocolate, grapefruit, and pine. The beer is full-bodied, with a thick, creamy mouthfeel and low carbonation.
Out of all those ‘odd’ flavors, the only ones that really made a presence were the chili and cocoa. Perhaps the almond milk and black beans added to the creamy texture. The most amazing thing about this brew (and it is amazing) is the depth of the flavors versus the alcohol content. At 6.6%, this tastes like a 10% Imperial Stout — Mexas Ranger could hold its own with the most imperial of stouts. To me, that shows how skilled the brewer is. Impressive.
Mikkeller Mexas Ranger Spiced Beer, 93 points. Price: This beer was a gift to me, received through a beer club membership I got at Christmas 2012.