There's a great piece in the New York Times about the feud between the twins that brew Evil Twin (Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergso) and Mikkeller (Mikkel Borg Bjergso). At one point, the author of the piece asks another famous brewer about Mikkeller's "unorthodox, prolific creativity." The answer was, for me, the best part of a piece that largely bordered on family gossip at times.
“A bee is intelligent, but if you put it in a bottle and you point the opening of the bottle away from the sun, the bee will only fly toward the sun, and he will never escape. If you put 20 mosquitoes into the bottle instead, they may have no intelligence, but they fly in every direction, and one will be free in two seconds.” Mikkel raised an eyebrow gamely. “So you are saying I’m a mosquito?” he asked.
Calling one of the greatest brewers a mosquito flying around with no intelligence takes confidence, but we know from the piece that confidence is not in short order among brewers. But we've known for a while now at BeerGraphs that there are a few different ways for a brewery to make waves.
Sort our brewery leaderboards for number of beers, and nobody comes close to Mikkeller. Okay, Stone is close, with 185 on the boards to Mikkeller's 199. And if these are two mosquitos, it seems like Stone is perhaps more in tune with the current American zeitgeist -- Stone's top 25 beers outscore Mikkeller's by 40%, and overall, Stone doubles Mikkeller's Beers Above Replacement value. What you can see from our Solid% score is that Stone makes an above-average beer 75% of the time, while Mikkeller only manages that feat 39% of the time. So, in terms of making a great beer every time out, Mikkeller is on par with Green Flash, but when tit comes to making a great beer every once in a while, Mikkeller is a top-five brewery.
We aren't going to legislate the difference between the mosquitos and the bees in craft beer today. Mikkeller's Beer Geek Brunch Weasel is a great beer, and knowing Mikkeller makes great beer like that still is enough to reach for an unknown from them. But a traveler on the road that wasn't ready for disappointment may want the bee. In that case, they'll probably want to sort this list for what's available in their region.
Thanks to Robert Rizzolo and @beertography for the header image.