I have this friend Bill. He has very good taste. Remarkably similar to mine, in fact. Except that he has trouble with American beer. American craft beer, to be more precise. And to further narrow the confines of precision, he has trouble with American hopping.It’s one of the few things Bill and I disagree on. If I were to speak for Bill for a moment, I’d tell you there are fewer things he likes more than watching the England bowlers laying into the Australian batting while quietly sipping a perfectly presented pint of cask-conditioned ale. That is, Bill sips the ale, Broad, Anderson, and Swann do the laying into of the Aussies. Not for Bill the citrus and pine attack of an IPA from the North West Coast of America. And especially not the grapefruit hop bombs of, say, San Diego. No, he is more in favour of what he might call the subtler charms of Felinfoel Double Dragon. A preference for the spinner’s guile over the fast bowler’s bombast. Good job the US doesn’t produce fast bowlers, or I’d make this cricket metaphor go even further.
Bill would not have approved, either.
A single bottle of Mikkeller’s Jackie Brown came as a welcome restorer of my faith. Newcastle Brown it certainly isn’t. Mikkeller’s take on brown ale is distinct: malt and hops: nutty, toffee-roasted malt backbone, on top of which the citrus hops sing as though in the corner of the kitchen, someone has emptied a bag of Sunburst sweets into a blender. (Or Opal Fruits – if you are old enough to remember The Beatles.)
Of course, being a Mikkeller, Jackie Brown is well-hopped with American hops. But as is the case with the best new European beers, the hops are integrated into a balanced whole. Jackie Brown wouldn’t kill Bill.The obvious food pairing would be a chocolate dessert, but I’d like to try it with BBQ ribs, roast pork with a honey and mustard glaze (and chili?). Even though it’s not nominally an Easter ale, it would fit well into that Scandinavian tradition. I wouldn’t mind another bottle as my Easter Egg, and maybe another for Bill while we watch England throw away a commanding lead on the final day against Sri Lanka. Would it convince him about American hops? Now, that would be the final test.