Gawd, I can remember the depressing blurgh of this all too well. I’m trying my best to catch up to the actual Diary, but the value of t still stands at fifty-something days, and the memory remains uncomfortably raw. I bought this on the same shopping trip that netted the Coconut Porter and ‘Big Swell’ IPA from Maui Brewing, so it was in good company, and the Mikkeller beers I’ve had before have been marvellous. Smart money might look like it was on this being at least enjoyable, but it just wasn’t.
The overall sensory impression was: something is wrong. It’s difficult to pinpoint just how it rang my internal alarm bells, or quite what it most resembled — the plasticky, papery awfulness of a rain-soaked piece of junkmail; the unexpected sudden wrongness of distractedly biting too far down a piece of melon and accidentally eating a big chunk of that thick, terrible skin; the horrific vegetal funk that wafts around the kitchen when you finally get around to cleaning out the bottom drawer of the fridge. Maybe all of those, and more. I suspect that bits of my brain have charitably done a spot of cleaning house, pruning the neurons that remember the specific horror, just leaving enough of the general memory to be going on with.
Not that I’m blaming the beer; I can’t — I just don’t know what the Hell went wrong. There were a few complications in this thing’s life before it horrified me so, ranging from the immediately-recent to the possibly-long ago:
- It fountained like crazy when I popped the cap. That’s never a good sign, and could be down to a few things — two possibilities for which we’ll get to — but my previous Mikkeller, the ‘Jackie Brown’ which I had on Boxing Day last year, was also enthusiastically bubbly… Moreso than this, but the memory of the other one being initially-worrying but perfectly fine was enough to stop me freaking out.
- Just like that previous Jackie Brown, this was a “grey market import”. Such things have a historical reputation for at-least-imperfect / possibly-outright-dodgy handling, and a rough enough trip over from the other side of the planet could make something go sufficiently wrong to account for both the foam and the yuck. The problem being, of course, that you just don’t know. Maybe something went wrong in transit, maybe something was wrong with this bottle before it left the brewery, or maybe the beer entire is just pants. Who knows?
- And this poor, unfortunate bottle in particular suffered a fridge-fall a few days earlier. Sitting at the outside edge of the bottom shelf inside the door, the physics and the leverage conspired against it and hurled it out and onto the floor after my flatmate, in hunger-induced enthusiasm, opened the fridge too fast. Ordinarily, a few days undisturbed would be more than enough to calm it down — but perhaps things were worse than they appeared; maybe the cap was dinged enough to ruin its seal, letting in something funkifying or just a whole bunch too much Oxygen. Again: who knows?
I had to check / bluff / Google the funny-speak (i.e., the Danish) on the label to make double-sure that nothing weird and ripe for mere-subjectivity-based dislike was meant to be going on. But no. Just a nice big American-hopped pale ale, with a dose of oats thrown in for texture, presumably. Sounds fab — more’s the pity about this bottle. Ah well.
Addendum: (My second addendum in as many days, weirdly.) Since this post has been referenced in Hashigo’s ‘Rungs on the Ladder’ newsletter — as Dom was talking about grey market imports, making points which I’m totally on board with — I feel I should be extra-honest and up-front about the provenance of this beer, decoding the note in my handwritten Diary: my ‘Stateside’ came from the New World Thorndon supermarket, and carried a sticker showing it’d been imported by BeerStore.co.nz. I’ve had fantastic beers from New World and BeerStore, and both acting in concert; but that’s just the point, duds like this are the ineliminable risk involved — caveat emptor, bigtime.
Verbatim: Mikkeller ‘Stateside’ 19/4/11 330ml $10 @ NWT, 7% Bought together with the Mauis. And a lesson in the difficulty of ‘reviewing’ something. This was a) a grey import, b) the victim of a fridge-drop a few days ago, and c) a fountain when it opened. There’s something ‘off’ about it, but I have no idea what’s at fault for that. Should be lovely, given the pitch + maker. But it’s not. And that’s bloody depressing.