Quick Take: While lacking complexity, Mikkeller’s 1000 IBU beer is much more refined than I anticipated. The 1000 IBU aspect is a bit of a gimmick and the cost is a little steep, but the follow through on a quality, mega-hopped beer makes this one worth trying. You have to be in an IPA state of mind and want the dirtiest, most lingering hops bitter finishes I have come across yet, but even IPA interested people can find something to like here.
Brew Facts: IBU refers to International Bittering Unit, which is a standard for measuring the alpha acids (bitterness) from hops. The human tongue tops out at around 100 to 120 IBUs, so a 1000 is going to be imperceptible and purely theoretical. Regardless of the true IBU level, it also matters when the hops were added to the boil. An 80 IBU beer where the hops were added at the beginning of a 60 minute boil is going to taste far bitterer than a beer that reached that same 80 IBU level by adding an abundance of hops in the last 10 minutes of the boil. So hitting a theoretical 1000 IBUs can happen in multiple stages throughout the boil, where the bittering hops (as opposed to the aroma/flavor hops) contribute a much smaller part of the overall hop alpha acids.
Appearance: The look of the beer is fairly unremarkable. It presents cloudy and protein-filled with some amber clarity around the edges. The lacing, however, is one for the record books. Strands of lace cling to the glass like a beer-soaked murder scene. You could weave a doily from this latticework of white foam. Perhaps I’m overstating the case, but the head is immense. The decent head retention eventually softens to a lump of creamy foam covering the murky brew.
Aroma: Stanky dank hops, pine/citrus, and resin. Amazingly hop-centric aroma that is dominated by earthy hops to a level that almost exceeds pure hops themselves. Not something altogether new, but a muddled mash up of musty (alliteration!) hops with a hint of sweet malt and bread. I’m a fan of the aroma, but it doesn’t have the clarity nor does it reach the polleny/floral hop heights of a Heady Topper or Enjoy By.
Taste/Mouth Feel: Thick, malty sweet and enamel destroying hop that feels like it strips the lining out of my mouth. The limitations of the tongue may prevent you from fully perceiving the intensity of the extreme IBUs, but they make their presence known. The bitterness interjects itself early with a citrus resin and rides through to a soapy and dirty bitter. Palate smacking grapefruit and malt hangs out underneath the cacophony of hops swirling above it. Once the hop coating is done sliding through your mouth, the finish is pretty clean and dry, with the resin resurfacing. Licking your lips presents a sticky hop like you have the cones stuck to your lips. Not particularly complex and skips past the sweeter malt character quickly, but works as a bitter beer. If it isn’t apparent, the hops are…aggressive.
Final Thoughts: While lacking complexity, Mikkeller’s 1000 IBU beer is much more refined than I anticipated. My expectations were for a one-note, oafish dump of hops with nothing else to offer and I was surprised by the resin, citrus/orange, and overall drinkability of it. Certainly one of the more bitter beers I have ever had, but not so much so that I feel it is the bitterest (that honor may go to Founders Devil Dancer). The 1000 IBU aspect is a bit of a gimmick and the cost is a little steep, but the follow through on a quality, mega-hopped beer makes this one worth trying. You have to be in an IPA state of mind and want the dirtiest, most lingering hops bitter finishes I have come across yet, but even IPA interested people can find something to like here.
Second Thoughts (Chris): Even though I’m not a hop head, it’s obnoxious and I like it. It’s a one trick pony beer that isn’t super deep, but ends up being enjoyable to someone that isn’t into the west coast hop. It’s a pretty honest beer, but a novelty.