Mikkeller is one of the microbrewery world’s biggest success stories. The name is the portmanteau combination of its two founders – Mikkel Borg Bjergsø and Kristian Klarup Keller – though Keller parted ways with the company soon after it started its expansion over a decade ago. I’ve only ever been to a couple of their bars in Copenhagen and one in Berlin but it seems there’s no stopping their global ambitions.
Now London has a second outpost in Exmouth Market (the first opened in Shoreditch last year) and I couldn’t be happier.
Both this and the Shoreditch branch are co-run by Rick Astley who has now proven he doesn’t just sing and play the drums but he also has a head for the beer business. Indeed, hospitality seems to be opening up a new career path for former artists and sportsmen with Guy Ritchie opening Lore of the Land, and former footballers Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville having a go with their anticipated Stock Exchange in Manchester. In Astley’s case, he had already struck up a successful partnership with Mikkeller when they developed his Northern Hop Lager together. Now this sparse Farringdon branch boasts a regularly-changing series of beers including the Exmouth Market Pils (their take on a German-style Pilsner), session IPAs, a gluten-free pale ale called Peter, Pale and Mary, or the thick and luscious Tweaker coffee porter (8%) to name just a few available at the moment.
The Exmouth Market branch is very much a pop-up though. It feels like your entrepreneurial neighbour converted their garage into a bar and invited you round for a party, so you can’t expect it to be perfect (indeed, there was an unpleasant whiff from the makeshift toilets which weren’t fully functioning on this visit). But they’ve tried to retain the Mikkeller vibe as much as possible with atmospheric candles and, most crucially, their 14 taps of amber nectar.
The upstairs will soon house a restaurant too but in the meantime if you get peckish after a couple of brews you’re spoilt for choice in Exmouth Market – including, of course, the Quality Chop House just round the corner. Enjoy it whilst it lasts!
37-39 Exmouth Market
by J A Smith