Iron Anniversary IPA: A Great Introductory Hazy IPA from Mikkeller Brewery

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Long has the partnership between Ommegang and Game of Thrones born delicious fruit for fans with their wide array of themed beers. Well, much like HBO moving on with House of the Dragon and a barrage of other spinoffs, so too have they moved on from the New York brewery. Stepping in to take their place is Danish brewery Mikkeller launching a brand new line of Game of Thrones beers to entice longtime fans. And they’re starting out with a bang by offering a very popular type of beer wholly absent from Ommegang’s line-up: an IPA. So let’s dive in and explore this new take on themed beer with the Iron Anniversary Hazy IPA by Mikkeller.

That was one thing that struck me when my ears perked up and I heard about the new line of beer coming out-that Ommegang had not produced any IPAs for Game of Thrones. Looking back through the collection, it was primarily ales, with scattered porters, stouts, and barley wines. And while I am a massive ale fan, you look around any beer shop and you’ll see an endless sea of the wildly popular IPA style beers, especially in the craft beer sections. Although an IPA is technically an ale, the construction of the beer is very different. IPAs often contain many times the amount of hops as any other ale. They rely more on the bitter and sharp hops for flavoring than any other kind of ale, delivering a distinctive bitterness that drives some beer drinkers wild. Not myself, but this is clearly the large craft beer audience that Mikkeller is targeting with their Iron Anniversary IPA.

IPA canOne of the main criticisms of IPAs as a style is that its taste is so divisive because of just how bitter they can turn out and the very strong alcohol content. You either love them or hate them, which informs why they haven’t been made into a product for HBO yet. Ales are safe and well-liked across most beer drinkers. But Mikkeller Brewery did something very clever with Iron Anniversary. In the last few years, a new style of IPA has burst onto the scene out of New England called Hazy or Juicy IPAs, which goes a long way into solving that divide. Hazy IPAs are made by adding flour, grains, fruit, and more to the traditional beer combo of hops, malt, water, and yeast. These create the hazy appearance that makes the beer opaque and the juicy flavor that comes from the fruit additives. These are attracting a lot of attention among beer drinkers by preserving the signature bitterness of the hop flavor but drawing in new consumers by adding sweet and smooth flavors as well. And that’s what we have here with Iron Anniversary.

Iron Anniversary IPA is a New England IPA. This relatively new style of beer is expressive without being too extreme, and has been much hyped among microbreweries and beer enthusiasts in recent years.

Although based in Denmark, Mikkeller’s San Diego brewery is responsible for their hazy IPA in the US. It is most definitely an IPA, and has that very pronounced bitterness that IPA fans seek. As for looks, it is definitively a hazy IPA with an opaque yellow coloring. It is not the most exaggerated bitterness though because as a hazy IPA very quickly the fruit flavors and smoothness follow. The fruit does taste strongly of citrus, either orange or grapefruit. Grapefruit is very often used in hazy IPAs because their bitter, acidic natural flavors generally pair well with the bitter IPA, and it does well here too. The smoothness that follows is also a nice surprise taking the edge off the bitter and acidic citrus before rounding out with the hops coming through again.

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I would call this a very safe hazy IPA, where in a style of beer that is noted for extreme experimentation in flavors this is a very good standard example. Or to say another way, a great introduction to the style to then branch out from, if you enjoy it. It makes sense as the opening offering from the Mikkeller brewery hoping to entrance us fans of Westeros by producing a beer that is a solid demonstration of their abilities. It’s certainly worth giving a try if you’re already a fan of IPAs or looking to try something new.

As I mentioned before, I am not a fan of IPAs nor even hazy IPAs, as bitter is a flavor I don’t have a taste for. Still, I have tried them before and Iron Anniversary is something I can recommend that others try especially if you already love IPAs of all sorts. I personally won’t seek out more of it, but that’s because of my palate, not the quality of the beer. You could give me the best IPA in the wide world and I’ll turn up my nose.

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One thing to mention is that along with the quality of the Ommegang beers appealing to fans, they really leaned into making their bottles collectible. They were large, 24 oz. bottles with high-quality artwork commissioned for them, and as the series continued they started changing the styles. Ommegang started off with a simple brown bottle and sticker before changing things up drastically for the Royal Reserve Collection’s blacked-out bottles and distinctive colored wraps of red, yellow, grey, and blue.

Mikkeller’s offering is very different, coming in 16 oz. silver cans wrapped in a black label with the distinctive gold coloring of Game of Thrones’ title. The artwork is different, but still appealing with Mikkeller’s mascots and artwork being blended with Thrones imagery including a sword and a three-eyed raven on it. They even used a type of hops called “styrian dragon” which I’m sure was used for its quality as a dry hop but also to reinforce the general Thrones-iness of the product.

However, it does make them feel less collectible overall as the plain silver tallboy and black sticker come off as less impressive than Ommegang’s large glass bottles and elaborate artwork. I will note that Mikkeller does make those same kinds of large glass bottles as well, but did not use them for this initial offering. We’ll have to see how future Mikkeller collaborations turn out as they have promised more over the next few years.

You can find Iron Anniversary by Mikkeller Brewery at local stores near you, or in their webshop.

Note: the author was provided a free sample by Mikkeller for this review.

15 responses

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    1. Wow! The site is quiet. I can’t have beer because I’m gluten intolerant – there is gluten free beer but it’s not cheap. It might be nice for people who can take gluten though. I actually thought of Mikken’s mark – referring to the book blacksmith and if memory serves me correctly someone used to comment under that name back in the day. But I see now that Mikkeller is the name of the brewery.

      Off topic, I caught up on a British true crime drama from about 4 years ago ‘The Moorside’. Gemma Whelan played the mother of a missing child (a very different character to Yara) – she was very good. It was well acted all round though as it’s a British story I don’t know if would appeal to folk from America.

        Quote  Reply

    2. Hey, Joe Magician!

      I really enjoy your YouTube videos and your Covid Quarantream output. I’ve chosen not to sign up to YouTube etc. (privacy concerns) so I can’t comment on those channels.

      Let me just say, I enjoy your take, sometimes a bit tinfoily, but you admit it, on all things ASoIaF (asswaffle… 😀 )

      I like your way of considering this and that, going down a rabbit hole but not being “locked” into any one fan theory, instead, exploring them all and trying to find out if they have any merit. I really enjoy your Quaranstreams.

      As to the beer. I haven’t tasted this particular one, so I can’t say… But it’s an IPA.

      I’m not a big fan of IPAs. Too hoppy (bitter). IPAs have been the trendy thing for the past ten years or so. I’m old skool. More malt, less hop.

      I applaud the Danish brewery for seizing this marketing opportunity to export their beer into the US. The Danes make pretty good beer. Even fashionable IPAs.

        Quote  Reply

    3. While I was never able to acquire a taste for beer or any alcohol that’s not a super sugared up bellini with as may cherries that can fit on the rim, I have a friend who is pretty much a beer connoisseur and is experimenting with making her own. I think she’d be super interested into this 🙂 However, I do love the smell of beer!

        Quote  Reply

    4. Dame of Mercia:

      Off topic, I caught up on a British true crime drama from about 4 years ago ‘The Moorside’.Gemma Whelan played the mother of a missing child…

      Off topic: Gemma Whelan sightings! She’s such a great actor!

      She was in White House Farm, a 4-part “true crime” dramatisation of an actual horriffic crime. I only watched the first episode. You knew half-way through the first episode who the actual killer was and where the police investigation went wrong etc. etc. I didn’t want to gawk, it felt wrong. Making TV entertainment out of the tragedy of a family just feels wrong.

      Gemma Whelan played the cousin of the murderer and did it so well it lifted the first episode a bit above muck.

      I mean. “True crime” fictionalised series? Are so many now being produced because commissioners or producers don’t want to pay for an orignal script? Taking a real-life story and getting some hacks to write it up is probably cheaper than producing a fictional show of high artistic standard, employing professionals that might come up with something original.

      Plus I find these “true crime” shows really distasteful. Making entertainment out of crime victims. Exploting their tragedies. Give me fantasy and dragons and mad Targs anytime!

        Quote  Reply

    5. talvikorppi,

      I won’t go into the details of the one I watched i.e. ‘The Moorside’ but in that story the child was found alive. I did hear one report that the grandparents of the child who was lost – and found – had reservations about a dramatisation of the events in question.

      Historic true crime maybe is different. The official line about William Rufus, one of the Norman kings of England is that he was shot by an arrow in a hunting accident but there have been rumours down through the ages that it might have been an assassination. No boars involved though I have sometimes wondered if GRRM got the idea of Bobby B being killed in a hunting accident from that incident. That said, there have been many hunting accidents throughout history. But then, are you a historian? I remember that Efi was a historian but I haven’t seen her post anything for quite some time.

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    6. On the subject of true crime or dramatizations of true crime, I do watch shows like Unsolved Mysteries. I wonder if families have to consent before allowing their story to be told? I’ve also wondered how they feel and how complex those feelings can be. On one hand, if it is an unsolved mystery, they’re bringing light to a cold case that has tormented them for years. On the other, there is some sensationalism going on sometimes. I admit I am drawn to true crime stories in part because they are true and I think that’s part of the horror. Knowing that it’s real life and it can happen to regular people.

        Quote  Reply

    7. talvikorppi:
      Hey, Joe Magician!

      I really enjoy your YouTube videos and your Covid Quarantream output. I’ve chosen not to sign up to YouTube etc. (privacy concerns) so I can’t comment on those channels.

      Let me just say, I enjoy your take, sometimes a bit tinfoily, but you admit it, on all things ASoIaF (asswaffle… 😀 )

      I like your way of considering this and that, going down a rabbit hole but not being “locked” into any one fan theory, instead, exploring them all and trying to find out if they have any merit. I really enjoy your Quaranstreams.

      As to the beer. I haven’t tasted this particular one, so I can’t say… But it’s an IPA.

      I’m not a big fan of IPAs. Too hoppy (bitter).IPAs have been the trendy thing for the past ten years or so. I’m old skool. More malt, less hop.

      I applaud the Danish brewery for seizing this marketing opportunity to export their beer into the US. The Danes make pretty good beer. Even fashionable IPAs.

      Appreciate the shout out and that you enjoy my Saturday rambles! Whenever I post a theory video, you can be sure there was like 10 other ideas that didn’t cut it. Work through ideas logically until they fall apart.

      New England IPAs are way less harsh than normal IPAs imo. I mean I’m not drinking either, but if I had to I’d take ones like this where they try to soften the sharp flavors.

        Quote  Reply

    8. Adrianacandle:
      While I was never able to acquire a taste for beer or any alcohol that’s not a super sugared up bellini with as may cherries that can fit on the rim, I have a friend who is pretty much a beer connoisseur and is experimenting with making her own. I think she’d be super interested into this 🙂 However, I do love the smell of beer!

      Always worth at least giving new types of beer a try! Nothing ventured, nothing gained and all that.

        Quote  Reply

    9. JoeMagician,

      Thanks, Joe! I’ll give other beers a try. There was a raspberry beer I tried in Belgium that I almost liked 🙂 Plus, my aforementioned friend made me a mead she’s sure I’ll like.

      Anyway, thanks for this post and the encouragement!!

        Quote  Reply

    10. JoeMagician,

      ⚠️ Caution! Whinge Ahead

      A while back, I whined that “the partnership between Ommegang and Game of Thrones” that produced ”delicious fruit for fans with their wide array of themed beers” never included Sandor Ale.

      I thought that would’ve been a no-brainer, and a ready-made marketing bonanza. Now it seems the new licensee, Mikkeller, has missed the opportunity as well. (And that logo on its can looks kind of cheesy. Who wouldn’t prefer the scowling face of the Hound?)

      … to be continued…

        Quote  Reply

    11. Part 1 of 4

      The Mikkeller ads would write themselves. Just grab a snippet or two from a scene like this:

      • S4e1, “Two Swords”

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jwQAZ7_SjgU

      at 3:01 – 3:15
      Polliver: “I know you. You’re the Hound! Pour our new friend some ale.”
      ***
      at 5:44 – 6:11
      Sandor: “You’re a talker. Listening to talkers makes me thirsty….”
      [Sandor reaches over, grabs Polliver’s tankard of ale, and chugs it all down]
      “ ….And hungry. Think I’ll take two chickens.”

        Quote  Reply

    12. Part 4 of 4

      Joe Magician wrote: “IPAs often contain many times the amount of hops as any other ale. They rely more on the bitter and sharp hops for flavoring than any other kind of ale, delivering a distinctive bitterness that drives some beer drinkers wild…”
      “One of the main criticisms of IPAs as a style is that its taste is so divisive because of just how bitter they can turn out and the very strong alcohol content…”
      ***
      “However, it [Mikkeller’s offering, in 16 oz. silver cans wrapped in a black label with the distinctive gold coloring of Game of Thrones’ title] does make them feel less collectible overall as the plain silver tallboy and black sticker come off as less impressive than Ommegang’s large glass bottles and elaborate artwork…”

      • S7e1 Sandor and Thoros

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YVDGnZd-0pk

      at 0:23 – 0:29
      Thoros: “You want some rum?”
      Sandor: “Don’t like that sh*t. It’s too sweet.”
      ***
      [Approaching Rabbit Stew Sally’s (uninhabited) farmhouse: Callback to S4e3]
      at 1:24 – 1:34
      Thoros: “Come on. Maybe they’ve got some ale hidden away.”
      Sandor: “They don’t.”

        Quote  Reply

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