Beer Review: Mikkeller Beer Geek Vanilla Maple Shake

photo by Kevin Gibson

photo by Kevin Gibson

We've covered breakfast cereal-themed beer, but the latest in Mikkeller’s popular Beer Geek Breakfast Series, Beer Geek Vanilla Maple Shake takes the flavored-breakfast-stout motif another step further in the pantheon. The Denmark-based brewery previously has released Vanilla Shake, Cocoa Shake, and variants, this time adding maple to put an exclamation point on the breakfast angle. Mikkeller does so with some measure of over-the-top success.

When this beer finally made it to my neck of the woods, I decided to let it sit until some really cold weather set in – this beer is a 13 percent alcohol by volume imperial oatmeal stout, so it’s tailor-made for cold winter months. As fate would have it, the freeze in hometown in a big way recently, so my patience paid off. In fact, it was about 15 degrees outside, and I noticed even my not-quite-so-cold fridge seemed colder than normal. I let the 12-ounce bottle sit at room temperature for a while to take the edge off and give the aroma and flavors a better chance to shine.

When my lack of patience got the best of me, I cracked it open, and poured the ultra-black beer into a snifter glass. I got a quickly-dissipating, dark tan head, and a nose full of maple. In fact, the maple so outdistances the roasted malts and vanilla in the nose that I almost wanted to make some pancakes and drizzle it over those rather than drink it.

I resisted that notion, obviously, and took a sip. The sweetness of the beer hit me first, although the coffee notes do come through in the flavor. Still, the maple syrup continued to dominate, pretty much front to back. It’s a beautiful beer, texture-wise, with a velvety, creamy feel on the palate. Meanwhile, the boozy nature of the brew offers almost instant warmth, which spreads with the finish.

I will say, though, that the booziness is felt more than tasted, except perhaps on the very back of the palate, where a sharp, almost tinny taste develops over the course of a few drinks. It wasn’t quite disconcerting, but it was there.

But overall, Beer Geek Maple Vanilla Shake, which according to a press notice was brewed at Lervig Aktiebryggeri in Stavanger, Norway, is an enjoyable spin on the series. That said, for my purposes, I’m glad I bought only one – for me, the prevalent maple syrup flavor made it more of a novelty beer (and I’ve always wondered if the name “Beer Geek” was Mikkeller’s way of poking fun). I’ll take a straight-forward imperial stout any day over something infused with multiple flavors. But that’s just me – your mileage may vary.