The Beer Twins Rivalry
by Paul Nelson
Evil Twin Brewing founder Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø isnot only know for his beer but for his infamous “feud”
with his identical twin brother, Mikkel Borg Bjergsø, the founder of Mikkeller Beer.
They obviously look like but also share a similar back story to their brewing. Both are former school
teachers; both got their starts in the beer business as nomadic or gypsy brewers. Soon, both will have
breweries very close to each other in Queens New York which is guaranteed to amp up their rivalry. This
will be Jeppe's first brick and mortar production facility while Mikkeller has a brewery in San Diego, and
operates 39 different locations throughout the world, including a small brewery and taproom at Citi Field,
the home of the New York Mets.
Mikkeller’s Citi Field space is located about six miles from where Evil Twin Brewing NYC will open this fall. It’s
become a point of contention for Jeppe, who accused his brother of being a sellout and claims Mikkel
merely licensed his company’s name to the project.
“Mikkel and Mikkeller have 0% ownership in Mikkeller NYC,” he said. “Mikkeller NYC is not a small
independent craft brewery, but a part of a wealthy group of corporate people that owns the Mets
among other things.” Jeppe said he owned 100 percent of Evil Twin and that he’s never accepted
“corporate money. “I control everything Evil Twin does,” he wrote in a recent post. “Mikkel does not,
because he sold out, as simple as that.”
He has a point. Mikkeller sold an undisclosed stake to Orkila Capital, a New York City-based private equity
firm, two years ago — news that went mostly unreported at the time. Jeppe suggested that companies
that have been sold to private equity need to be scrutinized as much as those which have been acquired
by larger brewing entities, like Anheuser-Busch InBev. He went on to say that he would personally never
get involved with private equity firms because once they're involved everything changes According to
Jeppe private equity, has only one goal - to build a business and sell it for double or five times the
amount of money. That’s why Jeppe, at one time exclusively a gypsy brewer who outsourced
production of his products to other small beer companies (and still does), says he financed the Queens
brewery with cash flow, small business loans, and traditional bank debt.
The brewery itself, which will cost upwards of $3 million to build and spans about 15,000 sq. ft., including
an outdoor courtyard, will feature a 15-barrel brewhouse and 9 fermentation vessels. It will be capable of
producing about 4,000 barrels annually, and Evil Twin expects to add about 25 full and part-time jobs.
“Since moving to New York 6 ½ years ago, it was always my goal to become a real NYC brewery and
this was the final step to become that,” he said. “I also always wanted my own space where I can control
everything 100 percent.”Jeppe added that the ability to sell beer directly to consumers, through a
tasting room, was also a factor in his decision to lay down roots in New York City.
Just in case you were wondering how the brothers' split came about, Jeppe says the brothers got
unfriendly with each other before they were in the beer business when they got into a major dispute
over a real estate transaction nearly one decade ago. According to many sources the actual story is
that Jeppe opened a beer store called Olbutikken. Mikkel began brewing beer to supply the store. That
was the deal: Jeppe sold what Mikkel brewed. Then, Mikkel opened his own bar. That was the beginning
of the rivalry that has separated the brothers for so long.
Mikkel describes all the turmoil simply as a fact of being twins. He said they used to compete to see who
could empty the dishwasher more quickly when they were little kids; they both became middle-distance
runners; they were separated by one-one-hundredth of a second on the biggest race they ever ran.
Now their competing in beer.
based on an article by Nina Porzuckii
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The Evil Twin v. Mikkeller
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