Recently, twin craft brewers Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergso and Mikkel Borg Bjergso became the focus of a New York Times Magazine feature.
The Danish-born brothers’ relationship was given as much attention as the inventive beer styles they create for Mikkeller and Evil Twin Brewery.
Apparently, the twins have an ongoing feud and distaste for each other despite being half a world apart in Brooklyn (Jeppe) and Copenhagen (Mikkel).
To me, the story almost seemed too perfect.
One focuses on drinkability while the other pushes the boundaries of big beers. Mikkel claims Jeppe is going to “talk trash” about him. Jeppe unironically names his brewery Evil Twin. Mikkel invites Jeppe to a beer festival that Jeppe wants to back out until he decides “showing up is gonna be worse for him.”
In the process they both conveniently gain publicity for each other.
Sure, brothers can definitely get under each others’ skin. So this may very well be founded. But excuse me if I think this narrative seems almost scripted by Hollywood.
However, there was one part of this story that caught my interest. That’s the footnote that this sibling rivalry began with running. Check out this passage from the Times piece:
“From about 11 years old, we started middle-distance running, and we became really good,” Mikkel said. As Jeppe put it: “We always had someone we wanted to beat.” In 1994, the twins entered an 800-meter race at the Aarhus Games, an international track-and-field event. “It was our best race, and the difference between us was, like, one-hundredth of a second,” Mikkel said. “I came in second. Jeppe was third.” tweet
An article in our own DRAFT magazine also touched on the same subject:
Unsurprisingly, the brothers have some good-natured competition, dating back at least to the time when Jeppe says they were ranked the top two mid-distance runners in all of Denmark. (Perhaps that explains why they currently each sport Steve Prefontaine-esque ’stashes.) tweet
Mikkel attended Kansas State University on a running scholarship, and in the process discovered craft beer starting with Rogue’s Dead Guy Ale. He won the “outstanding freshman award” in 1994 and he competed in the world cross country championships that year.
Eventually, Mikkel returned to his home country and started his own brewery, only to have his brother found a rival brewery in Brooklyn. Their competition continues to this day.
So if it wasn’t first for a sibling running rivalry, maybe they never would have started their respective breweries to push and prod each other.
That’s a story I’m willing to believe.