When we think of Danish beers we immediately think of Carlsberg, and for good reason. Though they probably don’t make the best beer in the world they have furthered the possibilities of manufacture immeasurably.
Founded in 1847 they set up the Carlsberg laboratory in 1875, dedicated wholly to the science of brewing. Here, amongst other things, they introduced the concept of pH levels which we all still study at school. According to Wikipedia the Danish chemist Soren Peder Lauritz Sorensen introduced the concept of pH, a scale for measuring acidity and basicity of substances. While working at the Carlsberg laboratory, he studied the effect of ion concentration on proteins, and understood the concentration of hydrogen ions was particularly important. To express the hydronium ion (H30+) concentration in a solution, he devised a logarithmic scale known as the pH scale.
Now whatever all that means I’m certain they took their beer pretty bloody seriously.
Emil Christian Hansen became the first person to isolate a pure cell of yeast whilst working at the laboratory in 1883. It was named Saccharomyces Carlsbergensis and it’s the yeast all yeasts in lager beers are derived. I don’t know why I felt the need to put that bit of Latin in italics. It just seemed the right thing to do.
Anyway times have moved on, people have taken what Carlsberg have done for the industry and have done wondrous things with them. Of course Carlsberg are by far the biggest brewer in Copenhagen but it’s the smaller companies that excite me. Smaller is relative of course as Mikkeller in the craft beer world is massive.
Founded in 2006 Mikkeller are a cuckoo, or gypsy, brewery. This means they don’t have an official brewery, they use other breweries equipment. This is obviously not too much of a drawback though as they have become one of the world’s most respected breweries. Not bad for a journalist and a teacher who were self taught home brewers.
Beer Geek Breakfast was their first beer that was critically acclaimed and won an international event, so it seems fitting that it was our first beer in Copenhagen.
This is a beautiful beer, seven malts, roasted barley, flaked oats, American hops and real coffee it’s certainly indulgent but lighter than you might expect. It had a slight brewers yeast smell and isn’t quite what your expecting to taste. Every mouthful surprises you due to the aroma and takes you on an unexpected journey.
We had this beer at the Mikkeller bar in Viktoriagade which I think was the first one they opened. It’s so cool, everything we were expecting from Scandinavian style. Cosy, small, minimal with on point decorations and a warm and welcoming vibe.
Our second beer there was Mikkeller Black and this is a different prospect entirely. It’s defining character is its strength. This beer, that was brewed in Belgium weighs in at a hefty 16.1% and definitely packs a punch. Michelle hated it and I wasn’t over bothered, it’s an experimental that’s worth trying but I’d be flabbergasted if it’s anyone’s go to bevvy of choice! Like a can of bloody jagermeister!
We tried a couple more from the beer geek series, namely the vanilla maple shake and the triple flat white and we enjoyed them all immensely.
It was time to push on with our crawl but before we did I noticed one last drink on the bottle list I needed and didn’t expect to see. Eclipse Imperial Stout. The person who made these beers, Todd Ashman, is a bit of a pioneer when it comes to barrel aging beers and this one you can choose which bourbon barrel the Imperial Stout was aged in, we went for Elijah Wood 12 year old. At 11.9% it packs a punch but it’s richness and full flavours envelopes for a luscious mouth filling warming rich delicious beer. With burnt toffee apple up front it seemed appropriate we had it on Halloween. It was smooth with an alcohol that wasn’t overbearing and a pleasurable expensive whisky coming through late. Two thumbs up.
Our next stop was the Orsted Olbar. I absolutely loved this place. It was definitely a craft beer place with some new hip breweries such as Anarchy and Track on their 20 taps, but it had a real pub feel about it. Lots of wood, candles in bottles (but Speedway Stout bottles), football on the telly when there’s a match and a table football. I loved the place. It was probably the closest I’ve seento what I want. The Mikkeller bar was fantastic and super stylish, this place just seemed a bit more fun time.
They had a good bottle list too. We found lots of different beers that interested us including Founders Breakfast Stout.
This is a bit of a celebrated classic and certainly not that rare but it was the first time I had come across it I think. First made in Michigan in 2001 this strong coffee flavoured Stout not only help save the Founders but pushed them into being a major player in the craft beer scene.
Onwards and upwards and we strolled off to the more bohemian side of Copenhagen, crossing a bridge on the way.
The river was weird. It stopped when it got to the bridge then resumed the other side of the road. I can’t explain it, I suppose it was a dam of some kind, I dunno, I ain’t no geography teacher.
What I do know is the Norrebro region of Copenhagen is very cool, and within this area is one of the coolest bars around Himmeriget the Evil Twin tap room.
Evil Twin is named as the inventor is the identical twin of Mikkel from Mikkeller. Arriving on the scene 4 years later supposedly he called himself Evil Twin a wind up as they hate each other. How much of this anomosity is real and how much is media stroking no one really knows. A lot like the Gallagher brothers of Oasis, it’s seems convincing.
Jeppe of Evil Twin has moved to Brooklyn now but his influence remains and this place is full of his his crazy inventions.
For example Big Ass Money Stout is dry hopped with pizza and dollar bills. It was 60 quid a bottle so I didn’t have one, but I deeply regret that decision now!
They had a beer I needed though, even if it wasn’t from Evil Twin.
Limfjords Porter is a baltic porter. These are typically sweet, strong and bottom fermenting. The Thigsted Bryghus (Brewery) has been around since the 19th century. They first took their Limfjords Porter from another brewery in 1986 when that brewery closed down. They tinkled with it a bit and created a fine example of the style. Smoky and malty. It was incidentally commented to be the favourite of the bar man in Himmeriget and seeing the wonderful smorgasbord of world class beers he’s surrounded by that means a lot, well to me anyway.
Onwards and upwards through the tight roads and past a million independent shops in a community that just breathed life. Unfortunately the next bar we visited in the area was the first time we were disappointed really.
The barman didn’t have time for us. Only half the taps had anything on due to the fact they were “changing to winter beers” the next day. He had no interest in engaging just wanted to get back to his newspaper. Hey, I know how he feels sometimes for sure but it did take the wind out of our beer sails a bit.
It did have some amusing art up though that Michelle liked.
And a beer off the list that I liked too!
Celis White is a Belgian spiced wheat beer first brewed in 1992. It tastes like a classic witbier like drinking half a Hoegaarden. It’s gone some orange tones coming through which must be due to the added Curaçao orange peel alongside the other addition of coriander.
Nothing else of the list and no other reason to stay so we went to the next stop on my predetermined crawl which is a brewery.
The Norrebro Bryghus is a cut above the other places we had been to. Super fresh like the new Mange Tout in Southend, it was very clean, very friendly and was a shame not to eat there.
We came for two beers but unfortunately one of those, the Little Korkney was now out of production. They did have the Bombay Pale Ale though.
And very pleasant it was too. Juicy, a little spice and some mango coming through, this European take on the US IPA made by a former Carlsberg brewer ticked all the boxes for me.
We were sad to leave but the clock was ticking and we had a few more places to visit believe it or not. We were starting to seriously fall in love with Copenhagen.
We popped into a couple more bars that were both very different but didnt have any of my beers.
SKAAL was cool and funky, bit young for us, reminded us of East Coast Social. They did however have an excellent tap selection, and an even better TV set up to tell us what beers are on, what style they are and how much is left of each one.
Lord Nelson was the complete opposite. It was more like a dive bar yet still cool. Very rocky, the bar person was cool and you could smoke sitting at the bar which is super rare. We were drunk by then and got carried away by the USB ports all along the bar. Genius, can’t believe we haven’t seen that anywhere else. Yoink.
Our final stop was in a bar called Fermentoren, back in the meat packing district where we started. By now it had taken a bit of a rougher edge with the local rehab centre or shelter or whatever it was kicking some colourful characters out on to the street. It was the first time in Denmark we felt a little uneasy.
Still we found the pub easy enough and they had Maisels Weisse there.
Maisels Weisse is a weird one for me as I used to sell it in the Paul Pry when they had their first wave of craft beer bottles. It was pretty prevalent but seems to have dropped away a bit. Still, I can’t believe I had never tried one.
This beer is one of the main reasons for weissbiers resurgence as the brewer’s spent a lot of time and money advertising all over Germany. It’s a great example of the style, it has a long lingering fruity hold with plenty of banana esters.
The pub itself had a good outside area, the best we had been to in the town, it was cool with a little rough edge, we were surprised it closed at 12.
It also had the best toilet graffiti I have ever seen from one of my favourite films.
Do you know the quotes? If you do post it in the comments section and you can win a bottle of Maisels Weisse! Terms and conditions apply.
So that was Copenhagen. The next day we walked to the ferry via the indoor food market which I highly highly recommend.
And the little mermaid which you can take or leave really but is quite pretty.
This is the longest blog I have ever written I reckon and I have a feeling I am writing to myself. But if you did make it this far well done and thank you very much.
One last thing, Copenhagen has more bikes than I have ever seen in my life. Bye!!!