After timing not being on my side last year, visiting Copenhagen Beer Celebration was unachievable in 2015 but the excitement of CBC 2016 had plenty of time to build. Even the day the tickets were released was pretty exciting. Expecting a major rush on tickets I sat with a laptop and iPad, alongside some homebrew, waiting for tickets to become available. Over the next few days it seemed I didn’t have to be so proactive but I had my tickets and that’s all that mattered to me. With each four hour session costing £50; almost £200 for all four session; the trip took some commitment but after a great experience at Borefts the year before, there would be no second thoughts. Flights aren’t too costly and accommodation can be as expensive or inexpensive as you like.
Turning up on the first morning you could see what this festival meant to the people who were attending. Welcome to pure beer geekery. Put together by the people at Mikkeller only the biggest and best beers were going to be served this weekend. The queue was long; long before the 10am opening time but the weather was absolutely glorious. I think I’ve rarely attended a beer festival in bad weather. An organised system meant we were in by 10:30 and you could feel the buzz in the air. A buzz further developed by my first beer, To Øl Black Baal; a massive 14% coffee infused triple black IPA. I remind you it wasn’t quite 11am…
A long row of bars ran along the far wall with small islands of bars in the middle of the room; each bar with two of their selected beers pouring, the ethos being that “when it’s gone, it’s gone”. This brings me to my first, and probably only qualm… People queuing for easily over an hour for a free 50ml of beer. The room was full of beer! delicious beer! I wasn’t one for wasting time stood in a queue. Hill Farmstead and The Rare Barrel being the main culprits and Three Floyds with their Dark Lord release. As I left the first session I walked straight up to the Rare Barrel stand and got one of their two beers. Forces Unseen was a fruity golden ale with a little bit of funk and a little bit of acidity. It was a fantastic 50ml beer but I’m happy I didn’t queue for half an hour for it.
Ignoring the statement above I did join a short queue for Omnipollo’s Agamemnon Imperial Stout only for the last glass to be enjoyed by the gentleman in front of me. That’s what queuing does; it disappoints. The Blueberry Lassi Gose was pretty tasty though. Over all four sessions many of their beers served with ice cream or through ice cream creating a whole new texture and sensation.
With each brewer only having two beers a session it felt like everyone brought their A-game. Whether this was a big barrel aged imperial stout tipping the scales at 12% or a session pale ale with a perfectly balanced hop profile, when the brewers were serving they couldn’t be more friendly and open to discussion about what they had to offer. Sometimes it was difficult to tear yourself away. Even the attendees couldn’t have been more friendly; merely eye contact was enough to engage each other in conversation no matter what nationality, asking what each other were drinking and recommending the next beer to go for. My preconceptions of the event having an air of pretension were completely blown out of the water.
The week before the festival, I’d worked my way through the beer list for each session highlighting which beers I definitely wanted to have but the list went out the window when you’re surrounded by around 130 different beers per sessions. I’d be crossing the hall to go to Crooked Stave’s stall and end up stopping up at Prairie half way down. For the Beer Ticker, CBC is great; 50ml shots of rare beers your friends have never tried will really make them jealous but for me, I wanted to savour these beers that I may never sample again. Occasionally I’d go back for seconds but with so much availability there was always something new to try.
Beer of the Session
Yellow – Friday a.m.
Brewski – Mango DIPA
A great balance of sweet tropical fruit with a bitter hop profile produce a very drinkable 8% IPA. Incredibly refreshing on what was a lovely and warm morning
Blue – Friday p.m.
Crooked Stave – Nightmare on Brett
This bretted dark ale has an incredibly tart acetic flavour bolstered by the raspberry addition in this version of the beer
Red – Saturday a.m.
What better way to shake off a hangover than an imperial Black and Tan. Unhuman Cannonballs big hoppy bitterness with some boozy bourbon barrel sweetness. Who needs Paracetamol?
Green – Saturday p.m.
To Øl – Mr Orange
Having had this on my first day at Taphouse I really wanted another sample. A juicy bitter from both hops and fruit additions. A very citrusy and refreshing beer
I really enjoyed Copenhagen Beer Celebration. I believe its a beer festival concept that I think we are short of in the UK. I had the opportunity to sample rare and exciting beers I may never get to try again and with so many new breweries opening in the UK maybe this type of event will start cropping up in the future.