This year I went to the fantastic Copenhagen Beer Celebration (Previous blog post here) arranged by Mikkeller and had possibly one of the most superb beery weekends I will ever have. What I can remember of it? Little at best. The beer festival wasn’t too difficult to remember with two relaxed sessions a day, a beer list to hand and a camera it was quite easy to recollect the goings on and present it in a blog post but the issue comes when filling in the gaps between 8pm and the next morning; drinking from 3pm on the Thursday through to 2pm on the Sunday and your blood alcohol level is enough to make Oliver Reed consider leaving the car at home.
Now I’m not a heavy drinker, but I do get serious bouts of FOMO (“Fear of Missing Out” to to those not down with the modern tongue). For example, we never got into Warpigs during the days of the festival due to queues and capacity but I wasn’t going to leave Copenhagen before I had a chance to; so a full day at CBC and beers at Mikkeller Bar wasn’t going to stop me bounding in an hour before closing to sample some fantastic beers and some rock and roll. (Note: this wasn’t a good idea as I lost my phone). Do I regret it? No. The reputation of Warpigs is fully justified; the collaboration of Three Floyds and Mikkeller, their attitude permitted by the quality of beer they produce and commitment to that quality is further cemented by the fact they have a White Labs laboratory in their unit providing the freshest, healthiest yeast for their brews.
So Day One was as pre-planned as possible; throw the bags in the room and get to the first bar. A slight commotion occurred when it turned out four guys who were drinking all weekend had to share 2 double beds as the hotel didn’t even do twins [My mistake and I took full responsibility for this. I also never slept so well]. Full of energy we walked past Tivoli Gardens to our first stop: Taphouse. With 61 taps choosing a beer quickly would prove difficult but choosing a great beer was guaranteed. To Øl were prominent (as well as Thornbridge off the back of a TTO) and their big and juicy Mr Orange ESB was a delightful beer to get the trip going. The sun was shining and the small curb side seating area was great for enjoying a few beers and watching life go by in Copenhagen. The american accents around, convincing us that many people had travelled great distances for the festival.
A walk through Ørstedsparken illustrated a relaxed Copenhagen with families and group sat out in the sunshine having picnics and sharing beers on the grass (You are allowed to drink in public in Denmark, other than on transport). I also found out there is no legal age limit for drinking alcohol either. In bars and restaurants you have to be 18 years of age to buy but to buy from shops only one person in the group has to be over 16. Interesting fact. No? Just me? ok…
Ørsted Ølbar was on the opposite side of the park where we rested with some Lervig beers before heading to our next stop: Himmeriget.
Himmeriget, co-founded by Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø of Evil Twin, had just opened and due to it being the CBC weekend it was obviously packed to the gills so being able to drink outside in the great weather was a bonus again. It took some time to get to the bar but the beer selection was superb. There were 10 taps of fantastic beers of which I went for Evil Twin’s Imperial Doughnut Break (…when in Rome) which was as rich and sweet as I remember. Due to congregating outside we didn’t consider any bottles and this was a shame. The beer list was as thick as the yellow pages* and was full of incredible and incredibly rare beers. You could move to Copenhagen and still not manage to tick these off on Untapped**
*”Very slight” exaggeration
**Another “very slight” exaggeration
After a bite to eat we headed up to To Øl’s BRUS for the opening party. Already in full swing the place was as you expect it; like everywhere else, rammed. The former factory was huge but that didn’t stop the party spilling outside. Beer was running out left, right and centre and the bar was 10 deep at least. It was so hectic I can’t even remember what we ended up having to drink but the great atmosphere definitely made up for it. It’s hard not to get into the party spirit during CBC weekend. The building is beautiful although wasn’t quite finished. A large industrial building with kitsch Scandinavian timber décor and grand windows letting in as much light as possible. Behind the bar there were bright serving tanks awaiting to be filled in order to serve delicious fresh beer right from the tank. Through the centre of the structure, the barrel store was on show, illustrating the great beers that are likely to be coming out of there and allowing visitors to get up close and personal with a beer they may drink in a year or two.
Day One was finished off with a trip to Mikkeller and Friends in the north of Copenhagen. I’d been to the one in Reykjavik and like Copenhagen it has more of a “fun time” vibe. The bar was decorated with more vibrant colours than its counterparts and it’s huge tap list gave you plenty of options to choose from. We’d arrived on the back of a British Tap Takeover which included beers from Kernel, Brew By Numbers, Beavertown and Brewdog. I wasn’t feeling homesick just yet but it was great to see the party in full swing and our beers going down so well with the locals and visitors. Although we didn’t go in; an underground passage links Mikkeller and Friends to another of Mikkeller’s bars, Koelschip, specialising in some of the best and rarest lambic beers available.
Between sessions at CBC on the first day we hot stepped down to Fermentoren a few minute down the road. Seeing the queue outside Warpigs it didn’t seem worth it. We would be queuing for beer enough on this trip. Inside Fermentoren is a dark and dingy bar but externally it had a fantastic suntrap of a seating area. Managing to be ahead of the competition we got a bench outside before it started to fill up. The beer was in good form and there was a buzz among the crowd enjoying the fantastic weather. Sleeves up and sunglasses on, sours were the order of the day; keeping the alcohol levels up between sessions.
Having failed to get seated at Ramen To Bíiru – Nørrebro on the day prior we assumed it may be a bit quieter toward Vesterbro to the west, so headed to Mikkeller’s Ramen restaurant over that way after CBC session two. It was a long, walk so we wandered into what looked like a local convenience store which turned out to be KIHOSKH; a local convenience store with an amazing selection of beers. We grabbed some tall boys to enjoy for the rest of the walk. I’d never had ramen before but it was delicious and fun to order using the vending machines installed in the restaurant. Juicy noodles in a spicy broth paired with a sublime yuzu pilsner; sharp, crisp and incredibly refreshing. You couldn’t ask for more.
After food we headed up to Mikkeller on Viktoriagade. It was small inside but a large seating area spilled out into the street. There was a great buzz. The tap list was heavy with Big Worster (Blueberry Edition); an 18.3% barley wine tipping the scales. Why would I not order this? It was dense and boozy and tasted like jam straight from the jar. I first had Big Worster (Malaga edition) at the first Indy Man Beer Con I attended and it pushed me over the edge. By starting drinking at 10am the proverbial edge was long gone, or no longer existed.
The next day started well, with alcohol levels keeping a nasty hangover at bay, we were back at CBC for 10am. For lunch, we headed up to the foodmarket at Torvelhallerne as it was also the location of the Mikkeller and Friends Bottle Shop. The weather was still glorious so we picked up some cans of To Øl Sur Mosaic and Sur Mosaic and parked ourselves on the benches outside. The tacos being served looked and smelt delicious and I couldn’t help ordering myself a portion. One was salt-cured cod skin that perfectly complimented the sour beer that was being drunk. The return to CBC involved another quick stop at Ørsted Ølbar for a game of darts and more Lervig.
Following on from the final session at CBC and some food we checked out Ølbutikken; a local bottle shop en route to returning to Mikkeller on Viktoriagade for some more big beers such as Mikkeller’s Beer Geek Cocoa Shake and Boneyards Notorious IIIPA. These may or may not have been “Black ‘n’ Tanned”. A few beers down and the group split before the infamous visit to Warpigs. Warpigs has a great look. The food is highly regarded and the beer is amazing but it also has a unique look that makes it stand out in a city full of great places for beer. The former meat market looks like it still could be a meat market and after all the dancing (and swinging from the pipes) the butchers would rock up ready to sell their racks of lamb, sausages links and pounds of mince
Waking up on the morning we travelled home I was possibly still drunk enough to ward a hangover off so after an unsuccessful search for my phone and some breakfast we returned to where our whole adventure began: Taphouse. With little time left a large BA Barley Wine from Evil Twin was placed in front of me at the bar. There was little point in slowing down now. Squeezing in a couple of beers before the flight home was a perfect bookend to what was a fantastic trip.
I hope this post has convinced you to take the trip to Copenhagen; whether for CBC or not, because you will not regret it. The beer, the food, the people and the general atmosphere is amazing and I can’t wait to return in the future.
Note: Photos courtesy of myself (when I could operate a camera) and Paul Abram