Monday 6 May 2013

Copenhagen Beer Celebration 2013

By all accounts, it looks like going to Copenhagen for CBC rather than London for London's Brewing might have been the right choice – although on arriving at the venue, just up the street from the Copenhagen FC stadium, it wasn't entirely clear that this would be the case...

Aptly named: Mine Is Bigger Than Yours
Let's just say the venue appeared pretty basic. From the outside it looked like a building site with extra portaloos, while on the inside it resembled a disused tube station with no rails (or platforms) but with less charm. Most of the bars were just tables with tall keg tap-boxes mounted on them. Those around the walls at least had a space to put up a poster or something, while those on the centre 'island' just backed onto an open area with chairs, tables and luggage strewn around. It was also rather noisy, with little to deaden the sound apart from some industrial carpet and a few hundred bodies.

BrewDog's Berliner Weisse
And yet it was great! There were tables and benches for the early arrivals – or those with all-session tickets – a friendly atmosphere, and plenty of beer. Mostly keg but there was some in cask, from Siren Craft Brewing which has feet in both Britain and Denmark – it was set up in Berkshire, England, by the former head brewer of Denmark's Fanø Brewery, who just to confuse things is American. Anyway, I digress – which I try to do less of in writing than I do in person...

The crowd, as I'd guessed from seeing both photos of the Friday sessions and what the Copenhagen craft beer scene's like anyway, was pretty hipsterish. I spotted several sideburns, a Mohican and even a couple of those Amish/Salafist-like moustacheless beards. 

Chinese Imperial Stout
Although the Danish language predominated, there was a lot of English spoken - not least perhaps because half of the breweries present were US. The rest were a world-wide selection, with (I think) one each from Australia, Brazil, Japan, mainland China, the Netherlands, Norway and New Zealand. Just four Danish breweries were present, the same number as from the UK.

Westbrook Mexican Cake
The idea was roughly this: 30-odd (actually 29) breweries bring nine beers each, and present three at each of the three sessions. In theory each session had a completely different beer list, but in practice several breweries ran one or more beers over multiple sessions. So there may have been more than 90 on when we arrived.  

But 90 beers for a five-hour session?! Even if you didn't take any time out to eat or go to the loo – the latter meaning a trip outside to the portaloos – that's still one every three minutes. Service was generally fast, and servings varied from 50-100ml, so around a tenth of a UK pint, but still...

Argh! My deMolen Rotting Carcass!
I think I managed to taste about two dozen – my notetaking got a bit wobbly as things progressed – so I did at least cover most of the breweries. They varied from the deliciously refreshing Kernel's London Sour (a Berliner Weisse) at 2.3% to a rich and warming 11% Cigar City Hunahpu's 2012. Sadly, I missed out on Three Floyd's Vanilla Bean Dark Lord (14%) and Mikkeller's X Big Tony 2006 (15%). My notes will gradually make their way onto Ratebeer as time allows.

Almost the complete range of beer styles was represented. Lots of IPAs and Pale Ales of course, and also lots of Porter and Stout – there is definitely a huge interest in Denmark in dark beer at the moment, even supermarkets have shelves full of locally-brewed examples. There were also sour Lambic types with and without fruit, spice and veg beers, coffee and tea beers (Siren's Chai Love You a Latté was good though well-odd) and of course lots of high strength Double or Imperial versions of the above. The only thing I can think of that was absent was Mild. (That's Denmark's loss, mind you.)

A T-Rex among cheeses
And it wasn't just beer – a local coffee roastery was offering sample brews, as was a Danish maker of very tasty cherry wine. There was food too, with my favourite being the cheese merchant. You know how there's Stout, then Imperial Stout, then Double Imperial Stout? Well, this deliquescent scoopable gem is Double Imperial Danish Blue cheese...

Would I recommend it? Absolutely! (That's the beer festival as well as the cheese...) Admittedly it's a bit of a sensory overload, and the signposting of who's where could have been better, but the range and quality were excellent.  There was even free WiFi, though fortunately I'd a local SIM card in my phone by then, and the 3G signal was fine. 

Many many thanks to Martin for sourcing me a ticket, and to him, Marty and Conny for being good drinking company...

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