Archive for the ‘Denmark’ Category

Jul 003

According to a campaign in the Danish newspapers, there will be 1450 new jobs in Denmark if the taxes on beer and soft drinks are cut by half.  They will buy their cans and bottles at home instead of leaving their money at the border shops in Germany.

I am not able to find any signs of this in the reports of a new government package of measures to boost growth in Denmark.

Because there are other factors, too. If you compare to most countries, the taxes are pretty low today. And the Danes do eat and drink far too much for their own good already. What is good for Carlsberg is not neccecarily good for Danish public health.

And I wonder if those who paid for the ad considered how many Danish jobs are dependent on the border trade from Sweden and Norway. Probably around 1450.

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I’m on my way to Stockholm. A city I used to visit several times a year. A beautiful place, both summer and winter. And a city that has a number of beer pubs with a splendid reputation. I have hardly visited since I started blogging, and not at all since I moved over to the WordPress platform.

A train journey this time around. Then I finally have the time to read Pete Brown’s book.

The blog homebru net Scandinavia has counted 400 new Swedish beers in 2012. (Check out their blog. A great resource for documentation on new breweries).

Add that to the figures for Norway and Denmark, and we end up with about 1400 new Scandinavian beers last year.

Who’s gonna drink it all?

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756 new Danish beers in 2012 is an all time high. But 220 new Norwegian beers ain’t half bad, either. Lots of them only on sale locally, so there are strong incentives for Norwegian beer tourism.

And this is just the start. There are a number of new breweries starting up over the coming months. My prediction is that we will see one hundred Norwegian breweries before the wave peaks.

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There are speedy ways of getting to your destination, this usually involves a plane plus various means of transit at either end.  There are cheap ways of getting around, in Scandinavia this would often mean an express bus. Not very comfortable, at least not if this lasts for many hours.

Then there are comfortable ways.

The Oslo-Copenhagen ferry is one of them.

While the ferries to Jutland are basic no-frills transportation with some excessive drinking thrown in, this route is more civilized, at least if you avoid the Christmas season. It’s been some years since my last voyage, and I was pleasantly surprised.

There are two ferries on the route, both departing in the afternoon and arriving just before ten in the morning. The cabins are standard size, but the beds are comfortable. The food is good, even the buffet restaurant, which often is the option for bulk eating rather than finesse, had a fine range of delicacies.

That’s the praise.

But there is room for improvement.

They could have a better beer range.

Apart from the usual Carlsberg stuff in bottles and cans, there are quite a few beers from the Skands brewery. Lagers, stouts, and IPA, an abbey ale. Looks good, but, frankly, these are too boring.

My proposal: Add beers from one or two of the more prolific Danish and Norwegian breweries. I would suggest Ægir from Norway and Hornbeer or Amager from Denmark. The Skands beers are fine for the unexperienced palate, but give us something a bit more challenging.

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There are many pubs and bars that do a brisk trade during the winter months, but are more or less deserted during the winter. Even if the beer range may be limited, we tend to seek out beer gardens or other outdoor watering holes when weather or temperature permits. The vaulted cellars are more appealing when there is a need for a warm fireplace in the corner.

A charming place to have a beer or two is the courtyard at BrewPub Copenhagen, just a few feet away from the busy streets filled with locals and tourists. Large parasols shield you from the sun if you wish, and they are sturdy enough to cope with a rain shower as well. Painted walls that remind you of Italian palaces.

I have eaten here on several occasions, and their lunchtime dishes are great. A bit pricey, sure, but you get real quality for your money. There is a good list of bottled beers to choose from, too, right now with lighter summer brews.

Their home brews are a bit hit and miss, with rather mundane examples of Weisse and pilsener and ales which are very moderately hopped. The beers are not bad, but they are not up to the general standard you expect in what has become a major beer destination.

Right now, there is an exception. The Roadster XK 50 barley wine.

Hazy brown, thin head, lazy carbonation. Loads of maltiness, generous amount of hops to balance. Some warming alcohol, true to style sweetness that does not get too sticky. And the plate of ripe cheeses with nuts and olives was a match made in heaven. I believe this beer is on sale for a limited time, well worth seeking out if you are in town.

Note that they are closed on Sundays.

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I did not set up a list of favourites from the Copenhagen Beer Celebration, even though both the 20 year old sour ale from de Struise and the spontaneous blueberry from Mikkeller were standouts.

In the weeks after the events, I have particularly enjoyed two beers.

RyeKing from the Copenhagen brewery Amager Bryghus was one of the beers I picked up at Ølbutikken. It has an intense flavour of liquorice and liquid sour Russian rye bread, a little salt and a deep bitterness. There is a malty body that is able to cope with all of this and balance it in a strange way.

Charcoal in the dry finish. Mouth-watering, and a great candidate for further barrel aging.

The other one has mixed origins. Italian Gypsy brewery Revelation Cat brew their lambics in Belgium and then transport them to Italy for aging and blending. Their Islay lambic has a clean whisky aroma, and when you sip you find a lovely lambic laced with peaty smoke. Exciting – I won’t claim that his is a major trend for beer in 2012 (though I told you barrel aging would be the Big Thing), but this certainly shows that there still are new roads to explore. Nice sour tail and a smoke flavour I haven’t really felt since my last packet of John Player’s Special several decades ago.

Available at Schouskjelleren, Oslo, right now,  I’m sure it will also pop up in London, Copenhagen and Rome.

Revelation Cat Islay

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A few beers from the Ørbæk brewery in Denmark are now available in Norway, both through Vinmonopolet and in selected restaurants and bars. I’ve been toild there are more beers to come.

The Fynsk Forår is soft and round, brewed with elderberry flowers and wheat malt. The flowers blend well into the wheat, and there is a nice little citrus sting in the finish.

If you crave a wheat beer on a hot day, this can certainly do the trick. Personally, I would have prefered a drier version with more hops, but there is nothing wrong with this.

The other two beers are also at session strength – about 5%. The Dark Horse is a Schwatzbier, with a nice tone of roasted malt. A dry mouth feel, it avoids the sticky maltiness you often find in German versions.

The Ørbæk IPA is glowing gold with a firm rocky head. Bittersweet, light and refreshing. Herbs, a whiff of forest pines. Not in any way extreme, but very pleasant. Of the three, this is the one I would go for as my summer tipple.

Attractive 0,5 liter bottles. And organic, it that is important to you.

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