May next year will be a busy period for those of us in Northern Europe who take our beer drinking seriously. I’m not referring to the opportunity to drink beer Al fresco after hibernating through a long winter, but to the fact that there will be more beer festivals than most of us will have the capacity to attend.
Because the festival market is changing. Maturing is perhaps the word some marketing men would use. Sure, there will be a big festival in Copenhagen as usual. 10-12 May. At the old Carlsberg brewery. You’ll find breweries large and small, with more beers than you would probably want to try. (It is amazing how many over priced locally brewed pale lagers the Danish market can absorb.) The tickets are on sale, check out their web site for details.
But, more interesting, there will be a competing event. The Mikkeller brand is firmly established in the beer world, primarily with the gypsy brewery using spare facilities and guest brewing at craft breweries around the globe. The Mikkeller bar in Copenhagen seems to be a hit as well, with their own brews as well as imports you thought were beyond your reach.
The next step is the Copenhagen Beer Celebration. 11-12. May in another area of Copenhagen – close to the football area if that helps you get oriented. Not aiming for a world record for beer tickers, it is limited to 250 beers from 30 breweries. The 30 (depending how you count) are of course hand-picked:
They are obviously aiming for the hard-core of the beer fans. 1000 tickets were available for each day, and they sold out in two weeks – I believe the tickets for the Saturday sold out in hours.
At 300 Danish Kroner they were not dirt cheap, but the price even includes a high quality meal with food and beer pairings. They could easily have asked twice the price if they had included a few exclusive bottles in the package.
It should not come as a surprise that this appeals to me – I have my tickets for both Friday and Saturday.
I am sure the Danish Beer Enthusiasts are worried. This means a loss of one thousand potential customers per day, the customers who are going for the daring and extreme beers. Their festivals have been through some tough times in recent years, – I have sympathy for them. At the same time, they have not been a centre of innovation lately. Like CAMRA they seem to be seriously good at facing the challenges of a decade or two ago.
I hope there will be a place for both festivals, but in the end it is the most successful business model that will win.