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Posts Tagged ‘Copenhagen Beer Festival’

I try not to read too much of the advance buzz about the Copenhagen Beer Festival this weekend. Sure, I know that Three Floyds are in town. That there will be a Zillion new beers from Mikkeller. That Nøgne Ø have some real rarities.

But I’m not going this year.

but at least I can make a recommendation.

The new Ølbutikken store is open for business. They used to have a small kiosk that was filled when there were more than four customers at a time. Now they have bright and airy shop filled with fridges. The very best of Danish micros – plus a mind-blowing range of imports from Europe and the US. The best selection in Europe? At least one of the top 5.

For a small extra charge you can even sit down by the large table in the centre of the shop and enjoy a beer if the shopping exhausts you.

I am sure there will be special offers during the festival, and they will probably sell out of some beers. Better, perhaps, to visit during a hot day later in the year. Drink a bottle of their house brew, Istedgade Hipster Ale. Hoppy, refreshing, unpretentious. And then consider if you really need that huge Belgian bottle. You’ll never know if it’s the last time you’ll get the chance…

It is in Istedgade, just to the back of the Central Station. Don’t worry about the sex shops. This is Denmark, after all.

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Ølfestival posterFor those of us who like to plan ahead, the dates for the Copenhagen Beer Festival 2011 have just been published. 26-28 May, meaning Thursday-Saturday. The venue is Tap1 in the old Carlsberg brewery just as this year.

Tickets will go on sale 1. December.

If you buy your tickets in advance, you’ll get in one hour earlier than if you buy them at the door.

And the organizers promise better food than this year.

Thanks to beerticker.dk for the tip.

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The major improvement from last year was that there was enough oxygen for people to feel well. At some stage it was almost windy inside, but it is far better to put on a jacket than having to venture outside at regular intervals to avoid a headache. I am pleased that they have a contract for having the festival at the same place next year.

My only real complaint this year is about the food. The options were grilles sausage and grilled sausage. They came with bread or potato salad. 50 Danish kroner for a miserable meal was not a bargain. Additionally there were very long lines to be able to buy food. Sure, you can go to the pizza place down the road, but two years ago there was splendid food to be had. If there are limits to what you can offer in the way of hot food, at least there could be a range of sandwiches?

What else?

Friendly locals, a big thanks to all the volunteers who spent so much of their spare time setting up and rigging down, managing tickets and tokens, doing all the small things you only notice when they don’t work. The Danish Beer Enthusiasts now have the experience of enough festivals to have the necessary routines.

No dates for next year are public yet, but I expect to see you in front of the elephants in May!

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As I said, there was no clear trend at the festival. Sometimes everyone rushes to brew, say, smoked beers, but not this time around.

Among my personal favourites were a saison variety from Brooklyn Brewery, Sorhathi, and a series of lambic beers brewed with a variety of hops from Revelation Cat.

Eklipse, a splendid pale ale from Djævlebryg at 4.5% abv, meaning a session beer from this brewery in addition to their mighty imperial stouts. A few more beers in their stable, and you could have a bar devoted exclusively to Djævlebryg. (Sure, it would probably have a rather satanic style..)

Great stuff from De Molen, their limited stuff seemed to sell out very fast.

A splendid imperial stout from Midtfyen, a brewery I have to explore a bit further.

Harvey’s Prince of Denmark, was one of a long list of choices of British ales from OnePint.

And several many very good beers from the two breweries with the broadest range at the festival, Nørrebro Bryghus and Mikkeller.

I’ve been pleasantly surprised by Hornbeer at the last two festivals, they were not as consistently excellent this year. A nice Oak Aged Cranberry Bastard, but their Czech pilsener was actually the only beer at the festival I was unable to finish. Porridge.

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Of course beer festivals are about beer. But they are also very social events, and they are very pleasant opportunities to catch up with people you seldom meet outside of cyberspace. A very friendly and generous bunch.

Two years ago there were lots of bloggers present, this year I think the Beer Nut and I were the only English language bloggers present. There were probably Swedish bloggers around, but I don’t know them by sight. Perhaps a blogger meetup is something to consider next year.

Then there are , of course, the brewers. James from BrewDog was there with a merry crew, and they seemed to do a brisk trade. No special beers for the festival, but I think this was the Danish launch of both the Penguin and the Bismarck. Here the roles were reversed, as I was the one being interviewed for their video blog.

There are probably some photos of me with the BrewDog crew taken at the Mikkeller bar as well. I’ll get back to that.

The importers of Brooklyn beer had Garrett Oliver, no less, manning their stand, where he happily dispensed samples of some of their more innovative beers. No time for any long conversation, of course, but at least I could give my appreciation for him mingling with us mortals.

Another legend was als there, Anders Kissmeyer of Nørrebro Bryghus. As was reported recently, he has been forced to step down as manager of the brewery. They have been sensible enough to keep him as an adviser and ambassador of the brewery, and it was nice to be able to pay tribute to one of the founders of the Scandinavian craft beer movement.

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I’m not sure how to dispence the impressions over a series of blog posts. Luckily there weren’t that many of the English language bloggers around, meaning there is a rush to post first.

I had great expectations for this. Ther organizers had kindly provided the more desparate among us with an pdf of the programme, including a beer list.  This meant I was able to plan ahead, marking off a number of beers I wanted to try. (I have stopped finding must haves, as this only leads to frustration and misery.)

After a pleasant lunch at BrewPub – where there was a number of familiar faces, I set out for the Festival. The venue was the old Carlsberg brewery, just as for the festival two years ago. The hall they used this year was better suited for the purpose, having both proper ventilation and toilet facilities.

So. An application for press accreditation did not mean much pampering, but at least I was able to bypass the queue and get an overview before things got too packed.

The ambitions this year were a bit more modest than in 2008, which meant fewer stands and less foreign beers. I would not know how many of the around 100 Danish breweries were present, but all the major players were there. Some importers, the most interesting of them having invited breweries from countries like Canada and Belgium along. BrewDog was there, (nuclear) penguins and all, Italian avant garde brewery Revelation Cat, De Molen were present with some limited releases ensuring a constant line of fans lining up most of the time.

Nørrebro Bryghus had an enormous range of beers as they tend to have at festivals, Mikkeller had dozens of new beers, Amager and Hornbeer were strongly present as well.

I found it hard to spot any general trends. There is a lot of barrel aging going on, there are lots of strong beers, but generally the whole spectrum is covered.

The tickers had a stand for themselves – the organizers had kindly donated some space for RateBeer members from across Europe. Some spent most of their time there, others used it as a base for exploring the festival. 10 cl sampler glasses make these events very ticker friendly.

Tickers at work

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It is available online now. Thanks, once again, to beerticker.dk for informing about this. Every country should have one.

Copenhagen Festival Programme

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