Friday, 4 June 2010

Copenhagen Carlsberg Free Zones - Part I

Let's get the money bit out of the way first. Copenhagen, like most of Scandinavia, is not a cheap place for us Brits. The average cost of a (small*) half pint is about £4. But we're not talking about your average Carlsberg swill here. Oh no, we're talking about the new wave of small craft brewers that have invaded Northern Europe in the last few years, and specifically in this blog, in Copenhagen.

We were travelling through Copenhagen and so hastily planned a visit to 3 establishments, Mikkeller Bar, BrewPub and Norrebro Bryghus

Right, on to the serious stuff. Mikkeller just happened to be a couple of minutes from our hotel (excellent planning Mike!) which itself is 5 minutes from the Central Station. It's in the red-light district which is supposed to be cleaning itself up. But it's still pretty grim. The strange thing to me is how ordinary people go about their normal lives with this around them. But safe enough provided you're not on your own. The bar itself can be easily missed as it's in a basement. But once inside you can relax. Nice and clean, if minimally decked out. This is a beer geek's paradise as was evidenced by the number of beards and laptops. There are 6 tables and seating around the bar and one wall. The only food on offer was, rather oddly, Tyrrell's crisps, but at £4 a packet I saved my money for the beer, of-course.Loads of beers on draft (how do they keep them?!*). Beer#1 was the Vesterbro Pilsner. Well you've got to start somewhere and rather than jump straight in at the heavy end I was in need of travelling refreshment and this hit the spot! Beer#2 My partner had the Vesterbro Wit (wheat beer) which, again, was extremely refreshing with a very (overwhelming?) lychee flavour. But she loved it.

Suitably refreshed, straight onto the big boys. Beer#3. Victoria. An 8.8% porter. Well, despite the pleasure of Beer#4, this was my favourite of the night. Not too sweet, coffee and chocolate and I also had fruit. Anne liked this (no coal-tar in this porter!) It's a shame she still prefers porters in Christmas puddings though!

Finally, Beer#4 - George. A 12.12% super-heavyweight imperial stout. I don't know if a dreamed this or not but the "George" is of the Foreman variety and 12.12% is equivalent to 12 stones and 12 pounds which was one of his starting fight weights. But I don't care and neither should you. Full-bodied, smooth and a cure for the common-cold (well, not quite, but it postponed mine for at least 24 hours). It had a very low carbination which I don't mind at all, velvet oil with a dark brown head. I struggled a bit with the taste (which is why I preferred Victoria) but the usual suspects applied, albeit with little fruitiness. Nectar.

So a great start, and I even managed to squeeze a second visit to Mikkeller the following day. A review of the other 2 "Carlsberg Free Zones" later...

Small. Half a pint is 28.4cl. A "half" in Europe is normally 25cl hence the "small" half. Note that some pubs chose to serve their beers in 20cl measures or "super-small" to you and me.

How do they keep them?! If any bright spark can summarise how these beers are different from cask-conditioned stuff I'd like to know. One obvious difference to me is that they are kept and served cooler than cask beer. Does that help keep them longer? Answers on a post card to...


  1. what hotel did you stay at?

  2. Hi Eric. Sorry for slow reply. Hotel was the Absalon It was fine. The inside rooms at least. (ie a bit noisy on the street)