Craft beer adventures and experiences… one pint at a time

Posts tagged ‘Copenhagen’

Danish Craft Beer sampling – Copenhagen

Tivoli Gardens Christmas Lights, Copenhagen

There’s nothing better that comes to mind on a frosty snowfall-infused evening than relaxing with a robust Christmas beer – and there’s no better place than Denmark to do it.  Or so I thought!  In my short 3 evenings here in Copenhagen, I finally managed to find one worthwhile Christmas beer, but more about that after I share with you my wanderings to a couple of Bryghus (brewhouses) in the area.

While the US boasts over 1600 craft breweries from coast-to-coast, Denmark has literally exploded with over 600 craft breweries within its tiny geographic area!  Can you imagine the recreation and research that would be found if one were to explore and document the findings at this many breweries over the course of several summers?  Possible vacation venues indeed!

Apollo brewhouseMy first stop after Tivoli Gardens (it felt cold to this Florida girl!) was the Apollo brewhouse restaurant where the beer specialties included two seasonal brews (a Chimney Black Pilsner and an authentic German style Alt-bier), a Christmas beer, plus the house pilsner.  I sampled the two seasonals and their Julebryg (Christmas beer):

Apollo house specialty brews

In order from left to right:

1. Christmas beer (Julebryg) – while this local specialty was better than the Tuborg Julebryg I sampled the night before, it too was a disappointment – flat, undistinctive, and an unremarkable texture and flavor.  I was happy that I had another two samples from which to choose.

2. Chimney/Smokehouse Black Pilsner called Skorstenfejer (ABV 5.0%) – I’m not a big fan of dark beers, but this one was so distinctive from the first sniff that I knew it was something special:  rich, smoky charcoal like aroma with a surprisingly smooth taste and finish.  It’s hard to describe the taste as I’ve not tasted any beer like this before.  I anticipated that the smoke might be overpowering but it enhanced the flavor creating memories of other smokey adventures involving grilling in the outdoors.  This Black gold was a perfect pairing for the specialty Roast Duck dinner I ordered (duck accompanied by a light gravy, slivered beets, and baby potatoes), and I was happy to have ordered them both.

Black pilsner and roast duck - yum!

3. German Style Altbier (ABV 5.1%) – there’s no mistaking an authentic altbier made in the German style if you inhale the aroma before you taste it.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that this brew was true to form – and had a rich taste to match.

After dinner, I headed across the street to find the Vesterbro Bryghus which also features local brew specialties.  I haven’t ever seen a brewhouse with wild boar heads on the wall, so I knew that this was not your typical brewpub.

Vesterbro BryghusWhen I asked for a small taste of 3 of their local varieties (Blond, Amber and Julebryg), the server informed me that I would have to have their entire sampler tray which also came with Tuborg’s Christmas and the regular factory beer Carlsberg.  It took a bit of convincing but she finally agreed to give me a finger height sample of each in a small glass, and to my delight, I finally found their Christmas beer reasonable.

Anchor Steam Holiday Ale (36th Year)p.s., Since returning home, I had the good fortune to try the new Anchor Steam Holiday Ale (ABV 5.5%) on draught – the 36th year of the top-secret recipe holiday brew.  And, it was the closest taste to the Norwegian Christmas taste that I’ve been looking to find.  Dark, smooth, Christmas-like aroma (cloves, nutmeg, nutty), and a lingering finish that reminds one of cold nights in front of a hot fire – up north of course!

Until the next pint – enjoy your holiday season!

An unOfficial beer goddess…


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Tuborg Julebyrg (Christmas beer)

Greetings from Copenhagen!

Tuborg Julebryg

I have to say that this was a huge disappointment in terms of Christmas beer… perhaps I am becoming more critical in terms of my expectations of Christmas beers (or spoiled by the array of seasonals now available in the U.S.).  I anticipated from the coloration that this would measure up to the Norwegian Christmas beers of seasons past in terms of full-bodied and caramel taste, but it unfortunately, did not.  (Note to friends in the US – you are not missing anything here.)  Measuring in at 5.6% ABV, the pouring was wonderful only  in color, but the aroma (non-distinctive), taste (bland), and overall experience made for a forgettable experience. The best thing about this pour was that there was gentle snowflakes falling outside!

BUT… all is not lost as I sampled a second, surprisingly good second pour – none other than a Carlsberg (yes, a Danish institutional brewery) Carl’s Special Golden Ale (see photo below).

Carl's Special Golden AleThis brew was definitively caramel in aroma with a hint of molasses and competes with some of the nicest craft amber/golden ales I’ve tasted here or in the U.S.  I anticipated a much more industrial (mass-produced) flavor having had the Tuborg immediately before.  But the Carl’s Special IS special – full-bodied, refreshing with caramel/toffee aftertones.  (Hmmm… hints to Budweiser – if Carlsberg can do a good job on a specialty amber, perhaps there is hope?)  Carl’s Special Golden Ale measured in at a respectable 4.6% ABV but packed taste rivaling a much more robust brew.

Recommendation: If you happen to be in these Scandinavian parts anytime soon, the Carl’s Special Golden Ale is definitely worth the price of a pint!

Next post — Microbrewery visits in Copenhagen and the Christmas lights of Tivoli Gardens at night.

Until the next pint,

An unOfficial beer goddess.


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Cigar City Brewing needs your help

Cigar City BrewingOne of Tampa‘s newest craft breweries, Cigar City Brewing, is under siege to keep its Tasting Room open.  Less than 2 years old, the brewery has won awards from Draft magazine and continues to garner fans across the country who carry bottles countrywide since the brewery now ships only to a few eastern states.

Vote by clicking here to keep the Tasting Room open!

Tasting Menu Nov 2010The Tasting Room has an interesting current (November 2010) tasting menu – at the top is their award-winning Jai Alai IPA (7.5% ABV) and their cedar aged version of the same beer their Humidor IPA (also 7.5% ABV).

One of my favorites on their current menu is the Tocobaga Red (7.2% ABV) – it is as smooth as my other favorite amber beer on tap – Alaskan Amber.

An interesting limited edition brew set (2 different brews) is the “Either” and “Or” brews (11.2% ABV). According to the Tasting Room’s Travis, Either and Or is the result of a collaborative project of 3 breweries:  the same recipe was used for both brews.  Cigar City Brewing made the one batch, while a partnership of a Vermont brewery and a Copenhagen brewery made the second. The water and recipe are identical (both were brewed onsite in Tampa) but the hops are different.  While both Either and Or are 11.2% ABV, my taste buds gave a totally different experience from each:

  • “Either” tasted to me like a deep Chocolatey Stout style ale (is that the proper way to describe it?),  and
  • “Or” reminded me of Norwegian Christmas beers (which would be great with gingerbread).

Raw ingredientsI was amazed (but not surprised) at the difference that the hops brought to the same recipe beers. Either and Or are available in limited release for the next couple of weeks for $7.50 for a 12 oz bottle from the Tasting Room.

The next collaborative project will result in a New Year brew set called “Neither” and “Nor”.  Watch for it in early 2011!

Please vote to keep the Cigar City Tasting Room open – even if you don’t live in Tampa!

Until the next pint,

UnOfficial beer goddess.


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