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!
My 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):
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.
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.
When 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.
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…