Tuesday 29 May 2012

The Copenhagen Beer Celebration Road Trip!


Hello everybody, this is the intro for this story, why an intro you say? Well we got so many impressions from this trip that this is a hopeless attempt to separate them and categorise them, so that this will be easier for you the reader. I could and probably should separate this into more stories, but new stuff is coming up so I need to clear my slate here...

It all started back in September/October 2011 when we first heard about this event, I started a facebook group/event and encouraged lots of local people to join in. When the tickets was put out for sale the 11.11.11 at 11:11 both me and Kjetil sat ready on our computers at work, it was a rush and Kjetil was first able to get through and score tickets. That was exactly half a year before the festival was scheduled. Then later we decided to visit the Sour & Bitter festival also, cause two days of drinking after all is just two days...

The Road Trip:

Just two guys out on a road trip, drinking beer, meeting people and shopping, nothing strange about that! Did you say shopping? Yes, beer shopping of course. If you gaze for long into a beer, the beer gazes also into you! And when you drink Imperial Stout after Imperial Stout for five beer fuelled days, all blacker than Satan’s blackest heart, darkness must come one way or another... ...NOT! Kjetil and me started our little journey straight after work Tuesday afternoon. We headed out on the highway, if there is such a thing in Norway, and set the destination for Patricks Pub in Kristiansand. We spent the night in bunk beds at the luxurious Budget "Hotel" in Kristiansand before driving down to Aalborg for a beer run at Ølkonsortiet, we had a little break in Aalborg, before heading straight for Ølbutikken & Mikkeller bar in Copenhagen. We stayed at the not so amazing "Absalon" one star hotel, but whatever we didn't spend many hours there. Let's talk about some of the wonderful places we visited.

Patricks Pub & Restaurant:

Bartender & Erik Dahl of VANØ at Patricks back room.

Patricks Pub calls themselves an Irish pub and I think that’s hilarious, cause there's no positive references in my head to Irish pubs or the shit they serve. Look beside the Irish decor and the name and there's nothing here resembling an Irish pub. A Kilkenny & Guinness tap might be enough for some people to call it an Irish pub, but I couldn't care less, all pubs serve that crap anyways, but what Patricks actually is good at is Craft Beer. I would like to Honor them with the title Craft Beer Bar, sure it's not all craft beer, and as it is today they probably wouldn't survive without their CB beer. But one look at the shelves and a couple of words with the bartender and you know that’s not where their love and passion lies. A quick look in the menu and I concluded that everything is as it was the last time I visited Patricks back in October 2011. But no, they have a monthly special menu, with the newest beer selection, most of it limited and in constant rotation. We met up with Erik Dahl of "Venner av Nøgne Ø" and he gave me a little tour of the back room together with one of the bartenders. There I found some exciting little treats I hadn't tried before. So you understand what great beer selection this place had I will list up some of what we had had on our night at Patricks: 8 Wired Batch 18 a Barrel Aged Imperial Stout, the first of many stouts we had on this trip, really heavy on the wood, quite nice. Brewdog Abstrakt AB:07 a Whisky cask aged Imperial Scotch Ale, limited to 4.200 bottles. Mikkeller Black Hole Barrel Aged Edition Red Wine, a quite unique beer experience, something to convert wine lovers maybe? Nøgne Ø/Terrapin Imperial Rye Porter on tap, maybe one of my favourite beers so far this year, I've mentioned it in other articles but I don't mind repeating myself when saying this is a world class Porter. Just as full bodied as Midtfyns X-Porter, with a great mouth feel, balanced and luxurious as hell! Not only did we hang out with Erik Dahl of VANØ at Particks, but an old friend of mine and Kjetil, Bjørn and his girlfriend Eva also joined us. Later former Manager of Patricks and friend of Erik Dahl also joined us and that brings us into the next chapter. But anyways, Patricks is the place to be in Kristiansand!

Christianssand Brygghus:

Lars infront of the brand new brewery.

Former Patricks manager Lars Kristian Amundsen offered us a little tour of what is to become Christianssand Brygghus. He told us that the plan is to open in August/September I think. The brewery is at 500 liter and will soon be put to the test so beer will be ready and stored before the opening. To get the right brewpub feeling the tanks and the brewery will be visible from the restaurant, they also plan a backyard under open skies, where you can smoke a cigar while sipping on some Iconoclastic Imperial Stout. Hops might be growing on the walls for decoration, maybe something to use for a hop smoked beer? I expect this place to also have great food and a great beer selection, both their own and from other great breweries and I'm really looking forward to visiting them when they open. Cheers!


Svend & friend.

Ølkonsortiet have existed around 8 years, the shop is run by owner Svend Nymann and some of his friends. Everyone there works for free, it's a non-profit business, and it's only open 3 days a week. They were kind enough to open just for us on a day they were supposed to be closed, and Sven himself came down in his break at his "paying" job to say hello. We got something good in our glasses and started digging in the shelves. Cigar City, Mikkeller, Emelisse, Lagunitas, Evil Twin & more. But one thing that bummed me out was that they had sold all of their Bourbon County Stouts from Goose Island to just one guy. A treat like that is rare in Europe and Ølkonsortiet have nothing to win on just giving it all away to one greedy FUCK! guy. So when we were there lots of boxes was filled with yummy Goose Island stuff and we couldn't buy any of them! But we still left with skinnier wallets that we came with, a trunk full of beer and with smiles on our faces. We will return to Ølkonsortiet, but first we will call them and "lay off" all the really good beers before anyone else can buy them, kidding! Ølkonsortiet was/is rated as the 3rd best bottle shop in Europe, and it’s run by geeks, and that’s the way we like it! (Cause we're geeks too!) The negative part of this little section are just me being a whiny boy so disregard it, cheers Svend, keep up the good work!

Mikkeller bar:

Shady looking boys with Tom "Kjempetorsken" Young.

If there were a bar at the end of the world, inches away from the edge, that would be Mikkeller bar. People from far away would travel here to tell tales of infinite wisdom and share magic elixirs. Brewed up by artists and wizards from all the seven continents of the world. I don't know if I would say that Copenhagen is at the edge of the world, but the selection at Mikkeller bar certainly is out-of-worldly, they have beers from all four corners of the known brewing universe. As the last time we visited this beer Mecca the 20 taps are still there, and they're ever changing, we're talking Mikkeller, Evil Twin, Dark Horse, Cantillion, Three Floyds, Rogue, Pizza Port and more. But what really made my week was their extremely great bottle selection, the vintage bottle selection that is. Some of the vintage beers we enjoyed here was the Goose Island Bourbon County Stout 2008 & 2010, Three Floyds Dark Lord 2008 (Most expensive beer I've ever bought, 650 DK), we compared Orval 2006 & 2007 both looks and tastes differently, we compared Dark Horizon 2nd edition & 3rd edition, I like the 3rd edition the most and so did the 3 others I shared them with. We also had a revisit of the great beers Tyttebær, Sweet & Red Horizon from Nøgne Ø, rare indeed. 

Andrew & Elsa of Nøgne Ø at Mikkeller Bar.

We shared a Speedway Stout from Alesmith with Elsa & Andrew from Nøgne Ø, we shared lots of great and awesome beers with Herman from Cardinal and his friend Lars, 8 wired iStout from New Zealand, Highland & Calvados edition of Mikkeller Beer Geek Brunch Weasel, and one of the highlights of the trip finally trying Hoppin Frog D.O.R.I.S. The Destroyer, an incredible beer, max score! Everywhere we've been the last year or two this beer appears in the lists, but they never have it, it's like Doris have been dodging us, another beer that have been dodging us for a long time is the Great Divide Oaked Aged Yeti, if anyone here reads this and would like to send/share one with us, please message me. I'll be indefinitely grateful! Mikkel and his brother Jeppe was also there, they preferred self-service in the bar. I met Menno from De Mollen in the bar line, we met Mike Murphy from Lervig, Tom from the Kjempetorsken blog, Mikael from Melkebaren in Sandnes, Jakob "The lord of malts" who used to review with the "Master of Hoppets" blog. We met Belgians, Americans and French people coming to Copenhagen for the sole porous of beer! We didn't meet any Germans though, reinheitsgebot, REINHEITSGEBOT!!!!!! Mikkeller Bar is awesome, a top 10 bar on this planet for any true beer geek!

Menno of De Mollen & Haffy at Mikkeller bar, very sober!


Kjetil outside Ølbutikken.

If you're anything like us, you like to do some real shopping while on "vacation", right? Located in the dirtiest corner of Copenhagen, where people come to exchange their greens for live flesh, that’s where Ølbutikken resides. Awarded best Beer retailer in the world loads of times by ratebeer, this store is owned by phantom brewer Jeppe, also known as Evil Twin, brother of Denmark's most famous phantom brewer Mikkel(ler). He also runs a "little" import company called Drikkerige that supplies Ølbutikken & Mikkeller bar with many of their extreme and rare beers. OK, you know those wet dreams you have at night? Where you just dream of awesome beers that you wish you could enjoy in the comfort of your own home, without the hassle of going to the pub or visiting the brewery. Yeah, those super great, rare and awesome beers that you would love to saviour in your cellar for years, laying there just waiting for that rainy day you need something super special, this is the kind of beers you find at Ølbutikken, 250+ beers mainly from Belgium, Denmark & USA. We're talking Alesmith, Mikkeller, Southern Tier, Lost Abbey, Evil Twin, Amager, Cantillion, Jester King, Stillwater, Brewdog, De Mollen, Hoppin Frog, 8 Wired, Green Flash and more, the list goes on, you get the picture. As far as I know this store have been at this location a bit over a year, it used to be in a smaller and more uncomfortable location before. Now you can sit down and have a break, have a beer and do some of what I call "real" shopping, this is the only way to spend your money in Istedgade!

Barley Wine:

It was crowded at Barley Wine when we came.

Since last time we visited Barley Wine their location has changed, now in a bigger & better place, with lots more room for wonderful beers. This place is much more affordable than Ølbutikken, we're talking value for money, bang for the bucks, so the next time I go to Copenhagen I will start my beer shopping here before moving on. Barley Wine got a crazy beer selection, even more than they got at Ølbutikken, Ratebeer claims 400 different brews. BW has lots of rare beers and lots of not so rare beers, but all great beers, no crap. Much more Danish microbreweries than the other stores, many of which I've never tasted or heard of. I would love to spend a week just trying different Danish microbreweries, stay at a cheap motel and just hang out, eat, drink and meet new people. Barley Wine is a great store, with good but a bit slow service, but I highly recommend you take the time and pay them a visit!

Fish & Beer:

Kjetil found some Rogue.

We had to compromise, because we bought so many beers at the first three stores mentioned, that the luggage room of the car was already full. Fish & Beer was a bit outside the centre of the town, their selection was great, and the service was OK. I was a bit disappointed that they actually didn't sell fish cause I had this very different mental image of how the place would be like, almost fairytale like. Big freezers with ice cubes and boxes with fresh fish, refrigerators with cold beer, and workers dressed in white plastic aprons packaging this stuff, tossing beer and fish back and forth while yelling to each other and having fun. They used to sell fish and beer, and the company actually still sells fish, but not in the store, but it's a great name so why not keep it. Kjetil was very happy to find a lot of Rogue we hadn't seen anywhere else here, other than that the selection were kind of like Barley Wine only less. A great store, but still not comparable with the other three stores mentioned here. Will we return? Probably not! Was it worth the trip? Yes!

Sour & Bitter:

Jeppe & Haffy at Sour & Bitter, not looking Sour or Bitter...

Far outside of town, in a run down area there is a big white building. In that building 200-300 lucky bastards gathered to share a special experience of primarily sour and bitter beers. And with the likes of 3 Fonteinen, Port Brewing/Lost Abbey, The Bruery & Pizza Port who can complain. This night was filled with wonderful and interesting beers. Bitter Stouts and IPA's from Pizza Port, they started out as a Pizza place back in 1987, but in 1992 they started to brew beer. 4 locations and a bottle shop is it, but they have a great reputation, no doubt due to their great beers, but also due to the fact that Port Brewing/Lost Abbey spun out of Pizza Port. Anyways this is beer you can't find in Europe, so I just had to try them all, all 16 of them. And they came in generous portions too. The Coffee Monster and The Barrel aged Night Rider were my favourites from them, Pizza Port beers taste a lot, their motto should be: More is more! 

Me with brewer of Pizza Port.

When we came we tried some 3 Fonteinen Framboos (The most sought after beer in the world right now!) with Jakob "The Lord of Malts", we also shared a bottle of Millenium Geuze (Bottled back in 1998) from the same brewery with Stian Krog and his VANØ Bergen friends. This is actually where I met the only jackass on the whole trip. An American holding a table for his friends, that just wasn't there, but no one could sit down, it was "their seats." There were six available spaces and this fuck asked me to get his chair back when I sat down. I so badly wanted to tell him to fuck off but Kjetil talked me out of it, my comfort is that all his friends had ditched him and that he probably had a miserable time. Yeah and hopefully the next guy he annoys like that will smack him up a bit, I'm way to nice, but I like it like that...

Us with Head Brewer Fred Karm of Hoppin Frog.

We also met Fred the head brewer of Hoppin Frog and I also talked to the head brewer of Pizza Port. We were introduced to Hanne på Høyden from Bergen, Christer "BeerNorway" showed up and so did Svend Nyman from Ølkonsortiet. We had a great time talking with these people and others. Before the end I bought my Framboos to go, Jeppe himself was the dealer, cash only in the back of a white unmarked van parked in the alley, now I'm trading two of them for a Dark Horizon 1st edition & Stormaktsporter and some other great beers. I also decided to try all the Lost Abbey stuff, and the guys in the bar was cool enough to let me pour my own beers as I tried my way through them. 

This picture speaks for itself on the state of the photographer.

At this point I started getting drunk as a consequence to all the awesome beers I'd been drinking, and I don't really have much more to add. Sour & Bitter was awesome, so my hang over the day after was quite evil, I felt like dying! I actually think I almost did. But what doesn't kill you simply makes you stranger...

Die By The Beer with BeerNorway!


Dan Shelton & Mike Murphy

After Sour & Bitter we met the head brewer of my local brewery Lervig Mike Murphy and some other folks from Stavanger at Mikkeller Bar and we grabbed a cab. Fermentoren was a big bar, with a great tap line, Cantillion & Crooked Moon among others. And this is where we hung out until the small hours. This bar is probably the reason why we overslept and came late for the main event of this trip...

There's a black hole here somewhere!?!

Copenhagen Beer Celebration:

Jeppe, Haffy & Mikkel!

The vision of Copenhagen Beer Celebration is that of Mr. Mikkeller himself Mikkel Borg Bjergsø. The goal was simply to create the best Craft Beer Festival ever: "The greatest beers + The greatest food + The greatest atmosphere + <3 = The greatest beer celebration." At least that’s what it says on the booklet we got upon arrival. This all happened in the 100 year old Spartahallen just outside of Copenhagen centrum. For me this festival was all about the breweries, I had expectations for the food and the breweries; only the brews accomplished my expectations. The food was great, but my expectation was to high. There were beer seminars, 5 different every day covering different subjects, I didn't attend them, I had enough tasting the best beers in the world. With breweries like: Cigar City, De Struise, De Molen, Hoppin Frog, Kernel, Nøgne Ø & Three Floyds who can blame me?

Jakob Schytz & Fred Karm

As mentioned we arrived late the first day, the festival doors opened at 12:00, we were still sleeping at that time, some 4 hours later after deciding whether to live or die from the immense hang over, and after force feeding our self solid food we left for the festival. We got our glasses and chips and started trying different kinds of beer. The beer line up was different both days and so was the food, so I'm really happy about going both days. Another thing I'm also really happy about is the fact that this was not the only beer festival in town this weekend. This is controversial, because this subject has been debated heavily on different forums on the net. Even at Mikkeller bar while hanging out there, one dude was all going like "He did it because so and so", so I told him, "Mikkel is right there why don't you ask him", and he did and I wish I could repeat what Mikkel said, but they both spoke Danish and my Danish isn't very good. 

Evin O'Riordain aka The Kernel.

Well back to the point, why I'm glad: It's not because I think the other festival is shit, but it's a great opportunity for those who wanna see more, not only one of the festivals, but also because the people attending the CBC were only hardcore beer geeks. There was no people trying IPA or Imperial Stout for the first time, people didn't come to get drunk, but to drink great beers and socialise. With one or two exceptions maybe! I think Elsa from Nøgne Ø said it best when Andrew asked us if we were going to both of the festivals: "These dudes are hardcore beer geeks, they won’t go to the commercial festival." After six hours of beer tasting we left for the Mikkeller bar to hang out there.

Die By The Beer poster boy Kjetil!

The next day we arrived a lot earlier, we're now at beer geeking day number 5. One of the first things I hear is Fred from Hoppin Frog saying, "Hey I heard you guys finally got to try the D.O.R.I.S. yesterday! How was it?" De Struise, the only brewery placed on the outside had moved from the front side to the back yard where the festival toilets where placed. We're talking Roskilde festival toilets here, probably, he he! De Struise had a 20 tap festival waggon, they where the only brewery not changing their beer line up between days, but they also had the biggest line up, so I didn't really care. I think they where my favourite brewery at the festival! We ate the food of Jakob Mielckes of Mielcke & Hurtigkarls, Saturdays dish was quite nice, I didn't care to much for the beer that were served with the food, after drinking so many tasty beers this beer just weren't tasty enough in my eyes. We also ate Hot Dog with beer pickles, beer ketchup and beer mustard from John's Hot Dog Deli, we had a great time walking, talking and meeting people. Before the end we took a group picture with Mikkel and Jeppe and I got a few words with Mikkel, he said that what he were most proud of was getting Three Floyds to Europe and to the festival. 

Some woman getting beer!

I really hope Mikkel will do another festival next year, and I really hope I have the opportunity to go. I don't care too much if they still have festival toilets but I would like the opportunity to clean my glass and wash my hands after going to the loo. Oh, and I wanna be able to sit more, so I can hang out longer than I did and try even more beers! Other than that everything was perfect, great event, best line up ever, best beer festival I've ever been to! Two thumbs up! CBC was the highlight of a road trip filled with highlights!

Kjetil, Jeppe, Lars, Herman, Haffy & Mikkel.

Beers from CBC that demands more attention:

De Struise Dirty Horse 1983 7% Wild Ale: One of the oldest beers I've ever tasted, impressively good and complex.

De Struise Black Damnation VI - Messy 39% Imperial "Eisbocked" Stout: These guys should teach Brewdog how to do it, you would never guess it's that strong, drinks like a normal Imp. Stout. Awesome!

Westbrook Mexican Coffee Cake 10,5% Imperial Stout: Spicy dessert of an ale, could just as well been made by Southern Tier. Have this instead of dessert? Yes please...

Evil Twin Even More Jesus 12% Imperial Stout: My kind of beer, an "all in" Imp. Stout from Jeppe brewed at Fanø, great!

Brewdog Anarchist and Alchemist 14% Triple IPA: Finally something new and relevant from the Scots, great beer, go get it and enjoy!

Cigar City Marshall Zhukov's 11% Imperial Stout: One of the best Imperial Stouts in the world, one of the best Imperial Stouts ever, you will never get to try this beer! Ha-Ha! Or maybe you will...

Fanø Bryghus Chocolate Lava 10% Imperial Stout with chocolate, licorice syrup and chili: Starts off with chocolate sweet chocolate flavor, then chili, chili, chili.......HOT!

Mikkeller Spontandoubleblueberry 8%: This beer both looks and tastes amazing, incomparable and unique, a beautiful beer!


The long way home:

The next morning we left the hotel at 11:00 in the morning, and came home at 04:00 in the middle of the night; we had work to attend the next morning, any questions? Yes it was swell!!!!

We returned safely with all our loot!

- Haffy


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