Monday, 9 March 2015

More Craft Beer in Copenhagen...

Back in September 2013 I wrote this post on places to drink craft beer in the wonderful Danish city of Copenhagen. Myself and a few mates have been back a few times since, most recently in January of this year, and so I thought it was about time I wrote an update to include a few of the new bars we've got to know. The original piece has since become my most read post of all time, and I would love to think it has offered travelling beer connoisseurs a helpful insight into the venues of one of Europe's leading cities for sampling good quality craft beer.
Just as before, I will point out quickly that this post is intended only as a pub-crawl style guide to the numerous bars specializing in craft beer, and although I will inevitably list the odd beer drunk along the way I'm no beer writer! For tasting notes on anything you see listed in this piece please click on the beer name.
January 2015
Just like the last time we visited this fine city, my mate, Bolts, and me stayed in the Copenhagen Crown on Vesterbrogarde, which is a short walk west of the main train station in the trendy Vesterbro district. The twin room was reasonably priced, simple and clean, but to be fair, to us it's nothing more than a place to sleep for the night!

We arrived in the city just before midday, and just as the snow began to fall. Keen not to waste any drinking time we dropped off our bags in the hotel and headed straight out to Olbutikken on Istedgade. Although not technically a bar, this excellent little bottle shop has a bench seated area so you can enjoy your purchases on-site if you want (unlike off-licenses in the UK, of course). The shop  is owned by Morten, a big friendly native who could talk enthusiastically about craft beer all day (and F.C Kobenhavn). We met him back in 2013 when he was working in the Lord Nelson bar. Bolts and me shared a 'Jule IPA' from Ebeltoft and a 'Black Nitro black IPA' from Amager (pic above, left). Both brewers based in Denmark.
Leaving Olbutikken we took a stroll east, back past the train station and the famous Tivoli amusement park, to Taphouse on Lavendelstrade, near the city's main shopping area. Taphouse is Copenhagen's newest craft beer venue and as this was our first visit we very deliberately planned it to be early enough in the day that we would be sober enough to remember it! The modern interior was spacious and set over two levels with a sizable bar offering 61 draught taps from micro-brewers around the world (pic above, centre and right). It was an outstanding selection! The bar staff were friendly and knowledgeable, which is always an essential element of enjoying a good drinking session! First drink for the both of us was by local brewer, Flying Couch, who had created a 'Black Shade IPA' with American craft brewer, Cigar City. Of the beers we had there, my personal favourite was the 'Campfire Stout' from Pittsburg's High Water Brewery. A really creamy, sweet and comforting stout that fitted the freezing temperatures perfectly.

By mid-afternoon we left the warmth and comfort of Taphouse and wandered through the snow over to the Orsted Olbar on Norre Farimagsgade (pic above, left). The interior of this excellent bar reminds me of a British boozer, with flickering candles and sporting memorabilia on the walls. We have made a bit of a habit of timing our visit to this excellent venue to watch the Saturday football results roll in. Just like last year we challenged the big-bearded barman (who had recognized us from our last trip and even remembered what teams we supported) to create some 'black and tans' which he done by mixing an Amager Brewery 'Winter in Bangalore IPA' with a Bryggeriet Djaevlebryg 'Gudelos Imperial Stout'. The result was so good we had a couple of them, although heaven only knows what the ABV would have been!
By late afternoon we decided to depart the Orsted Olbar in search of a bit of food. The chilly walk back into the city's shopping area cleared our heads and got some air into our lungs and after enjoying a snowball fight in a park and a bite to eat we headed over to Mikkeller Bar on Viktoriagade in the Vesterbro district (above pic, centre and right) to start our evening session. This small and cosy venue is about as good as it gets for craft beer lovers and the 20 or so taps highlight perfectly the wonderful imagination of the Mikkeller micro-brewery and those brewers they regularly collaborate with. We sat at the bar and enjoyed 3 or 4 Mikkeller offerings including the 'Beer Geek Brunch Weasel Imperial Stout' and 'Crooked Moon Double IPA'.
Being so close to our hotel, any sensible folk would have called it a night at this point, but Bolts and I felt we owed a visit to one of our favourite Copenhagen bars, the Fermentoren on Halmtorvet, which was a short stroll south west from the Mikkeller Bar (passing Olbutikken en-route). This small bar is located near the trendy and rejuvenated Meatpacking District that boasts art galleries and restaurants during the day (I can highly recommend the Fiskebaren if seafood is your thing). Neither Bolts nor I can remember what we drunk there, which is probably the best indicator that we'd had our fill. Time to head back to the hotel. Day one over!

The next morning we rose early and headed out in search of breakfast in the city centre. With time to kill we decided to take advantage of a crisp and clear winters day by walking up through the Botanical Gardens, past the northern end of the Lakes and on to Telia Parken, home of F.C Kobenhavn. It was a deliberately long-winded route to get to the Norrebro district, and just after 2pm we finally reached our destination of Mikkeller & Friends on Stefansgade (six pictures above). This bar is probably my favorite current Copenhagen craft beer venue. The interior is all about that minimalist-but-modern wooden style instantly recognizable as Scandinavian. It's large, light and airy and is a wonderful environment to enjoy a Sunday afternoon session. Around 40 taps provide plenty of choice dependent on how your taste buds are feeling, but if by chance that isn't enough, there's the Mikkeller Bottle Shop right next door (pic above, bottom left). From the taps we particularly enjoyed the 'Sort Maelk' (Whisky Barrel Aged Milk Stout) from local brewers To Ol and Mikkeller's own 'Vesterbrown Ale'.

As tempting as it was to stay there all day we decided we should move on, heading over to Olbaren on Elmgade (pic above, left). This tiny, dimly-lit bar has a decent bottled selection which compliments the 10 or so draught taps. The stand-out beer was a sweet dark stout from American brewer, Dark Horse, called 'Too Cream Stout'. With time getting on we made the difficult decision to sacrifice a visit to the Soernes Olbar on Kroghsgade at the northern end of the Lakes (pic below, right, from last year). This venue is the sister pub to the Orsted Olbar with around 20 tap offerings and would ordinarily be well worth a visit, but we was very keen to spend the best part of the evening back in the Mikkeller Bar on Viktoriagade (pic above, centre and right) and, perhaps more importantly, a rather more focused visit to The Fermentoren (pic below, centre).

As the evening grew longer, we enjoyed a number of beers new to us, including the wonderful 18th Street Brewery's 'Hunter Coffee Double Milk Stout' in Mikkeller and the 'Phister de Noel Imperial Stout' from Flying Couch in The Fermentoren.

So that was that! We would have loved to have tried the Mikkeller cocktail bar, Mikropolis on Vendersgade which outside of the obvious cocktails serves a decent selection of bottled beers. In reality, though, it's probably not worth the risk in succumbing to temptation and mixing strong craft beer with fancy cocktails! For the record, some other venues that due to time constraints never made the cut for us this year but might be worth considering included the Norrebro Bryghus on Rysegade (bar and restaurant set in the brewery), the Lord Nelson on Hyskenstraede (still allows smoking inside which is not ideal if you value your health), the Bryyggeriet Appolo on Vesterbrogade (limited selection of beer brewed on the premises and a bit too touristy for us) and the BrewPub on Vestergade (disappointingly uninspiring selection on our only visit a couple of years back).  
Thanks to my mate and travel companion, Bolts, for helping to put this piece together with regards to the various beers drunk. If you're planning a trip to Copenhagen it would be great to know if this post proved to be helpful via the comments section below. I would also appreciate notice if there's any craft beer bars we've not listed. There is little doubt that Copenhagen has more to offer than beer, but what a reason to go? I would argue there's no better reason!  

1 comment:

  1. Enjoyable post Ted. A sprinkling of American craft beer there too. The independent craft brewer scene has really taken off in the States - Michigan, Colorado, California, Indiana, Oregon - would be some good places to visit. The new generation of American beer drinkers are finally (a little anyway) turning their backs on that lite fizzy rubbish they've drunk for decades.