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History of beer in Denmark
Denmark has a beer tradition with origins in the viking era, as beer was considered then to be safest than water when sailing. Also, beer was considered as an invigorous drink for the battles, and it it was the drink served in Valhala—the warriors paradise in the nordic traditions. Even the world ale is considered to derive from the old norse ault meaning bitter, and also the origin of the Danish word for beer øl But that tradition was finished when the lager took over Europe in the 1840's and beyond. In Denmark, Calsberg was founded in 1847, and soon took over the market, having 70% share as of today.
But in the early 2000's in Denmark it started what was branded as the Danish Beer Revolution, with a new wave of microbreweries inspired by the American Craft Beer Movement. Pioneers of that movement where brewers like Mikkeller, To Øl, Nørrebro Bryghus or Amager Bryghus. Danish craft breweries are nowadays considered some of the top breweries in the world, and a new generation is now emerging, with breweries as Ugly Duck or Flying Couch.
Brewers from Denmark
Ugly Duck is a Danish brewery founded in 2006 as Indslev Bryggeri, taking back the traditional name of the familiar brewery that existed in Indslev from 1897 until 1980. The brewery was founded by Anders Busse Rasmussen, whose family were the founders of the original brewery. Its first focus were wheat beers, but later in 2012, they introduced the Ugly Duck brand in order ot ellaborate more extreme and experimental beers.
Go to Ugly Duck
Amager Bryghus is a Danish microbrewery. It´s named after its founding location, in the island of Amager (part of the Copenhagen Municipality).
Morten Valentin Lundsbak and Jacob Storm founded it after purchasing an old warehouse previously owned by the Church of Scientology. They both knew each other after writing a school project about fermentation, and after being amateur homebrewers for some time, they decided to start brewing professionally.
Its first international success came with Hr. Frederiksen, an Imperial Stout that made it to Ratebeer Top 50, atracting international attention. They soon started to export to the US, and they have been in Ratebeer Top 100 breweries list since 2009.
Amager Bryghus is famous for giving funny names to their beers, like Granny with a Gun, Jar-Jar goes all Jamaican, Papsø on acid or Galloping Into the Autistic Sunset.
This sense of humour is also reflected in their comic-inspired labels. One of its labels was in the middle of a controversy with the Sweden state alcohol authority—Systembolaget—, that censored the label of his beer Lust. This label showed a topless woman and was considered inapropiate. This ban was broadly discussed by Swedish media, being considered as an act of censorship.
In 2018, Amager Bryghus celebrated their 10 years jubilee, moving to a new location with expanded brewing facilities, just 3 Km. away from their original site.
Go to Amager Bryghus
Mikkeller is a Danish brewery founded in Copenhagen in 2006 by Mikkel Borg Bjergsø and Kristian Klarup Keller. Mikkel was a physics teacher at Det Fri Gymnasium, an institute in Copenhagen, where he begun experimenting with brewing with two of his students, Tore Gynther and Tobias Jensen—founders of To Øl.
They started cloning US brews that Mikkel knew from the years he spent in college in the US. The beer was then distributed and sold by Mikkel´s twin brother, Jeppe Bjergsø, who started a beer shop called Ølbutikken, located in the Vesterbro district in Copenhagen. This agreement lasted until Mikkeller opened its first Mikkeller Bar in Viktoriagade, a few meters away from the shop. Later Jeppe decided to found his own brewery, calling it Evil Twin.
In 2006 they released Beer Geek Stout, a stout brewed with French-press coffee. This beer won its category in the Copenhagen Beer Festival, and started attracting international attention to Mikkeller. After that, Kristian Keller left the company and Mikkel has since then been in charge of the company.
In their origins, Mikkeller called themselves a gypsy brewery—as they didn´t own a brewery, and most of their brews were made a D´Proef in Belgium. This has changed, as in 2016, Mikkeller adquired former AleSmith brewery in San Diego (US). They also host a yearly craft beer festival, the Mikkeller Beer Celebration.
Go to Mikkeller
To Øl was founded in 2010 by Tobias Emil Jensen and Tore Gynther. The name means literally two beers in Danish.
Tobias and Tore knew each other since high school, when they attended Det Fri Gymnasium in Nørrebro (Copenhagen), a high school that was based on a democratic take of decissions. There, they decided to propose to buy brewing equipment to start experimenting with it, a proposition that was broadly supported by their classmates.
With the supervision and support of their physic teacher, a man called Mikkel Borg Bjergsø—founder of now world-famous Mikkeller brewery—, they started experimenting with different ingredients and beer styles, and in 2010 they released their first commercial beer, the Overall IPA. Currently, the brewery is owned 100% by Tore Gynther, as Tobias departed from the brand in 2017. To Øl has a very unique visual design, inspired by their graphic designer, Kasper Ledet who also attended their same high school and started collaborating with them since the beginning.
They call themselves a gypsy brewery, as they don´t have their own brewing facilities, and most of their beers are brewed at D´Proef in Belgium. They also own Brus, a bar in the heart Nørrebro area, near the high school where To Øl story begun. Here they produce some pale ales and lagers mainly for local consumption.
To Øl is characterized for their focus on innovation, and currently they are developing a high quality instant beer that can be prepared by adding sparkling water and some quantity alcohol to some dehydrated beer leftovers.
Go to To Øl
Nørrebro Bryghus is a brewery located in the neighbourhood of Nørrebro in Copenhagen (Denmark). It was founded in 2003 by Anders Kissmeyer previous brewmaster at Carlsberg, who stayed at the brewery until 2010.
Go to Nørrebro Bryghus
Indslev Bryggeri was founded in 2006, taking back the traditional name of the familiar brewery that existed in Indslev from 1897 until 1980. The brewery was founded by Anders Busse Rasmussen, a direct descendant of the founder. The brewery is specialized in wheat beers.
Go to Indslev Bryggeri
Flying Couch is a Danish brewery based in Copenhagen (Denmark). It was founded in 2011 by Peter Sonne. After being a gipsy brewery for some years, brewing at both at Herslev Bryghus and at Nørrebro Bryghus, Flying Couch opened their own brewery in 2015 in the Northwest of Copenhagen, in the former Stensbogaard old brewery building. Peter is also manager at Søernes Ølbar in the center of Copenhagen, that serves as their brewpub.
Go to Flying Couch
Dry & Bitter
Dry & Bitter is a Danish brewery founded in 2015 by Søren Wagner. They aim to brew just ballanced beers, not aiming for extremes, and they also have a solid barrel-aging programme.
Go to Dry & Bitter
A Brewery With A Gun interview
Amager (Denmark), 01/05/2018
Henrik Papsø (Amager Bryghus), “If you go to a bar, you see a lot of breweries just name their beers in behalf of the style. And it’s just so boring. Right now I’m so happy that so many brewers are so lazy, because it leaves more room to us.”