styles - history - beers
|I used to describe Danish brewing as " little
pond, inhabited by one great white shark and the odd sardine". A microbrewery
explosion in the new millennium has rendered my description obselete. Denmark
has one of the most dynamic and exciting beer cultures in Europe.
A decade ago, the situation was pretty grim. Denmark's big two (Carlsberg and Royal Unibrew) had their hands tightly around drinkers' throats. The few remaining independent breweries were being slowly whittled away. It seemed the Bryggeriforeningen would soon be able to hold meetings in a phone box.
The founding of Danske Ølentusiaster in 1998 proved to be a turning point. That they have been able to recruit 11,000 members in less than a decade says everything about their enthusiasm and commitment. They have brought microbrewed beer into the Danish mainstream.
At first the emphasis was much on imported beer from Europe's brewing heartlands: Belgium, Britain, the Czech Republic, Germany. But as interest in quality beer grew, a few brave pioneers began brewing professionally. Their success encouraged others. The number of breweries more than trebled in just 10 years.
New breweries continue to pop up with remarkable frequency. I'm updating this page almost weekly. But more important than their mere existence, is the willingness of these newcomers to experiment. A staggering range of styles is brewed: British, Belgian, German, Czech, American. Not necessarily all in one brewery, though there are some who do appear to be going for a full set. It's hard to believe that there was once little else than bland, pale lager.
Even arch pils-purveyors Carlsberg have built their own microbrewery and turn out an Abbbey Dubbel, American-style IPA, Imperial Barley Wine and a Brown Ale, amongst others. You don't see many globalists with a portfolio like that (well not under their own name - these really are branded Carlsberg).
Dozens of styles and hundreds of craft beers are brewed in Denmark. Danes should be proud of this incredible transformation of their national drink. It's a story that gives me a real sense of optimism about what can be achieved elsewhere.
|The Danish brewing industry|
| The rapid expansion of the microbrewing sector has given
Denmark a very respectable number of breweries, when compared to its population.
A very high proportion - around a third - of beer brewed in Denmark is exported. It's mostly Carlsberg, of course. Relatively tiny amounts - somewhere around 2% of consumption - are imported.
The current number of active breweries is 55. (Not quite as bad as it seems - remember there are only 5 million Danes. It's the equivalent of 600 breweries in the UK). They break down as follows:
These figures do not include The Faroes, which have two breweries of their own. Both I would classify as "Independent".
Of the breweries which are currently active, 37 were founded after 1990, 33 after 2000.
Carlsberg (through their takeover of Pripps of Sweden and Ringnes of Norway) has near total control of the Nordic beer market. You can't imagine that they would misuse such power, can you?
As in many countries, the decline of the traditional brewing branch and the rise of microbreweies has provoked unrest in the trade organisation. Many of the newcomers resent the way the established trade body, Bryggeriforeningen, appears to be run for and by Carlsberg and Royal Unibrew Their response has been to establish an organisation that will better represent their interests. Danske Bryghuse was officially founded 21st October 2003.
A sore point is the reduction in tax granted to breweries over 100 years old. It was introduced in the 1950's to protect small, established breweries. Its effect today is to financially disadvantage newcomers (i.e. microbreweries) entering the market.
| This is the big boys' club:
1459 København K
Telefon 33 12 62 41 .
Fax 33 14 25 13 .
|This is the organisation for everyone else:
Agro Business Park,
Niels Pedersens Allé 2,
Tlf.: 89 99 25 00
Fax: 89 99 25 99
|Beer Drinkers' Organisation
The Danish beer consumers organisation (an EBCU member) is:
Danske Ølentusiaster ("Danish beer enthusiasts")
Tel: +45 45 82 34 00
Although only founded in September 1998 (elected to associate EBCU membership 14th November 1998, full membership 27th March 1999), it has been very successful in attracting Danish drinkers to its ranks. With around 11,000 memebers, it's the second largest organisation in the EBCU, after CAMRA.
|Danish Beer styles|
|International pils - Denmark's
gift to the world
Unsurprisngly, given Carlsberg's key role in the development of the modern "international" style of pale lager usually called "pils", bottom-fermentation prevails in Denmark's larger breweries. What would the world have been like if Jacobsen hadn't smuggled that yeast sample back from Bavaria? I can't imagine that things could have turned out worse.
The majority of beer drunk in Denmark is pale lager of 4.7%. That's followed by pale lager of 5.6% very vaguely in an Export style, but sweeter.
|A new crop
New breweries have mostly stuck to top-fermenting beers, in either British, Belgian or American styles (or occasionally a combination of the three). Though there are some bottom-fermenting beers around. Da Capo brew a very good Vienna-style amber lager.
Carlsberg shocked everyone by brewing an abbey-style dubbel as a seasonal special a few years back. The really shocking part, was that they were able to make a good fist of it. So what the hell are they pissing about at with the rest of their beers? They can brew good beer if they try - so obviously the rest of the time they aren't. I can remember the guide who showed me around the brewery proudly announcing that they had cut the time taken to produce Carlsberg from 3 months to 3 weeks. So, just miss out that unneccassary and time-consuming lagering phase.
Whilst planning to close their Copenhagen brewery, Carlsberg have opened a microbrewery on the site. It's turning out a range of special beers such as IPA, Barley Wine and Brown Ale, some under the Carlsberg name, some branded Jacobsen. It will be interesting to see how great their commitment to brewing quality beer will be.
|Tax and Strength
You will notice that the strengths of beers are remarkably consistent across breweries. The cause was, naturally, the Danish system for taxing beer. Up until 2004 Klasse 1 was up to 11º Plato (approx. 4.6%) alcohol , Klasse 2 11º-14º Plato (up to 5.8%) with Klasse 3, 4 and 5 going up to 10% and more. Beer with less than 2.7% alcohol was tax free. Klasse 1 beers accounted for about 85% of Danish beer sales.
The system of tax bands based on original gravity in degrees Plato (detailed above) was replaced in 2005. Tax is now charged at a rate of DKK 50.90 per litre 100% alcohol. Beers will probably vary more in strength as there is no longer an advantage in clinging to the ceiling of each band. Beer below 2.8% alcohol is tax free. For more details, see the Danish beer statistics section.
This isn't a complete list of the styles brewed. If I did that, I would just be producing a glossary of world beer types. These are the commonest or ones with a special Danish twist. Most major German styles are brewed, even if not listed. You'll have to look here or here if you want see them.
Bottom-fermented styles (from established breweries):
Recent new Danish brewers have been much influenced by American microbrewing. In particular the use of large quantities of American hop varieties, such as Cascade. Not to everyone's taste, I know. There are several American-style IPA's, many from Mikkeller.
Some breweries aim more at reproducing UK interpretations of the ale family. WIntercoat brew an excellent ESB, bursting with biscuity English malt. They also have a mild and an oatneal stout in their portfolio. I can't help but like any brewery that makes a mild.
Belgian styles aren't as popular, with Witbier popping up the most. A couple, including Carlsberg, make an Abbey Dubbel. Some make wheat beers in the German style - Brøckhouse, Braunstein and BrewPub.
Porters and Stouts are very popular amongst microbrewers, as are Brown Ales and Pale Ales. A few Barley Wines are made, for example by Mikkeller and Skagen.
Danish Beer Statistics
|Beer sales by tax class (hl)|
|Beer classes and tax rates (2003 and 2004)|
|plato||alc. vol||tax (DKK/hl)||tax (DKK/33cl bottle)|
|klasse 2||11 - 14º||<5.8%||345.75||1.14|
|klasse 3||14 - 18º||7-8%||460.75||1.52|
|klasse 4||18 - 22º||7.8-9.3%||510.25||1.68|
|klasse 5||>22º||>8.5%||27 DKK*||1.96 (minimum)|
* per degree Plato per litre
beer below 2.8% alcohol is tax free
|Beer classes and tax rates (2005)|
|alc. vol||tax (DKK/l)||tax (DKK/33cl bottle)|
The system of tax bands based on original gravity in degrees Plato was replaced in 2005. Tax is now charged at a rate of DKK 50.90 per litre 100% alcohol. Thus the tax on 1 litre of 4.6% beer is: 0.046 x 50.90 = 2.34 DKK.
Beers will probably vary more in strength as there is no longer an advantage in clinging to the ceiling of each band.
Beer below 2.8% alcohol is tax free
|Beer Consumption, Imports and Exports (hl):|
@ Die Deutsche Brauwirtschaft in Zahlen, 1994
" my calculation
|What do my scores mean?|
|< 25||positively unpleasant|
|25 - 40||has its faults|
|60-70||above average - definitely worth trying|
|70-80||excellent - worth hunting for|
|80 >||world class - you must try it|
Listings - Denmark
Gunnar Clausensvej 26,
8260 Viby J.
Tel. +45 2040 3373
Microbrewery. The brewer, Niels Buchwald, used to work at Thor and Ceres.
Tel: 66 13 23 01
Fax 65 91 32 00
Part of Royal Unibrew A/S, Denmark's second largest brewing group.
Tel: 59 18 59 11
Microbrewery. A different seasonal beer is brewed every month. All their beers are unfiltered and unpasteurised.
Homebrew pub in the centre of Copenhagen, right next door to the Tivoli. In addition to the one year-round beer there are various special brews.
The same company runs brewpubs in Herning , Odense and Århus.
Tel: 7020 4468
Fax: 5663 4468
Microbrewery. Unusual for a new Danish brewery in that it specialises in German-style beers.
The brewery has a sampling room.
Mon - Fri 11:00 - 15:00
Tel: 58 52 38 09
Fax: 58 52 38 19
Annual production: 1,000 hl (capacity)
Microbrewery. Beer on sale from July 2006.
1456 København K.
Tel.: 33 32 00 60
Sun - Wed 12:00 - 24:00,
Thur - Sat 12:00 - 02:00.
6091 Søndre Bjert.
Tel: 75 57 25 42
Tel: 48 24 24 60
Fax: 48 24 24 80
A Microbrewery producing beers in an interesting mixture of styles. Top of my wanted list for Danish beers.
Tel: 2029 6268
Ny Carlsbergvej 100,
1799 København V (Copenhagen).
Tel: 33 27 33 27
Fax 33 27 47 11
Fredericia Bryggeri A/S
Tel: 79 23 11 23
Fax: 79 23 62 77
Annual production: 2,500,000 hl (capacity 2004)
Denmark's very own multinational. The standard beers are exactly what you would expect from a large, international brewery: crap.
The brewery in Copenhagen is scheduled to close. Carlsberg will then join that illustrious group of brewing companies who put sentiment to one side and shut their original plant: Heineken, Whitbread, Greenhall Whitley. The Fredericia brewery is having its capacity increased to 4,300,000 hl to cope. The changes are scheduled to be complete by the end of 2008. The company headquarters will remain at the site, as will the Jacobsen microbrewery.
Cerea Allé 1,
8100 Århus C.
Tel: 86 76 65 00
Fax: 86 13 65 06
Part of Royal Unibrew A/S, Denmark's second largest brewing group.
Founded: should open in 2006
Tel: 56 77 15 00
Fax: 56 71 47 64
Part of Royal Unibrew A/S, Denmark's second largest brewing group. Best-known for its giant 1 litre cans, sold in German petrol stations.
5000 Odense C.
Tel.: 66 12 02 99
Brewpub. Owned by the same company as the Apollo brewpub. Every month a different sesonal beer is brewed.
Mon - Sat 11:30 - 22:00,
Sunday 11:30 - 17:00
Tel: 48 39 39 43
Fax: 48 39 39 44
Microbrewery on an organic farm. Their shop sells a range of organic beer from around Europ.
Tel: 73 52 61 00
Fax: 73 52 61 11
Tel: +45 97 59 30 60
Fax. +45 97 59 30 48
Brewpub. It started brewing 1st October 2004. They plan a similar range of beers under the "Volcano" brand which will be pasteurised.
1630 København V (Copenhagen).
Tel: 33 12 94 12
Fax: 33 93 59 77
Brewpub in Tivoli.
Mon - Sun 12:00-19:00
Tel: 46 32 60 45
Bryghus - Gaardbryggeriet
Tel: 8687 7684
Fax: 8687 7683
Microbrewery. They brew interesting top-fermented beers. How many breweries in Continetal Europe make a Scottsih heavy? Come to think of it, how many Scottish breweries still make one?
Tel: 97 52 25 77
Fax: 97 52 98 30
Tel: 58 19 40 40
Independent brewery. The Danish "label beer" king. They have a habit of rebadging existing beers with new names and labels whenever they feel like it.
The company also owns Darguner Brauerei GmbH (Germany), AS Viru Ôlu (Estonia), Harboe Norge AS (Norway) and a farm. They also produce soft drinks. Up until the company was listed on the stock exchange in 1989, it was owned by members of the Harboe family.
Nybølle Gadekærsvej 2,
Tel: 44 66 21 96
Tel: 96 26 02 70
Brewpub. Owned bt the same company as the Apollo brewpub.
Tel.: 46 40 18 07
Annual production: 1,500 hl.
Annual production: 750 hl (capacity)
Microbrewery in the cellar of the restaurant Bryghuset No.5..
Gamle Carlsberg Vej 11,
Microbrewery in the Carlsberg complex. Brews beers in Carlsberg's Semper Ardens range and under its own name.
Carlsberg's response to Denmark's microbrewery boom.
Tel.: +45 65 32 16 05
Fax. +45 65 32 48 40
Tel: 54 78 00 19
Fax: 54 78 03 00
Part of Royal Unibrew A/S, Denmark's second largest brewing group.
Marsk Billesvej 24,
Microbrewery. The beers are available in cask-conditioned format. As you can probably guess from the names, the inspiration for the beers comes from Scotland.
Tel: 4162 3489
Microbrewery. Their IPA-with-American-hops fixation could get a little tedious.
|Miracle Breweries A/S
Tel: +45 25 277 100
Fax: +45 25 277 100
Tel: 55 81 20 00
Fax: 20 53 17 51
|Musik Bryggeriet daCAPO
4130 Viby Sj.
Tel.: 23 96 02 94
Microbrewery. They brew an eclectic mix of styles.
Tel: 3530 0530
Fax: 3530 0531
Brewpub. The brewer, Anders Kissmeyer, used to brew for Carlsberg. He brews a very eclectic range of styles.
Mon - Sun. 11:00-24:00
Thu - Sun 11:00-24:00 (Winter)
Microbrewery. Beer is brewed to order only.
Holløselund Strandvej 74,
3210 Vejby, Tisvildeleje.
Tel: +45 7020 7930
Microbrewery. All thge beers are unfiltered and bottle-conditioned. The IPA and Brown Ale are available, on request, in cask-conditioned form.
Bryggeri - Naturfrisk A/S
Tel.: 65 33 21 11
Founded: 1906 (closed 1996, re-opened 2002)
The original brewery was famous for "Stakitøl" (Fence Beer), a dark, top-fermented hvidtøl with a smoky taste. It was sold in 5-litre bottles, protected by a circle of wooden staves - hence the name. The Rømer family, who bought the brewery in 1998, initially produced organic soft drinks. But it seemed a waste to leave the intact brewery unused, so brewing eventually resumed.
|Raasted Bryghus ApS
Tel.: 23 80 41 51
Microbrewery. All their beers are unfiltered and unpasteurised. They want to brew British, Belgian but especially US micro-style beers.
v/ H. P. Rasmussen & Co.
Nyborgvej 80, Refsvindinge
Tel: 65 33 10 40
Fax: 65 33 10 29
Independent brewery. The only established brewery to produce anything really interesting. Denmark's last farm brewery, which has been in the hands of the Rasmussen family for four generations.
Tel: 62 52 11 22
Microbrewery. A brewery with the same name was opened in 1884 and closed sometime in the 1900´s. Refounded in 2004, but the first brews were in late 2005.
Brewpub. Owned by the same company as the Apollo brewpub.
Tel: 98 44 42 80 / 61 67 42 80
Microbrewery. The beer is currently contract brewed at Søgaards Bryghus.
Tel.: 4375 5025
Microbrewery. All the beers are unfiltered and unpasteurised.
Tel.: 44 98 65 45
Sun - Wed 12:00 - 23:00,
Thur - Sat 12:00 - 24:00
Microbrewery. A brewery of the same name closed in 1963.
Tingvej 4, Varpelev,
Tel: 5626 6183
Fax: 5626 6186
Svaneke Torv 5,
Tel: 56 49 73 21
C.W.Obels Plads 1A,
Tel..: 98 16 11 14
Brewpub. Owned by Lisa & Claus Søgaard.
Mon –Wed 11:00 - 23:00,
Thur 11:00 - 24:00,
Fri –Sat 10:00 - 01:30
Thisted Bryghus og Mineralsvandsfabrik
Tel: 97 92 23 22
Fax: 97 91 18 98
Tel: 87 12 45 00
Fax: 89 42 08 08
Founded: CLOSED 2003
Part of Royal Unibrew A/S, Denmark's second largest brewing group. The beers are now brewed at Ceres.
Tel: +45 28 45 07 55
Microbrewery in an off licence. They have a railway theme going on.
Tel: 33 27 33 11
Fax: 33 27 47 11
Founded: CLOSED 1999
Part of the Carlsberg empire.
Tel: 64 71 10 41
Fax: 64 71 24 41
Independent brewery. All the draught beer is unpasteurised.
Microbrewery. Not quite sold enough shares to start yet.
|Warwik Bryghus ApS
Vestervold 18B (brewery),
Ortenvej 17 (office),
H. C. Ørstedsvej 10,
Tel: 33 27 30 00
Fax: 33 27 32 00
Founded: 1840 (closed 1998)
Tel: 2876 0637
Microbrewery. It concentrates on British styles and, judging by the ones I've tried, makes a pretty good fist of it. And I just can't help liking any brewery that brews a dark mild.
This is what the nice people at the brewery told me about their products:
"Our beers are definitely not filtered. They are available cask-conditioned if ordered in advance. We suggest using a real ale pump with our Cornelius kegs, which gives a very close approximation to cask-conditioned ales, since we tap directly from the conditioning tank to the kegs, and there's only 19 l to get through instead of 38. Not many Danish pubs dare do this, as they're so used to gassing their beers. (They also tend to serve their ales too cold.) Fortunately, many of our customers (publicans) are English! We're trying to convince more Danish pubs of the ease in using ale pumps. They're easy to install, move, operate and maintain. And no CO2 to mess with. 'Nuff said, eh?"You can't argue with that. They definitely have the right idea. Please support these idealists by drinking their beer.
Listings - Faroes
Tel: (+298) 455454
Fax: (+298) 456544
Tel: +298 - 314728
Fax: +298 - 314728