I have to be up pretty early. I’ve an appointment at Carlsberg at 09:00. And I plan walking there, which will take a bit more than half an hour.
The breakfast is pretty decent. Cheese, ham, hard and soft boiled eggs, nice bread and quite a lot of sliced veg. It means I can be reasonably healthy in my eating.
Fed, I grab my camera and head west. It’s a lovely day, making walking a pleasure. I’ve been to Carlsberg before, but never on foot. Meaning I get to see a new bit of Copenhagen.
There’s a bit of confusion about our meeting point. I stand patiently in front of Visit Carlsberg while Bjarke (my contact who’s a historian here) waits around the corner. It all gets sorted after a while and Bjarke leads me off around the oldest bits of Ny Carlsberg. He’s got Michael, head brewer at Jacobsen, with him.
Jacobsen, the micro Carlsberg run in the complex, is housed in cellars from an earlier brewery. I get to see the shiny new kit and taste Jacobsen Brown Ale directly from the conical. Very nice it is, too, if a little cold for me.
Most surprising is the barrel aging room. Quite modest compared to some I’ve seen in the US, but interestingly nonetheless. Michael gets us tasters the old-fashioned way – piercing the barrel head with an electric drill. He explains that they’ve stumbled about their own Brettanomyces strain, which was lurking somewhere around the premises and crept into one barrel. It’s apt really, given the work Clausen put into researching Brettanomyces here.
Coffee mint Stout with Brettanomyces. That’s what we’re tasting. Impressive stuff, with a lovely vinous character without being overly tart. Not exactly the sort of beer you’d associate with Carlsberg. Though if you’ve been keeping pace with recent developments in Denmark, you may not be so surprised. Jacobsen has been turning out modern-style beers for more than a decade.
We finish in a cellar stuffed to the rafters with crates of beer. A real Aladdin’s cave of Carlsberg. Bjarke suggests trying a special brew of, er, Special Brew, which is several years old. Unlike the normal version, this one is amber in colour. The darker malts have helped it cope better with oxidation. It’s rather tasty. So much so that I take a couple of bottles home.
The archives are right over the other side of the complex. It’s a bit of a walk, but it does take us right past the nicest bits of Ny Carlsberg, with the elephant gate amongst other architectural delights. Bjarke’s pass won’t work on the archive door and he has to ring one of the archivists to let us in.
They’ve already got brewing records out for me. I dive right in, starting at 1867. With Carl Jacobsen’s personal brewing book from his time in Britain. William Younger in Edinburgh and Evershed in Burton. With at the back brews at Ny Carlsberg. It’s the most amazing brewing book I’ve ever seen.
Young Carl obviously picked up the blank book at William Younger. I’d recognise that format anywhere. I realise that his time at Younger coincides with some of their records I’ve photographed. That’s handy. Some of those pictures are a bit blurry.
Bjarke had told me Jacobsen wanted to brew Ales when he got back from Britain. Sure enough, they’re there. Stout, Pale Ale, Strong Ale, Table Beer and . . . Mild Ale. This is so weird. Carlsberg Mild. It takes me a while to get my head around that. But no time to waste. There will be plenty of time to ponder later. My time here is limited and I mean to use it fully.
752 photographs later and it’s time to leave. I’m totally knacked. It’s a long, slow walk back to my hotel. My feet are killing me. But the sun is shining, the birds are singing and people are drinking beer in pavement cafés.
I notice Ølbutikken. Didn’t spot that on the way out. I nip in and buy a couple of bottles for later. I could have drunk them there, but I need a lie down.
After a couple of hours lounging around my hotel I decide to venture out. Not far, mind. Only as far as Brewpub. Can’t be arsed to walk any further. On the way I stop by a pølsevogn on the town hall square. I get the most bratwurst-like sausage in a roll so dry it crumbles in my hand.
It’s pretty full – it is almost 8 PM on a Friday – but I find a seat at the bar. Let’s start with something dark:
Cole US Porter, 5.2% ABV
Another black malt affair. It has seven malts. Sounds like three or four too many. I was surprised to see that Carlsberg were still using brown malt in the DBS Stout in the 1920’s. I snapped records from 1867 to 1934. A pretty good spread.
Surprised that there’s nothing over 6% ABV on draught.
Weird that I collected some more Younger and Evershed records today. Especially the latter. More Burton Pale Ale recipes. Life throws up some weird shit.
I feel like sleeping, if I’m honest. Who would have thought taking photos could be so tiring? I’m yawning away like crazy.
At least the Lager history Rod wants me to write is getting more feasible. I just need to look at the records of a few Bavarian and Czech breweries I am totally insane to even consider such a project. At least three or four years of heavy research needed.
I managed to miss the Belgian Dubbel at 7.5^ ABV. I must be tired. Guess that’s next.
Just saw them pour some 80/-. It’s almost black. Guess they’ve never drunk a Scottish one.
Abbaye de Villiers (Belgian Dubbel, 7.5% ABV)
Right colour, unlike the 80 bob. Bit sweet. With some sort of infection/funky thing going on in the background. Bit odd. Not sure I like the effect of the champagne yeast/
Ah – it just clicked. Was Jacobsen the reason William Younger brewed a Pilsner in the 1870’s? Who would have thought I’d learn about Scottish beer in Copenhagen?
I leave it at just the two beers. On the way back I stop at the other pølsevogn on the town hall square. I skip the bread this time and stick with just a bratwurst-like thing. That’ll do for my tea.
I’ve an event-type thing tomorrow afternoon. Shouldn’t be too late to bed.
1650 København V.
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1456 København K.
Tel.: 33 32 00 60
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