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Great Beer Festivals: A new frontier

Thirsting for new experiences, 3,000 Danes attended the country's first national beer festival this past weekend. At times, there were long lines, despite heavy rain. The event was held in a former trolley barn in Copenhagen.

Carlsberg chief
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Despite a great beer tradition, this small country (population five million) has only about 15 breweries. Nonetheless, there were almost 100 Danish beers, and slightly more from other countries, at the festival. Never before had such a range been seen under one roof in Denmark.

As at the Great American and Great British Festivals, many consumers were having their first exposure to some small-brewery beers from their own country.

I had a rare opportunity to taste my favorite Danish beer, the Skibsol, of the Refsvindinge farmhouse brewery. This brewery, near Nyborg, not far from Odense, has just passed to a new generation of the owning family. They were present to serve their products. The brewery makes its own smoked malt for the tar-like Skibsøl.

From the most traditional beer to the newest: announcing their evolution from high-tech home-brewers to semi-pros, computer consultant Allen Poulsen and engineer Frank Bergenholtz impressed adventurous drinkers with their fruity-tasting Brockhouse Special. This beer heavily features Belgian "Special B" malt.

Such innovations are a reaction to many local brewers' traditional insistence on imitating the mainstream Pilsener-style lager made by Carlsberg. the country's international giant. Carlsberg has more than 70 per cent of the Danish market.

Meanwhile, the once-conservative Carlsberg has added a fourth innovative brew to its Semper Ardens range, which I have already reviewed. I was invited the brewery by CEO Flemming Lindelov to taste the new Weisse, soft, smooth, and cleanly fruity. A Weissbier yeast producing only moderate phenol is used, and a dash of apple juice is added. Carlsberg even produced a second wheat beer just for the festival. This one was very fruity, despite an absence of juice, and stronger, at 6.4 per cent alcohol by volume. The company had at its booth about 20 beers under the Carlsberg, Tuborg and Wiibroe labels.

To show goodwill, Lindelov also appeared in person, demanded a shirt from the Danish Beer Enthusiasts (the campaigning organisation that organised the festival), and wore it for the course of his visit.


Published: MAY 1, 2001
In: Beer Hunter Online

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