Once again I have circled this planet, and yet again, I spent my birthday drinking beers at Mikkellers wonderful beer celebration.
At the end of last year, my friend asked me if I wanted to go with him to the beer festival in Groningen in the Netherlands. I had sort of made my mind up I wanted to go to the Mikkeller beer festival in Copenhagen since I missed the one in 2017. But I thought, “well, it’s more than 6 months away, sodd it, I’ll do both!”. So, I did. The once in Groningen was wonderful, and you can read about here at Tvillingeriget, but now it’s the time for yet another beer journey to experience all things Mikkeller.
I planned my vacation so I could first spend a few relaxing days in my home in Skagen, Denmark. One un-eventful ferry ride from Oslo later, and I got into my normal routines. However, after a cold winter, Scandinavia offered up a full summer in May, so truth be told, I did spend a bit more time going out in Skagen, drinking beers at Green’s and Skagen Bryghus. I also had a nice box of beers waiting for from Mikkeller, and I did a bit of field work, promoting the Nordic Brew Festival in October to some bars and places up north.
So my plan was to head to Copenhagen on Thursday, spend the first day going to some new places, and then head for the Mikkeller Beer Celebration Copenhagen 2018 extravaganza on the Friday and the Saturday (my birthday). But one thing has been bugging me over the years, I have never been to Odense! Denmark’s third city is a complete mystery to me. Now, Mikkeller recently opened a bar in down town Odense, so I thought “Let’s have one night there first!”. So Wednesday came and I was on my way to Odense.
Avoiding the urge to jump train in the more familiar Aarhus, I arrived around 2 in the afternoon, got my luggage into my hotel and headed pretty much straight for Mikkeller Bar Odense. A brand-new bar in what used to be a bakery I think, it is cozy, bit more spacious than Victoriagade and you walk up a couple of steps. At the far end of the bar is a set of doors that leads to a tiny and very nice Mikkellers Bottle-shop.
As I always do, I told the people working here a little about myself, my journey and all, and they responded with curiosity and kindness, making me feel right at home. I was a bit late for recent tap-takeover, so the beers where perhaps a bit predictable, but I got plenty of beers that I had never had, and I was allowed to taste some beers they were trying and the off duty bartender had with him.
I had a really nice time.
So, I did walk around Odense for a while, not getting that much of an impression of the place, but enough to want to come back. I did have a burger at a place I was recommended called “Jagger” but it was rather tasteless, swimming in fat with french fries that tastes like the frozen bag we bring home, but after that I had some lovely beers at the townhall square, place called Bryggeriet Flakhaven and later on at Christian Firtal.
Odense was a great start to my beer safari.
The day after I headed towards Copenhagen with sort of a plan. I knew I wouldn’t be allowed to check-in to my hotel for another 4 hours on arrival, so I deposited my luggage at the central station, and then I headed out to Refshaleøen.
This is a place I’ve tried to go for these past 2 years. It is on the northern part of the islands and fortifications that once ringed Copenhagen and housed the bulk of the Danish-Norwegian and then after 1814 just Danish Navy. Now it has been abandoned and left to developers, culture, housing and one Mikkel Borg Bjergsø (Mikkeller). This is where Mikkeller Baghaven is.
Situated inside and old industrial building, this is where Mikkeller blends and develops his sour beers. An exciting place on paper, but a bit of a bitch to get to after a long train journey and maybe more so with a belly full of beer.
So, I get there, and there’s this line. Now, I’ve never been here, and its Beer Week, so I dutifully get in line, like some British person, without knowing quite why and for what reason I am in line. I thought it was to get into the place itself. So, after half an hour it turns out I’m in line to buy some special American and Mikkeller beers off the back of a truck, and at this stage I’ve invested so much time to this, I don’t want to give up my place, even though it means standing around thirsty and hungry for what turns out to be 90 minutes. No one else seems to be on their own, so everyone gets drink and food for each other and I’m feeling somewhat miserable at this stage, as there are children here, and I don’t like them much, specially when I’m hungry and irritable in the heat.
The first 48 people got a special beer, I was number 56, fair enough, I did buy some aweseom beers and then…
I had to stand in line for 35 minutes to get a beer at the bar in Baghaven. I must say, this was a bit of a shambles. Someone needs to take charge at the bar, not let one American woman tie up 3 people with endless questions, if you don’t know the answer to every single question, let it go, don’t involve the other 3 who don’t seem to know how the cash register works, where things are and so on. The clearly drunk white dude with the Rastafari hair most likely doesn’t need to be shown every bottle of spirits you have, and the endless arrival of current and former Mikkellers employees who have a day off doesn’t mean you should drop everything and start hugging for minutes at a time when you have a huge line of customers!
So, ok, I’m a bit miffed at this experience, I order two beers straight away, drink them and go back to the center of Copenhagen.
Do I want to go back out here? Well, sort of, but perhaps find a slower day?
So, carrying lots of heavy beers, I get my luggage and find my way to the hotel. Once there I think I fell asleep for an hour and was a bit worried I lost time to go to all the Copenhagen place I wanted to get to when something inside me said, “do something no one else visiting Copenhagen Beer Week will do!” So, I got on a train and went to Malmö in Sweden.
Yes, I decided to visit Malmö BrewDog Bar, get a stamp in my BrewDog visabook and eat some chicken wings over a beer!
The BrewDog bar in Malmö was really nice. I liked the interior, and the bar a lot. Not least because it is alongside the one in Cardiff the most spacious one. And as is so often the case, the guys working here were really good people people. Lots of room outside, some really nice beers in the fridge, I wish I could have stayed longer.
I did the whole thing in just over 2 hours, and felt somehow that I had “beated the man”, whoever the man in the scenario is, and gotten my own back for all the time I stood in line at Baghaven. Most likely this cost me visits to other beer places in Copenhagen, but you know what, I do a lot of weird shit for beers anyhow.
Once I was back in Copenhagen I had enough energy left over from the chicken wings to go for a walk, and I ended up a WarPigs. It was SO full of people, but lucky for me, I didn’t get into the wrong line again, the line for beer was perhaps 1/5 the line for food!
Spent a couple of hours here, music was loud and heavy, beers also loud and heavy (ha, ha), while waiting for some friends from Manchester. We finally met, exchanged some beers and I went to the hotel and fell asleep pretty damned fast!
The next two days were spent with thousands of beer geeks like myself at the Mikkeller Beer Celebration Copenhagen 2018.
The lineup was very impressive, the set-up much like it was in 201. I did find the customers a little “better” this time around. There were less openly drunk people, and fewer “assholes”. I did miss being there with my friend, but I decided to not get too caught up in things, go at my own pace, and avoid standing in lines for those “whales”. For every “whale” someone drank, I had 3-4 other beers, a nice break, some fresh air and perhaps some food. I loved the food trucks this year btw. A good selection of “craft food”, it made it easier to go out and soak up some of the beers compared to how it was two years ago, well, in my opinion anyhow.
I’m not sure I like the lay-out better or not this year. I felt like I kept walking from one end to another across a lot of “dead space” and placing some of the most popular breweries on the sides where the created long lines that cut through the entire hall might not have been a great move, but again I might have be annoyed from standing in line a lot the day before?
One fun thing to do was pick out a couple of breweries and drink all their beers “no matter what”. This year I picked TRVE from Denver Colorado, Devils Peak from South Africa, Amager and Ebeltoft. Isn’t it wonderful to be weird? Hi hiii! The guys at Devils Peak was finally so impressed wit my insisting on drinking ever beer and greeting them on Afrikaans and when I knew about bands like Spring Bok Nudegirls and Fokofpolisikar, they gave me a pin, a cap and a t-shirt! Brewers are the nicest people, are the not? Or is it beer drinkers perhaps?
In the break between sessions I had a lovely time. On the Friday I went back to WarPigs (I love that place!) and had some more beer and met a lovely person I know in Copenhagen. I also check out another new Mikkeller venture, the Mikkeller General Store. Almost right next to WarPigs it offers up a place to bu some more beers, as well as food and merchandise. A fun store or “our kind”.
On my birthday (12th of May) I didn’t go straight for the festival. Instead I had breakfast at a Espresso House and then I headed to my favorite shop in Copenhagen, Faraos Cigarer. It is among other things and comic store, and I got the last of the Spirou et Fantasio books for my collection. Now that’s a birthday present to me!
Pleased by all of this and the rest of the beer festival, I also had time to go to Fermentoren, Kihoskh and Rbabarrab where I had some really excellent beers and burgers as well. At Fermenoren I met and spoke to a group of Irish lads. They were terrific, and I also met several set of British people on this trip that I spoke a lot. That almost always seems to case, I meet great people from the UK. Why are yo leaving us?
There were a fairly large group of Norwegians her as well, dressed in some pretty old Heavy Metal garb. As soon as I said I loved Saxon, I had people I coud speak to for hours. There even were some kids doing some cosplay!
I could go on about all the breweries present, all the nice talks I had at the festival and so on, but I think you get the drift. I went to Denmark for a nice vacation, and then to celebrate myself and my love of beer at one of the greatest beers festivals around.
I managed to have my cake and eat it to, you know what I’m saying’?