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Beer in Copenhagen: Fermentoren

As well as having Mikkeller Bar and some great restaurants in the meat packing district, Vesterbro is also the location of another great little beer bar in Fermentoren.  It’s at 29c Halmtorvet, along the same road as the meatpacking district and on the corner of another road (Skelbækgade) that takes you to Dybbølsbro railway station.

I expect that Fermentoren will always be secondary to Mikkeller Bar in most people’s eyes, but it’s a cosy basement bar with good music, helpful staff and a great little selection of craft beers, mainly from Danish microbreweries, and staff who are happy to help you choose. You can check out the current tap list on their Facebook page.

I should also make special mention of the gent’s toilets, which have a bunch of quotes from The Big Lebowski stencilled on the wall.

During the course of a couple of visits, Kate and I tried:

  • Dry-Hopped Saison Dupont on keg (lovely);
  • Croocked Moon Stonewall IPA , a fresh US-style IPA with a grapeskin hoppiness;
  • Flying Couch Paint It Black IPA, a good example of a black IPA which had a slightly stouty profile (coffee and vanilla), that burnt rubber/waterwings smell and taste that you only ever seem to get in this style, and a nice fresh hoppiness;
  • Fanø Edison Tripel, a delicious smooth tripel with a noticeable coriander taste; and
  • Beer Here Hopticulus, a malt-and-hop bomb of an IPA with a note of celery.

Fermentoren serves well as a place for winding down with a good Danish craft beer after dinner, but it also has an outside area if you’re lucky enough to get a warm, sunny afternoon.

Beer in Copenhagen: Mikkeller Bar

If you’re reading this blog at all, I assume you’ve heard of Mikkeller, the Danish microbrewery which has since 2006 been producing a vast range of innovative beers in a range of styles, inspired by and building on the work of the most interesting American craft breweries.  I also assume you know that Mikkeller does not have a brewery of its own, but produces its beers at other breweries in Denmark and beyond.

I further assume that, knowing this, and having tried Mikkeller beers, you would already be excited to go to the small, stylish Mikkeller Bar in Copenhagen.  So, what with you being so well-informed, I’ll just make a few observations on it, why you should go, and why we visited three times when we were in Denmark:

  • It’s beautifully designed, as you can see from the pictures on Mikkeller’s new website. It’s clean and minimalist, but also stylish and quirky. The high tables look like drawers and the furniture makes the best use of the space.
  • It’s a small bar with good music at an appropriate level, which makes it feel cozy (hyggelig?), where the light colour scheme and bare design might otherwise make it feel cold.

  • They have the type of snacks that can be dealt with by a single member of staff, so nothing hot. However the porter sausage is superb.
  • There’s free wifi, which seems designed to allow you to send tweets to provoke jealousy.
  • It’s on Viktoriagade, not too far from Copenhagen Central Station (København H) and is in the trendy Vesterbro area.  Vesterbro seems to be one of those post-industrial up-and-coming areas has quite a few good bars and restaurants (on which more in a later post), although bear in mind that this sits alongside a (not unusually unpleasant) red light district, particularly on Istedgade.

And then, of course, there are the beers.  There are 20 taps with a fairly wide range of styles of beer beyond just Mikkeller, including a number of Danish breweries.  Most people seem to enjoy the beers in the smallest, 0.2l measures, in dinky stem glasses.

On keg we enjoyed:

  • Mikkeller G’Day Mate APA, a nice fresh fruity pale ale with hints of grapeskins and apples;
  • Heretic Evil Cousin IIPA, an excellent fresh slightly sweet IIPA with a building bitterness;
  • Triple Rock Pacific Gem Single Hop, which had a slightly wateriness and a sweet almost Belgian taste;
  • Hill Farmstead Genealogy, a powerful imperial stout from Vermont with a dark espresso foam head which nonetheless had a lot of fresh American hop flavour lifting it;
  • De Dolle Bos Keun, this year’s version of the hoppy Belgian Easter pale ale;
  • Mikkeller It’s Alight, a refreshing if slightly watery session strength version of Mikkeller’s Orvalalike It’s Alive, which had a little lemony sharpnes on the finish;
  • Mikkeller 1000 IBU, which despite its fearsome reputation was an enjoyable big sweet malt and hop bonanza not unlike Stone Double Bastard;
  • Mikkeller Big Worse, simply a good, bitter US-style barleywine; and
  • Mikkeller K:RELK, a pale ale with limes and orange on the nose but a relatively restrained flavour.

The bottle menu is pretty astonishing, and we also enjoyed a 2007 Orval, in which the leatheryness was cut through with a pleasant  gueuze-like citrus sharpness.  Following the wine-aged beers we had tried with Garrett Oliver, we also decided to buy a bottle of Hill Farmstead Flora, a wine barrel-aged version of their 5% wheat saison.  This was a wonderful, refreshing and refined drink, with all the charms of a Saison Dupont but rounded off with a little white wine.

If I were given to hyperbole, I might say that Mikkeller Bar is the craft beer equivalent of Copenhagen’s famous Noma restaurant. I will say, though, that if it were a restaurant it would similarly merit three Michelin stars: “exceptional… worth a special journey“. Or two special journeys, or even three.

Winter Wonderland: Anchor v BrewDog v Corsendonk v Bush v Dupont v Flying Dog v Sierra Nevada

December 21, 2011 5 comments

Seasonal beers; and what season is more seasonal than the season we’re in right now, eh?  Even the food is all about the seasoning, and so are a lot of the beers: spicy and warming.  Not usually what I look for in a beer. However, ’tis the season.

Anchor Special Ale 2011 (5.5%)

Even though it’s not a preferred style, the annual edition of this beer is something I’ve come to look forward to like the new Beano Annual.  The empty bottle will join its brothers on my shelf.  It can be proud in the knowledge that it smelled of nutmeg and berries; tasted as deep and comforting as its dark brown colour, not too sweet or strong, but with a warming spicy bitterness.  This is a very good Christmas beer indeed.

BrewDog There Is No Santa (4.7%)

Ever the pseudo-contrarians when it comes to marketing, I wonder if BrewDog think there is no Santa just because they’ve been very naughty boys and never get any presents. The slightly Scrooge-like beer name doesn’t hide the fact that they’ve gone into the Christmas beer market with both paws this year, also releasing Christmas Porter, a spiced version of Alice Porter.  The aroma is very Christmassy: sweet and spicy, with noticeable cinnamon.  It’s similar in appearance to Anchor’s style, and inhabits the same ground as a warming spiced brown ale, with  a relatively moderate ABV for the time of year. A very nice beer in the end: Dog bless us, every one.

Bush de Noël (aka Scaldis de Noël) (12%)

Yikes.  The foil label doesn’t do subtlety or sophistication (Ghost Drinker compared it to the foil on cheap chocolate decorations) and 12% suggests real overindulgence.  It is the Christmas version of “The Strongest Belgian Beer” and has a big, very sweet marzipan, cakey aroma.  It’s thick on the tongue with some spiciness but a lot of burnt sugar indeed.  I decided that what the situation required was some cheese, and some Blacksticks Blue and spiced apple chutney allowed me to appreciate the bitterness on the finish, when the burnt sugar subsided.

Corsendonk Christmas Ale (8.5%)

No more classy in its get-up is the similarly Belgian Corsendonk.  This one smells like a sweet spicy dark Belgian beer, and has a lot of sweetness, although a much lighter variety.  Again this benefited from raiding the fridge for cheese and a very pleasant bit of Reblochon helped me to appreciate it much more.  It was still very, very fizzy though.

Brasserie Dupont – Avec Les Bons Vœux De La Brasserie Dupont (9.5%)

Less a Christmas ale than a Christmas present (formerly exclusively for Dupont’s best clients), this is a very special beer.  It’s a nice light saison (come Tripel, maybe?) with a perfectly balanced hoppy character (a little grassiness) which drinks about half its weight. Admittedly this has become of my favourite styles of beer this year, but this is an instant favourite, and a new Christmas tradition if I have my way.

Flying Dog K-9 Cruiser (7.4%)

This Winter Ale is portrayed less as a Christmas ale than some sort of tribute to pet dogs who aren’t allowed to go snowboarding with you but are still up on the slopes with you in spirit.  Or something.  Poor Ralph Steadman. A slightly boozy nose and chestnut colour, then a malty beer which wasn’t too sweet or heavy, with a pleasant and relatively restrained spiciness on the swallow. Quite enjoyable, but not exactly The Beano Annual.  The Topper Annual, maybe.

Sierra Nevada Celebration 2010 (6.8%)

Ah now, this is last year’s Celebration, with an October 2011 best before date.  So, whilst it’s not the lovely fresh hopped winter IPA it once was, there is the ghost of Hopmas past lingering on the swallow, after the light caramel sweetness.  A little bit of dryness on the finish too, building on the longer swallows to a dry, slighty woody, piney taste.  A slightly withered, but still celebratory Christmas tree.

So these disparate winter and Christmas seasonals, of various styles, contained some real crackers and not a single turkey; and there are certainly no leftovers  Most of them are available were I bought them (the superb Beer Ritz), and I’d encourage you to visit your own local independent beer shop this Christmas.

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