We Brits are spoilt and lazy. This is not a character assassination of the general public but what I'm talking about here is how lucky we are to live where we do. We are spoilt by being enviably located geographically in the centre of the world, Europe is merely a train ride away and English is (thankfully) the adopted spoken language of the world meaning we can venture where we like without scrabbling around for a dictionary just to get a taxi home. The ease with which we can explore Europe is taken for granted and in my experience rarely fully exploited. This is why I embraced the opportunity to explore Copenhagen for 2 days with someone I barely knew! (I won't explain the context here). The twitter community urged me to check out the Mikkeller Bars if i was in search of the best local brews. These guys have 2 bars in Copenhagen serving beer from a plethora of wall mounted American Style taps, most of which is brewed in house but they also offer guest beers in tap. Clearly the bars have been cleverly designed from both the server and the consumer's perspective. The concept seems simple, offer an enticing, 'cool' and convivial atmosphere to enjoy drinking good beer. This is delivered through clean interiors, communal tables and very informative staff who speak flawless English of course. We worked our way through a large number of pales and IPA's sticking to the Mikeller beers (when in Rome...) such as the simcoe and citra.
For me, the absolute stand out king was the Sorachi IPA using Japanese hops. This was an absolutely delightful combination of sweet candy almost like candy floss, hints of fudge but still with a nice refreshing hoppy feel. Id never tasted anything quite like this and I'm still dreaming about this stuff! The Mikeller and Friends bar is the larger of the two and had around 40 taps serving a huge selection of inventively named beers. The staff were constantly updating the chalk board with the names and numbers of the beers as the barrels were drained and freshly replenished.
There were at least four or five different IPA's, stouts, pale and amber ales available to those wanting to move through the styles horizontally or vertically. Go and spend a few hours in either of the bars, enjoy the ambience and get chatting to some locals. This is Copenhagen. Clearly any visit to Copenhagen would not be complete without a visit to the home of the beer that the Danes love so much 'they hate hate to see leave'. You cannot escape Carlsberg when in Copenhagen and the Brewery Tour is a continuation of the Danish love affair. The visitor experience centre not only contains every conceivable Carlsberg marketable item but they have also amassed the largest collection of beer bottles in the world as certified by Guinness Book of World Records. Set aside a few hours for the tour if you are interested in brewing. I'd have liked to do the guided tour if I'd known about it in advance.
Copenhagen itself was a great city, friendly people, picturesque and walk-around-able if you prefer to just go exploring. It is also clearly very trendy with good bars and is undergoing a good deal of gentrification turning some of the less desirable areas into a city playground for the young Danish Hipsters. If you find yourself there, make sure you pay a visit to Christiania. This is a fascinating 34hectare self run community which proudly proclaims its independence from Denmark and the EU. Christiania seems to function harmoniously and efficiently with its own laws and welcomes tourists assuming they do not embark on taking photos on their smart phones or SLR's. Surrounding the meandering and haphazardly formed and reclaimed neighbourhood is also some beautiful landscape to enjoy. Aside from 'Pusher Street' where soft drugs are openly sold there are numerous cafes and bars to enjoy a few cold ones and soak up the hippy vibe. Why not use beer as an excuse to get over to Europe? You'll find Copenhagen is great place to explore. I'm finishing this here before I sound too much like a travel brochure.
Thanks for reading CP