17 May, 2009

The Ølfestival in Copenhagen, Denmark

This weekend was the Ølfestival (Danish beer festival) in Copenhagen. The fest is not just for Danish beers though, they had beers from the U.S., Italy, Sweden, Germany, England, Belgium along with Danish beers of course and probably a few other countries I am forgetting. All totaled there were probably over 1,000 beers and it had to be if not the best, probably the second best beer festival I have ever been to. The Danes really know how to run an efficient festival and make it a fun experience. There was not much in the line of drunk frat boys roaming around screaming and dropping their glasses like we get at fest in the U.S. Ok..there was a little of that but not much!

I had not planned in advance to go to the festival but after finding a pretty cheap flight from Brussels and a tiny and inexpensive hotel in Copenhagen, I was off on my own to the fest. My flight left Brussels at 7 am so I was up and out of the apartment a little after 3 am on the road to Brussels. The drive is very quick when there is hardly any road traffic. A short 1 and 1/2 hour flight and I was in Copenhagen. Another 10 minute train ride from the airport and I was in the center of town.

After checking into the hotel, I was off on a little shopping mission. When Paula and I visited Copenhagen back in August she fell in love with some cool rubber Scandanavian boots called Viking boots but she did not buy them and has regretted it since. We looked online but were not able to find these Viking boots for sale anywhere near us in Luxembourg. So when I decided to go back to Copenhagen for the beerfest, Paula made sure that I would look for these elusive boots. I did and I found them and brought home 2 pairs for her and I got 1 pair for me for good measure!

The festival started at 2pm on Friday but before heading there I had to make a shopping stop of my own at one of the best beer stores in the world, Olbutikken, run by the brother of the brewer at Mikkeller in Denmark. I had a bag full of beer I brought over from Luxembourg to trade with the owner Jeppe so I grabbed one of the free Copenhagen city bikes and peddled myself the mile or so from the hotel to the store. They were set to open up at noon and I figured I would get there a few minutes early but was surpised to find a line of about 20 people deep waiting to get in! I headed to the back of the line to wait out the opening. Once inside it was very tight but I managed to get a nice selection of very hard to get beers and then headed back to the hotel to get ready for the fest.

My hotel was only about 200 yards from the main Copenhagen train station so after a quick walk and a 10 minute train ride I was at the festival location. It was about 3pm on a Friday so the fest was not as crowded as it would be later in the day so I had a good run of the place and whatever I wanted to sample at the time. With the price of admission you get a nice little tasting glass, 10 tokens for samples and a handy little festival guide with descriptions of every beer for sample, all 1,000 or more! Now 99.9% of the descriptions were in Danish which I can't read but at least it said what style each beer was and it also pointed out the times for special keg tappings for limited beers so I made a handy little list of my must have beers.

Over the course of Friday and Saturday I was lucky enough to sample about 56 of the worlds best and most extreme / cutting edge beers, many of which will never be sold in bottles or will not make it the part of Europe where we live or to the U.S.

Check out pictures from my weekend fest trip to Copenhagen

Check out the list of beers that I was lucky enough to sample in Copenhagen

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