Having recently received an offer to visit Copenhagen’s Beer Week, I jumped at the chance.
Following a 75-minute flight from London-Stansted into Copenhagen Kastrup International Airport, the Danish capital’s efficient Metro system takes you directly into the city centre. An easy switch to an S-train and two stops later I was in the Carlsberg City District, location of Brøchner Hotels’ boutique Hotel Ottilia where I would spend three nights on a bed and breakfast basis, courtesy of WonderfulCopenhagen.
With 155 comfortable bedrooms, the 4+ star Hotel Ottilia is named after the wife of Carlsberg Brewery founder Carl Jacobsen while the iconic building itself retains an authentic industrial charm, despite having once been two separate brewery buildings.
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All rooms and suites have a cool industrial look with very high ceilings and some spectacular lighting. The rooms are well sound-proofed which, considering all the redevelopment building work going on in the area, was much appreciated. Unfortunately I didn’t get chance to use the hotel’s spa and wellness facilities in the basement but I did enjoy a decent glass of wine or two in the Lobby Bar.
The Ottilia has a superb fifth floor terrace and Italian restaurant – where I enjoyed a sensational breakfast – while it also allows you great views over the former Carlsberg Brewery site which retains many of its historic rooftop statues as well as some truly stunning architecture.
Meeting up with tour guides from The Food Organisation of Denmark the following morning, we set off on foot around the Carlsberg City District accompanied by architectural student Peter who enthusiastically described the many different styles being incorporated into the newly-constructed buildings.
We had lunch at Carl’s Beer & Eatery accompanied by beer historian Bjarke Bundgaard in the heart of the Carlsberg District which boasts more than 100 different beers, three of which accompanied our traditional tasty smorgasbord open sandwiches on rye bread. The 'filling' comprised of shrimps, fish and various meats while I also loved the after-lunch hibiscus sour liqueur.
The official opening of Copenhagen Beer Week took place on Wednesday afternoon at Anarkist, a Danish beer bar close to Tivoli Garden. That evening we enjoyed a Nordic-style dinner at Barr, a restaurant specialising in Baltic and North Sea cuisine. The historic building was once the gastronomic mecca of Noma and top chef Rene Redzepi which was named several times as the world’s best restaurant.
Pairing food and beer, the four courses were excellent and comprised sea bass, a stunning steak tartare, cod with seasoned mushrooms and to finish, a delicious rhubarb dessert.
The following morning we had a brisk walk from the hotel to Copenhagen’s industrial Meatpacking District where we visited ÅBEN which had been named 'Brewery of the Year' in 2019. It was a remarkable feat indeed as it had only been in existence for two years after owner Philip Hulgaard turned his childhood family farm into a brewery.
Still under construction behind what looked like a temporary pop-up bar is the brand new ÅBEN brewery – it means ‘to be open’ in Danish – while its Suffolk-born masterbrewer Jack Delany showed us around.
A visit to Restaurant Møntergade took our lunchtime dining experience to a whole different level. Comprising seven amazing courses accompanied by four different beers, Møntergade was founded by Michelin-starred restaurant Formel B and is regarded as one of the best open-faced sandwich places to eat in Copenhagen.
Specialising in fish – herring, plaice, salmon and cod – by adding sea buckthorn, eggs, chicken and all manner of herbs and dressings on rye bread, it was truly a real banquet - and especially the delicious strawberry, rhubarb and vanilla ice cream dessert.
With free time in the afternoon from a busy itinerary, I opted for a one hour canal and harbour cruise from Ved Stranden using my Copenhagen Card as I knew time would be limited. It also gave me the chance to see the new Opera House, the Amalienborg Palace the Black Diamond, ‘BLOX’ and a back view of the city’s best known statue, The Little Mermaid.
That evening we met at Nørrebro Bryghus brewhouse, a small local brewery in Ryesgade, where we had another stunning meal accompanied by more tasty craft beers. Opened in 2003, like many of Denmark’s microbreweries, Nørrebro specialises in organic and natural tasting brews but unlike the others, it uses the brewed barley and hops to make tasty puffy-style crisps.
Our final day saw us drive out of the city some 40 kilometres to the village of Herslev. First we visited Herslev Brewery which produces 40 different types of natural organic beers in IPA and Pilsner styles using only ingredients grown in the surrounding area.
With low alcohol beers on the increase worldwide, Herslev Brewery has created a delicious number called Under The Sun which has proven very popular. Last year alone, this small brewery produced more than 600,000 litres of ‘nature beer’ which was supplied to local shops and supermarkets.
Just across from the brewery we visited a quite remarkable chocolate factory which has swept the board in worldwide competition. Mikkel Friis-Holm’s Chokolade company uses the finest beans from around the world, with some his equipment more than 100 years old.
Our final afternoon saw us return to the city for a guided tour of ØlTorvet (roughly translated as Beer Square) and as it was a nationwide holiday, the place was heaving. ØlTorvet is the signature event of Copenhagen Beer Week and with 30 microbreweries showcasing the best of Danish craft beers, the atmosphere was electric.
Copenhagen Beer Week 2022 runs until May 21. See visitdenmark.com for more information about the country.