|Bikes dominate Copenhagen, and, of course, bike shops!|
The glass was very, very small, but we could get it filled multiple times with the same beer if we wanted another sample. We didn't do this, though. Andrej and I made our way through 110 beers out of roughly 270 on offer at the festival. There were around 29 brewers there, most of them from America. There were many, many barrel aged beers, many Imperial Stouts (almost all barrel aged), many extremely strong beers, many Brett beers, many sours, many IPAs and Imperial IPAs. A beer geek's paradise. Simply put, it's the best beer festival I've ever attended and I've been to a few.
|Andrej at Mikkeler and Friends, a bar co owned by Mikkeller and To Ol.|
There were a number of really great brewers at the festival. I found that I had my favorites, of course, and I tried most, if not all of their beers. The real standouts for me were Anchorage Brewing, Westbrook Brewing, Lervig Aktiebryggerri, Amager Bryghus and Jester King. These guys were all doing a lot of Brett or wild inspired beers and had many good ones on offer. My top 2 were Anchorage and Westbrook. I kept going to them over and over and tried almost all of their beers. I managed to buy a bottle of Anchorage's beer "Love Buzz Saison" to take home and shared with a friend and we loved it. 8% abv Saison with 40 ibus that uses a regular Belgian yeast for primary, then does a secondary in a wine barrel with Brett. Amazing beer. The Brett level is just right. It's there, it's in your face, but it's also pleasant.
Some of the brewers were also disappointing, however. Before the show, I had been looking forward to the brewers from more distant locales; China, Japan, Brazil, Australia. The brewers from China and Japan were actually Americans. And they seemed to me to be making mostly very mainstream American ales of various sorts, nothing too wild, nothing too experimental. The brewers from Australia and Brazil had good beer, but nothing extreme, nothing very adventurous and I went to this festival for adventurous beers.
Here are a few beers that stood out as extra tasty or interesting to me:
From Amager Bryghus, a brewery from Denmark:
Showdown in Tourpes. This is labelled as a US style Saison, but my notes indicate it was hoppy like an IPA. Tomahawk, Citra and Amarillo hops in this one.
Hr. Papso in Black, a Black APA. Extremely nice. Very hoppy with some black grain character. Dry but full bodied.
Godverdomme, a Flemish Red. A lovely sour beer.
From Anchorage Brewing, an Alaskan brewery:
The Tides and its Takers Tripel, 9.0% abv, a barrel aged tripel with Brettanomyces. Nice beer. Some nice Brett funk here that reminded me of Orval.
Anadromous Black Sour, 8.5% abv. Belgian Sacch. strain used for primary, Brett from wood aging and a pedio/lactic blend for souring. Funky beer and a really nice sour. Maybe the best sour I had at this festival.
Love Buzz Saison, 8% abv, a barrel aged Saison with Brettanomyces and rose hips and peppercorns. Hugely complex. Funky with tangy fruit. Not only hugely interesting, but hugely tasty!
From Brewdog of Scotland:
Abstrakt 12, a Belgian Black Imperial IPA with Scottish berries.
Hello, My Name is Ingrid, a Double IPA that used cloudberries, a type of berry from Sweden. Bramling Cross, Columbus, Centennial and Nelson Sauvin for the hops. Some berry notes and some elderflower character from the Nelson Sauvin. Those hops mixed well with the berries. Fruit not overdone. Nice balance. Complex, interesting and tasty.
From Cigar City Brewing, a Florida brewery:
Dos Costas Saison aged on lemon wood with Brettanomyces. Soft Brett character here. A dry, well rounded beer with tangy notes. Pretty soft and quite nice.
From Firestone Walker in California:
Parabola, a Bourbon barrel aged Imperial Stout, 12.5% abv. Awesome RIS. Very rich and full of character.
Sadly, I didn't care for any of their other beers and I tried a bunch. Most were too sweet for me.
From The Kernel Brewery in the UK:
India Pale Ale Double Citra, 9.8% abv. Wow! Awesome! Very hoppy, naturally. Nice balance. A touch sweet in the mouth but finishes dry.
From Lervig Aktiebryggeri in Norway:
Farmhouse Stout, 10.6% abv. They used White Labs WLP670 American Farmhouse Blend in this, which has a Belgian Saison yeast and Brett. The beer was very nice. Loads of esters and a touch of Brett.
Chair Beer, 4.0%. A 100% Brett Trois ale. Fruity and dry with a slight funk. Quite nice.
From Mikkeller himself:
Barrel Aged George, the cognac edition. I just wrote "Oh my god! Amazing!"
From Siren Brewing in the UK:
Oi! Zeus! An Imperial Stout with vanilla and chili peppers. This one was amazing. Peppers gave it some heat but it was very nicely balanced.
Experiment 366, a Barleywine using a new hop noted to be "Citra on steroids". Everything perfect in this beer. Great balance.
From Surly Brewing in the US:
Cynic, a 6.5% abv Saison. Columbus and Styrian Goldings. Oats in the grist as well. Very nice beer. Good mouthfeel here, dry finish.
Westbrook Brewing in the US:
Funky Old Time, an 11% abv Black Sour. Amazing. Pretty sour! A lovely lingering grain aftertaste that I adored.
Bearded Farmer Thomas, a Saison with Brett. Lovely. Nice balance. Fruity Brett character with some funk.
Comrade Appleseed, Apple Brandy Barrel Aged Imperial Stout. Complex and tasty with a touch of apple character.
From Xbeeriment in Denmark:
Black Force One XO, a 10.4% abv Bourbon barrel aged Imperial Stout. Very nice. Full of flavor. Rich with some wood and bourbon character.
Bretty Boop, a nice 100% Brett beer. Typical Brett with sharp fruit and funk. Lemony tartness. I love it.
There were a LOT of other great beers and a lot of other interesting beers, but these ones were the tops for me of what I tried.
Another brewer that I think is worth mentioning is Jester King, from Austin, Texas. This brewery uses a lot of Brett in their facility. I didn't try any beers from them that didn't have Brett. They had a lovely Imperial Stout called Black Metal. The brewer said they didn't use Brett in it, but I picked up a touch of Brett there that was quite nice. He said they use so much Brett that it's possible some got in there. Not certain on that, but I *am* certain that it was a great beer.
Other than that, they had a lot of beers that were very interesting. I didn't fully love any of them other than the Imperial Stout, though. They were very strange, very adventurous and very interesting. I emptied my glass on every occasion, but I wouldn't want to drink a full glass of any of them. I would call these beers challenging. They challenge you to try them, they dare you to accept them. I did both, but I didn't really love them. Perhaps they'd grow on me over time if I lived near them and could get their beers regularly.
One of their other beers worth noting was called Salt Lick. This was a Pecan wood smoked Saison with Brett that was also a touch sour. Very interesting, but the smoke dominated a strange mix of flavors and aromas that didn't really work well together. Very interesting indeed, but did they pull it off? I don't really think so but I would try it again to find out. This brewery is worth seeking out even if it's only for their sheer balls on what they're brewing.
|Andrej and I raise a glass of tasty beer at the festival.|
Oh, and two key questions that beer festival attendees might find
The WCs set up at the show were actually okay. They had them outside in a sort of trailer, two sets of them. Inside each trailer was maybe 10 or 15 individual little toilet rooms. They were decently clean and not disgusting and there were enough that the wait was never more than 5 minutes or so even when the festival was at its most crowded.
The food at the show was decent as well. Some interesting fish cakes that were pretty tasty. Towards the entrance was a sausage stand that was pretty good as well. They had 3 or so types of sausages and you could order a mixed set with some sort of garnish, pickles, onions and whatnot. I forget exactly, but we ate many of those. There was other food as well, but not a huge selection. Good enough for me. I had some tasty food there.
We also hit a few local pubs, our favorite of which was Mikkeler and Friends, a new pub on Stefansgade with a bottle shop attached. We hung out there for a long session on Sunday afternoon and evening. Our favorite beer of that session was Mikkeller's 1000 ibu Imperial IPA. It was quite tasty. Strangely, the bitterness was not too much. A very nice beer worth seeking out. The bottle shop is also worth a visit. They have a decent selection of eclectic beers.
Copenhagen, however, is very expensive. So, be aware of this.
This beer festival receives my highest recommendation. If you have the money and time, you should go. It's the best beer festival I've ever attended. If you like adventurous beers, beers with a lot of flavor, brewers taking huge risks, if you want to taste cutting edge beer then this festival is for you.