Better Together: Amager and Surly Brewday
I got the privilege of attending one of Amager's collaboration brews. They invite American brewers in the days leading up to Copenhagen Beer Celebration to do a co-branded beer with them. These beers are usually pretty cool, often experimental, and always fun examples of two cool breweries having some fun. I chose to visit on the brewday with Surly brewing from Minnesota, a personal favorite of mine, as well as being a close neighbor to where I grew up. So on April 30th I took an early train ride to Tårnby, home of Amager, with fellow Odense beer blogger Martin from Stovt. We arrived at Amager just after they had finished mashing in and just in time for a little breakfast and coffee.
I met Todd Haug, Surly's head brewer, and Linda, his wife who also happens to be director of restaurant operations for Surly. All three of us being midwesterners, our conversation immediately started out with the weather, it's still cold over there and we established that I have become a pussy having spent too many mild winters in Denmark. Right around this point it was announced that the wort had started to transfer from the lauter to the boil kettle, which meant it was time for some hops. Now they were talking! I believe the joke was made how many brewers, bloggers, and photographers does it take to add a bucket of hops to a beer? Whoever made that joke was quite right, as it was a sight to see so many people crowded around a brewing system to see hop history in the making.
The beer itself is a 100% Golden Promise IPA. They chose Golden Promise as it is used in several Surly beers, but Amager has never worked with it before. The beer will be called Todd: The Axeman, a tribute to Todd's guitar skills rather then his prowess with the chopping implement. It's going to get a smooth bitterness from Amager's house bittering hop Hercules. From there it is going to be an exploration of tropical herbal hoppiness from the very unique tasting Mosaic and Citra hops.
It was nice discussing American and Danish beer culture with Todd and Linda. I got to discuss some brewing with Todd and hear his reasoning behind their ale strain choice, a dry English strain rather then the omnipresent Cali Ale. While talking about centrifuges and clarifying agents I also learned that there is apparently a stereotype about Michigan beer drinkers not really caring much about the clarity of their beer as much as drinkers in Minnesota. I never thought about Michiganders liking cloudy beer. I guess we all operate on that Larry Bell quote "If god wanted us to filter our beer he wouldn't have given us livers". Not that Surly filters of course, it was just interesting to hear about having to concentrate so much on clarity in their market. I also got to hear a bit about Surly's big expansion. I was particularly drooling over hearing about the automated brewing system complete with robo hop droppers!
Linda and I talked beer marketing and the difference between the US and Denmark. I was really happy to hear that she had a lot of the same opinions as me on session beers being the next big movement and how it will be challenging to market them. It was really cool to hear insights from someone who is so involved with the marketing of such a highly respected and fast growing craft brewery. Since I have both a marketing and brewing background I was really on cloud nine getting to talk about them both.
For lunch Amager wheeled out the Weber and cooked up an entire cow worth of burgers for all the attendees. The sun was shining outside and everyone had a cold glass of beer and a big homemade burger. Something about the beautiful weather, the perfectly grilled burgers, and not least of all the endless supply of Amager beer on tap, really made it stand out as a perfect moment.
As the day wound down and the wort began to cool, everyone relaxed with some bottles of Amager's new BA beers (coming soon to a review site near you). The day was at an end and it was time to bid farewell to everyone at the brewery and head home. On the train my head was buzzing and not just from the copious amounts of beer, but from the feeling of a day spent meeting cool people and discussing something I love.
Todd the Axe Man will be released along with three other collaboration brews on July 4th at Amager Bryghus's annual "American Day". Be sure to follow Amager Bryghus on facebook for the latest info.