Rock on Beer Goes Back to School
A friend of mine approached me recently about doing a beer tasting for his master's in tourism class at the University of Southern Denmark in Kolding. He said the students are turning to the horrors of harboe pilsner and thinking that tuborg julebryg is good Danish Christmas beer. Well I couldn't let that stand!
In all seriousness I was really excited at the prospect of doing a tasting for foreign students. I think beer is an important part of Danish culture and a way to introduce people to some smaller Danish breweries they would have a hard time finding on their own. Also, who better to introduce people to Danish craft beer and culture then an American?
We started off with a little presentation on Danish beer history and then straight into my hand picked six course tasting tour of Danish craft beer.
Here is the beer list and a little about my reasoning:
1. Hancock Høker Bajer- A traditional bohemian style lager, and I think a great example of a beer brewed by a traditional Danish brewery.
2. Amager/Three Floyds Arctic Sunstone- Now I know this is a collaboration with an American brewery, but I wanted a pale ale and this is arguably one of the best out right now. It was also cool to bring up the way the US has influenced Danish craft beer.
3. Mikkeller Hoppy Lovin Christmas-Wanted to crank up the hops and deliver a nice end point to the lightly colored beers. This was also a good place to introduce Mikkleller to the students and explain both gypsy brewing and the more extreme side of brewing. (pine needles and ginger!?!?)
4. Midtfyns Jule Stout- To keep the Christmas spirit going and kick off the dark side of the tasting. Everyone got brunekager (gingerbread) and pebernødder (spicy round christmas cookies) to accompany this fennel and star anise spiced stout. I thought it was more a traditional flavored Danish Christmas beer then the more prevalent IPAs from this season. This was one of the tastings favorite beers.
5. To Øl Black Malts & Body Salts- Chose this beer to throw a curve ball at the tasters. I was fairly certain they had all tried the previous styles at some point or other, but a black IPA, probably not. Reviews were mixed on this one. I think it was very polarizing to wether people liked the coffee and fruity hops taste, or thought it was just a bit too much. Was fun to get reactions and introduce one of the styles most people are not aware of.
6. Ugly Duck Imperial Vanilla Coffee Porter- I chose this one as the final beer because it was the strongest and heaviest of the beers. I also think it is a good example of a "flavored" dark beer that is accessible for none beer geeks. The coffee drinkers really dug this one.
After my tasting we took a short walk from the University to YNWA beer shop. Here we packed their cozy little shop to the rafters with eager tasters. They were nice enough to offer us a welcomes drink, the Italian brewed ReAle Extra from Birra del Borgo. It was a nice treat for the Italians in the group and a hoppy little palate cleanser to prepare us for the darkness ahead. The first beer they provided us a taste of was Overhovedet (the godfather) from Syndikatet. This was a strong french ale aged on oak, and was very different to anything we had tried up to that point. Next up Kolding Bryglaug: Vinter stout, an imperial stout with cocoa nibs and honey roasted peanuts. this was particularly cool because they had helped to brew it. We ended with another imperial stout, Frederik III from Frederiksodde in nearby Vejle. After that everyone got a chance to look around the shop and pick up some great craft beer to enjoy later. Best yet not one bottle was harmed even with our massive numbers.
Our next stop was a true Danish student bar, Knud's Garage. Here we got a reserved table and a bottle each of Ugly Duck's Hoppy Christmas. The atmosphere was smokey and relaxed, a bar full of people enjoying their friday night. We got a little more entertainment then bargained for when a random stranger decided to hop up on our table and do a little striptease. Once he realized nobody was that impressed/didn't have any dollar bills he got down and decided to try some conversation instead. I am glad everyone got a nice dose of random drunken happenings in a Danish bar, something I have countless memories of from my time here.
Our final stop of the evening was at the English pub and well known Kolding beer bar, You'll Never Walk Alone. The bar was packed out the door, thankfully we had a reserved table and had spent enough time together for the intimate squeeze of fitting 12 people into a corner table. Everyone was able to order one last pint from the bar for the tasting. This is where they got to put what they learned previously to use. Many pale ales, especially the new Den Gule Aquarium from Humleland, were ordered. Was glad to see so many people grabbing a hoppy beer. I bid everyone farewell at this point, as I have a rule about getting to drunk in places not within walking distance of my house (bad experiences in the past).
So my first time hosting a tasting. How was it? It was better then I could have possibly imagined. I won't lie and say I was not a little nervous. I had only been part of a few tastings, and those were with other beer nerds. So being the host, for a dozen other people, who didn't know anything about Danish craft beer! That was a little nerve wracking. Nervousness disappeared almost immediately as everyone seemed really excited to be there and were attentive and seemed to enjoy themselves overall. I can say I certainly enjoyed the experience. It was everything I love about beer, meeting interesting people, tasting great beer, and spreading the love. Hope I can do similar tastings in the future and spread the Danish beer gospel a little further. Until then a special Skål and thanks to the participants on the tour, and to YNWA beer shop, Knud's Garage, and You'll Never Walk Alone!
Even more thanks goes to Midtfyns Bryghus, for the Jule Stout, and to Thanks to Mads Nørgaard and Vinoble Dalumvej, Odense for the help picking out the beers, and of course Réne Gubi for rounding up the test subjects...err tasters and co-hosting and his lovely girlfriend Susanne for bringing the snacks.