Beer Cities: Copenhagen

Copenhagen city guide


It may be the home of Carlsberg, but Copenhagen is also one of Europe’s very best beer cities in its own right, with some of the continent’s most iconic, groundbreaking craft innovators, whose open-minded approach and focus on quality brewing should put it at the top of the list for any committed beer pilgrim.

The first thing you’ll probably notice as a visitor is just how seriously Danish craft drinkers (and brewers) take their beer. Sure, there’s a lot of fun involved too, but there’s no room for poor quality here. This stands to reason, as Denmark was arguably the first European country to catch the craft beer bug, and the very best foreign and domestic craft brands have been readily available here for at least the past 20 years.

Because of this, drinking in Copenhagen is probably as close as we’ve come to drinking in the best US craft bars. There’s no monoculture here; sure, if you fancy a pale ale or hazy IPA, you can definitely find that - perfectly brewed and immaculately served - but you can also explore a vast range of other styles, imported or borrowed from every beer traditional and culture on Earth. 

No guide to Copenhagen would be complete without mention of our good friends at Mikkeller, which has become as iconic a part of Danish beer as Carlsberg. Founded in 2005 by former schoolteacher Mikkel Borg Bjersø, Mikkeller is now a worldwide phenomenon, whose beers, bars and running clubs (yep) can be found as far afield as Bangkok, Shanghai and Iceland. 

But Mikkeller is far from the only game in town, of course. In this month’s box, we have the wonderful and ever-surprising To Øl (see page 15). Amager Bryghus, situated on the island of Amager was one of the very early movers in Denmark’s craft revolution, specialising in big, bold and bitter IPAs. Dry & Bitter are longstanding party-companions of the Beer52 team, and producers of sweet, juicy and punchy brews, while relative newcomer Slowburn has made a real splash with its excellently brewed pilsners.

As much as Danes love their local heroes though, they’re also keen to seek out new experiences. That’s why there are more than 50 craft beer bars in Copenhagen, many of which are located in the craft hot-spots of Nørrebro, Vesterbro and the city centre.

BRUS, To Øl’s famous bar and spiritual home is a must-visit, and not just because it’s the birthplace of one of the beers in this month’s box. If you don’t feel like moving, BRUS could easily set you up for the day, with 32 taps (and not a dud among them) an excellent brasserie and even a bottle shop to stock up for home.

Leaving BRUS, you’re not far from Ølbaren, the city’s longest-running craft bar, with a cozy, unpretentious atmosphere, great beer selection and legendary bar staff. Himmeriget is your next stop; a place of craft beer pilgrimage and, once every year, chosen purveyor of the infamous white whale Cantillon Blåbaer Lambic. Oh, and in the same Nørrebro neighbourhood, you’ll also find a neglected little backstreet joint called… Mikkeller & Friends.

Heading on to Vesterbro, you’ll find one of our favourite bars in the world, Warpigs - a brewery, bar and Texan barbecue run by (again) Mikkeller and US superstars Three Floyds. If you’ve not been to Warpigs, your craft beer credibility is automatically cut in half. We’re serious. 

Just around the corner is Fermentoren, a more laid back affair with an eclectic and lovingly curated lineup of brews from around the world, including a comprehensive selection from owners Dry & Bitter. While it’s not strictly a bar, we have to at least give a shout out to Kihoskh, a real Copenhagen institution; this cavernous and tightly packed bottleshop is somewhere you’d willingly get lost, before emerging into the sunshine, to enjoy your purchases alongside the hipsters on Sønder Boulevard.

If you’re only in Copenhagen for the beer though, you’re honestly missing out on half the experience. Rent a bike, find out why it’s consistently voted Europe’s number one cycling city, and explore its many other attractions. Danish food culture, particularly in Copenhagen, has become a major global force in the past couple of decades, and foodies are guaranteed to find themselves wishing they’d extended their stay. There are also plenty of memorable outdoor activities to experience, from the famous Tivoli amusement park to the astonishing Copenhill rooftop ski slope.

For travellers looking to pack as much quality beer, food and culture into their trip as possible - avoiding duds while still being open to surprises - Copenhagen is a truly great beer city.

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