On so many levels, the Copenhagen Beer Celebration blew our minds. From the impressive collection of breweries, brewers and their ridiculously good beers to the cracking venue (a gym next to the home stadium forØsterbro Football Club) which resembled an aircraft hangar and the smooth organisation of the whole festival, to be fair ‘epic’ doesn’t even come close. Volunteering for beer was the deal, in a nutshell. Seemed to us a better reason than most to head on outta London.
We upped sticks from Gatwick Thursday night and made our way through Copenhagen’s efficient transport system to our Air BnB, conveniently just around the corner from the festival. After a decent sleep and a sunny morning stroll around Copenhagen we arrived at the venue, were briefed & got into the swing of things as the punters flowed through Mikkeller’s doors.
Duties were split between Brewers, Cloakroom, MAD Beer, Merch & Info, Water & the Door. For me, the best of these was helping out the brewers – basically making sure they were all good and to give them some respite when needed. The girls got straight into it, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Magic Rock and MAD Beer while the lads pumped taps for Three Floyds.
Three Floyds were clear festival favourites with fervent queues on both days from the moment the floodgates opened until their supplies ran dry. I chilled in the cloakroom sorting bags & jackets while chatting with Desiree, a lovely Spaniard studying Brewing Science in Copenhagen. Somehow a beer magically appeared in front of me, and my festival had begun.
What was my first beer? Well, Isa (another volunteer) who brought it to me said “It’s from somewhere over there” gesturing with her outstretched finger. Turned out it was Cycle Brewery/Peg’s Cantina Rum Barrel Aged Imperial Sweet Stout with Vanilla Beans. A pretty hefty mouthful in name and in nature (10%) to kick off my festival, but when seeing some of the abvs on the various brews, something told me that ‘hefty’ was a relative word at CBC. De Molen had a 17% Eisbock aged in oak while Mikkeller had their own Black Ink & Blood, an 18% Imperial Stout.
The close & clean-up of the first day brought with it ‘just a bit of remaining beer‘ – which meant two full 30L kegs of Mikkeller Pale. Not sure which one, but who cared? It went down a treat!
Saturday we had the early session from 9-3.30. Working on merchandise, & my first beer of the day actually turned out to be my ‘beer of the festival’: Don Gavino’s Big Guava from Cigar City, a refreshing 10% Chardonnay barrel-aged ale brewed with guava. I enjoyed it while making it my goal to peddle as many wares as I could whilst the rest of the team got cracking on the MAD Beer stall.
Mad is ‘food’ in Danish, and MAD Beer is the new collaboration between Mikkel Borg Bjergsø (Mr Mikkeller) and renowned chef Jakob Mielcke, aiming to combine the best of both beer and food worlds. They brew five different beers and a few specialty ones, demonstrating the different tastes your palate can detect: Sweet, Sour, Salty, Bitter and Umami. Umami is only a recent addition to the other four, and is like a brothy, meaty or savoury taste. The food they were pairing their beers included both the usual (mini-sliders) and the less-usual (pigeon feet). Meanwhile the food available at CBC was to die for. Pork belly burgers from Casual Street Foodand killer sausages from John’s Hotdog Deli.
Reason to go back & do it right? Damn straight it is. Can’t WAIT!