Copenhagen Beer Celebration 2014

Photo: Rob Love
Photo: Rob Love

The third edition of Copenhagen Beer Celebration was held by Mikkeller this weekend in Spartahallen in Copenhagen. Like last year, it was divided into sessions with unlimited beer for a limited time. Each of the 40 breweries then had two different beers per session, which added up to more than enough beer per session. We only went to the first session, Friday from 10am to 2:30pm, the only session that was still available when we bought them, just a few hours after the ticket sale opened, back in November 2013.

It’s quite an overwhelming event, with so many great breweries serving so many great beers, and I’m sure I couldn’t handle much more than one  session, but at least this year we also took out time to visit the exciting food stands and get something to eat. I didn’t try all the 80 beers, didn’t even try to have all the ones that were new to me, but I did have everything I wanted. Here are some Copenhagen Beer Celebration highlights:

The world famous Dark Lord in a special bourbon barrel/vanilla beans edition and was bound to get sold out, so it was our first visit, just to make sure. It’s not my favourite beer or anywhere close, but of course I’m interested in trying such a sought after beer, and this version was on the same level as the original, no better, no worse. A thick and sticky and cloying sweet chocolate and licorice bomb, with some added notes of vanilla beans and bourbon. Three Floyds make the best pale ales in the world, but there are so many better stouts out there.

My second stop was the one I was personally looking forward to the most. Green Flash is one of my favourite brewers of hoppy beers and they have a double IPA so hoppy that they call it Palate Wrecker. I have tasted it just once, served as cask ale at the Great British Beer Festival, which isn’t ideal for a double IPA. Served fresh from keg, it was mind blowing. The aroma was like sticking your face into a big bag of fresh hops with all kinds of citrus and pine notes. As a 9.5% beer, the flavour is rather sweet, tasting like a resiny hop juice, and finishing in an intense and long lasting bitter, hoppy aftertaste. Green Flash’s other beer at the early Friday session was the really tasty barrel aged stout Silva Stout, which I scored as high as the Palate Wrecker, making Green Flash my top brewery of the day beyond any doubt.

Photo by Rob Love
Photo by Rob Love

Firestone Walker had another 9.5% double IPA, the Double Jack, but their brewing style is usually much different from that of Green Flash. It’s an English inspired brewery known for layers of malt character that most American breweries should be very jealous of, but Double Jack is definitely a beer focused on the hops. Citrus hops dominate, with orange in the front, and a touch of lime. The flavour is relatively dry, with hops up front, but also some malty notes of bread crust. It’s very bitter, but in a non-aggressive way.

Big stouts dominated the place, with or without barrel treatment, spices and coffee,  and many of them very good, including beers from Evil Twin, Siren, Magic Rock, Westbrook and Prairie, but a few soured beers also impressed me. From Denmark, To Øl Yeastus Christ Supersour was a masterpiece of a soured saison, with a really tart flavour full of grapefruit juice and funk. Crooked Stave Vieille Artisanal is an aged saison with a little funk and sourness added to the crisp fruity flavour with pineapple and lemon peel character. A summer beer that I would love to have more of.

Jester King La Vie en Rose is a saison aged with raspberries, a beer that takes the second extraction from raspberries already used for one beer. It was dry and tart, with quite prominent raspberries on top of caramel notes.

Amager Greed Gone Red was perhaps the most unusual beer of the day. The classic German pilsner Greed has been aged  in a red wine barrel, adding faint fruity notes and some vanilla to a crisp, refreshing beer. It was awesome because the base beer is awesome, and probably didn’t gain much from the barrel aging. But fun to be able to tick the box for having tried a red wine barrel aged pilsner.

 

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