When my wife and I lived in Lund, Sweden we visited Copenhagen, Denmark a lot. It was, and still is really
convenient to just jump on the train and zoom over the Øresund Bridge in just 35 minutes. I like Copenhagen. It’s a beautiful city, nice people and there is quite a selection of good beer bars. Denmark went through a beer revolution in the late 1990’s taking Denmark from Carlsberg country to the most interesting beer country in Europe. I also like to go there for the food. Danish traditional food is delicious and has a lot in common with the South Swedish food tradition. South Sweden and Denmark has the best cuisine in northern Europe. I had the opportunity to return to Copenhagen this past weekend after four years absence. I came in on the train from Malmö, Sweden as usual around lunchtime so I went straight to Kanal Caffe, which is one of my favorite lunch restaurants in Copenhagen. I have to explain a little about Danish lunch or frokost as it’s called (which in Swedish means breakfast). At Danish frokost you traditionally have an open face sandwiches, smørrebrø (butter and bread). The bread is usually heavy and dark rye or sour dough with butter or lard. The topping is what makes the smørrebrø. It should be lavishly piled and more than cover the bread. The first smørrebrø (yes, you have multiple of them during frokost) is normally some kind of fish. It can be shrimp, pickled herring or fried fish, fore example plaice. It’s not deep fried like in the south. It’s breaded and fried in a frying pan. Smørrebrø is not just the main topping. You also need to have a bunch of extras to make it even more delicious. With shrimp you often have mayonnaise, a boiled egg and asparagus and lemon. The number two open face sandwich (or number three if you decide to have two with fish, which I would suggest) is with a meat topping. Here there are plenty of varieties. Thick fried pork shops with read cabbage, roast beef with remoulade, spiced meat role with cranberries and jellied heavy broth soup, liver pâté with fried bacon and mushrooms are some of my favorites. At least two meat smørrebrø is recommended. To finish it off you just have to have one with gamel ost, old cheese. The topping is a generously cut peace of Danish cheese, sometimes sprinkled with rom that has been aged for no less than 52 weeks. You should be able to smell a good Danish cheese at least from two blocks away.
Many of the smørrebrø have different names, often after the creator. The “Vet’s Night Snack” (Dyrlegens Natmad) have a topping with liver paté, salty beef, onion rings and consommé aspic. Ritt Bjeregaard, the former mayor of Copenhagen have one named after her and it includes a sliced of smoked leg of lamb, scrambled eggs, parsley and chive.
Let’s get to the beer. This is after all a beer blog. I read in a Danish newspaper that beer is loosing to wine. Traditional Danish lunch is beer food. Wine does not at all go with pickled herring for example. The best beer for this kind of food is a lager or a pils with plenty of hops to match the heavy food. Many of the traditional lunch restaurants only serve Carlsberg products. Many of the small and new craft breweries have beers that would enhance the flavor of the food more than Carlsberg beers. But Kanal Café only serves Carlsberg, which is not to bad after all.
There once was a small British bookstore in Copenhagen owned by Charlie. The bookstore was also the meeting spot for British expats. They used to meet in the back of the store and share a pint British beer. The demand for British books was not high enough so the bookstore soon closed down. In the crowed that used to meet in the bookstore was an entrepreneur that decided that Copenhagen needed a British pub so he open one a the very same place where the bookstore used to be. Now they have a really great pub that is named after the bookstore owner, Charlie’s Pub. The pub has a great authentic British atmosphere and they serve a perfect pint of cask ale every time. Their passion for cask ale has honed them with a Cask Marque. Charlie’s is just a hole-in-the-wall. It’s not the place to go if you want Danish beer. But it’s the the place to go if you want good British beer and German beer. They had two really good lager beer from the small German breweries Schlossbrauerei Stein and St Georgen Bräu.
There are plenty of beer bars in Copenhagen where you can have a Danish beer. Lord Nelson is just of the main shopping street in Copenhagen and they only serve Danish beers. The city also has a few brewpubs. One of them is The Brew Pub. They serve a good porter named Cole Porter that is brewed with 7 malts. It’s on the lighter side of porters but still a good porter. If you want something with more flavors you can go to Mikkeller Bar. They of course serve beer from their own brewery, Mikeller and in addition to those beers, beers from other good breweries. I started with their American Dream that is a lager packed with hops. I have said this before. I’m tired of the over-hoped beers. This is one of them, too much hops and lack of balance. My next beer of choice was a beer from the Norwegian brewery Nøgne Ø, Frank’s Sour Black. This beer I just couldn’t finish. I like sour beer and I like black beer but a combination of the two, no thanks. The sour flavor and the roasted nutty flavors just don’t go together. Going down the list looking for my next beer I realized that they had a sour beer theme that weekend so my next choice was a beer from a local brewery named Amager Brewhouse. Their Sour Amar is very perfume, slightly hoppy beer. It’s OK for a sour beer outside of Belgium. The theme weekend also included a few sour beers from some great Belgium breweries like Girardine, Frank Boon and Cantillon.
On my way to the train station I made a quick stop at Bryggeriet Appollo. This brewpub is a part of chain and has
been around for many years. I don’t like the atmosphere there. There are to many tourists (and I don’t consider me as one of them) and the staff is uninspired but I try to stop by there because they always have a beer of the month. The beer of the month is usually interesting and this month it was a fresh and tasty chestnut beer. The Brewery recently opened the first brewpub on Greenland in the capitol Nuuk.
Before taking the train back to Malmö I just had to have a Danish hotdog (pølse) from a hot dog trailer for dinner. I visit to Copenhagen wouldn’t be complete without it.