If you lived in Copenhagen ten years ago, you wouldn’t have much local craft beer to choose from. At least not something worth the money judged by today’s standards. There was no Amager Bryghus and there was certainly no Mikkeller. The former is a brewery located in the Amager part of Copenhagen (that’s where most people arrive if they’re flying here), and it’s also considered one of the best breweries by most of the local beer geeks. The latter is a gypsy brewer equally respected amongst the locals.
But Mikkeller has done something Amager hasn’t. Besides opening bars all over the world, including Reykjavik, San Francisco, and Seoul with more coming in Barcelona, LA and more locally, Aarhus, they’ve also started their own festival for equally geeky beer freaks (as Mikkeller usually calls them) called Copenhagen Beer Celebration - not to be confused with the Copenhagen Beer Festival.
Although Mikkeller used to have their stand along with almost every other Danish brewer at the festival, he quickly outgrew it and started his own, with the first iteration taking place in 2012. Fast learners would quickly note that this was something else. Something like this wasn’t previously seen on Danish soil. Mikkeller had invited some of their best brewer friends from all over the world and the final lineup included BrewDog (Scotland), Three Floyds (USA), De Molen (Netherlands), De Struise (Belgium) and Stillwater (USA) among others. It would be a great lineup today, but back then it was simply amazing. Never before had Denmark tasted so many of the world’s best breweries in the same place.
The second year of CBC was the first one that I was able to attend. Just as others were so blown away the previous year, so was I at number two! I was amazed by the high standards, but as I wasn’t too geeky yet, I was mostly blown away by getting Dark Lord (Three Floyds, USA), a stout that knocked my socks off and continues to have a spot in my beery heart for that reason.
The lineup had increased to hold 28 breweries from across the world. New and powerful additions were mostly from the USA with Surly, Westbrook, Firestone Walker, Cigar City and Against the Grain. Amager Brewery also found their way to what I would later call Denmark’s biggest beer festival!
The third year, the growth was even bigger. They were up to 40 breweries present at the festival. Evil Twin returned after being gone the previous year. British breweries were larger in numbers and I remember Buxton and The Kernel made their way to my tastebuds, and I haven’t been able to forget them since! Newcomers on the American front were equally interesting; Kuhnhenn, Prairie and Off Color made the greatest impressions on me.
Off Color was also where I spent most of my time during that year’s event, mainly because I had my first volunteer gig at the festival with them. I thoroughly enjoyed it and decided volunteering was the way to go in the following years as well. Didn’t make things worse that Off Color had some really good beers, and were the only brewery with a Pilsner.
But when you grow this much, at some point you start to need more space. This was an issue in 2014 and would feel even worse the year after. This could also explain why the other Mikkeller properties had event going on every day of the week leading up to CBC. Mikropolis, Mikkeller Bar, Mikkeller & Friends and of course, the new darling Warpigs all had tap takeovers, beer releases or even concerts going on in what would be named Copenhagen Beer Week.
Luckily the amount of brewers didn’t increase in 2015 and I spent a lot of the time on my own, just strolling from brewer to brewer. For the first time I hadn’t made a wishlist, which made a significant decrease in my stress levels, and I can highly recommend this approach. At a festival like this, whales are everywhere. The days of Dark Lord having no competition are over. The quality is so high no matter what brewery you visit!
My favourite brewery this year was Omnipollo, which was voted “Sweden’s Best” on Ratebeer that same year. A well deserved title, and it didn’t come as a surprise to me since they made two of my top five beers for 2015 (Noa and #90,000).
And that leads us to now. Tickets for 2016 go on sale October 15, 2015 at 10 PM CET. Last year they sold out in minutes. If you want to participate in the madness, you should stay put at the computer, kiss your favourite beer gods and hope for the best. If you make it, come say hi! If you don’t, you should come for all the other events going on around town. It will most definitely be quite the party, like it has been throughout its history.
And don’t worry, they found a bigger location this year. Whether or not that means more breweries, I don’t know yet! But I’m sure my favourite danish brewery from Amager will be there again!
About the author:
Kasper Wendelboe (Denmark)
I've been falling down the rabbit hole since late 2011, when I started my first beer blog. It was mostly for fun and documentation, but it seems like I keep falling deeper in. After taking a part time bar job in Malmö, Sweden, I quickly became a full time employee and I now work as a beertender at Banksia in Copenhagen, where I also live with my American wife.
My taste in beer is diverse, whether it's hoppy, dark, barrel aged, sour, funky or old. I drink as I travel; with a passion! I started “Traveling Cicerone” to share my travels in the name of beer, while also trying to study for the Certified Cicerone title.