Sunday, January 6, 2013

Carlsberg brewery tour (Copenhagen, DK)

View of brewhouse from Jacobsen Bar

With a wedding of  Ian's friend on Friday within hours of getting off the plane, Carlsberg was at the top of the list for Saturday.  Getting to the visitor center opened in the morning made the self guided tour very sparse, so easy to see and read at a leisurely pace, even on a Saturday. When we were finishing lunch, the top floor bar and the brand shop on the way out were filling up in the early afternoon.

One reason to consider a weekday tour would be the design of the bar; only glass separates the top floor bar from the first floor bottling line.  As I've noted before, it's rare to see the a bottling line up and running because of the noise, danger and difficulty of having tourists on the floor while running. The Carlsberg brewery solves this problem in elegant fashion. Not a big deal, but it could be fun for those interested in a modern, high speed brewery in operation

Getting to the Carlsberg complex is an easy walk for a nearby metro stop.  However, we walked by the brand shop entrance and retraced our steps from the elephants, which is worth the walk to see anyway.  On the elephant, there is a swastika, which was the symbol of Carlsberg from 1881 until World War II.  According to a sign at the first sampling site, the swastika was originally an Indian symbol that meant "that which is good." How it transformed to the Nazi symbol is beyond my scope to comment, but the symbol showing up, even minimally, in a modern setting was disconcerting.

With the tour entrance fee, two drink tickets are included. A sample of Jacobson Dark Lager based on the original 1854 recipe is offered part way through the tour, which we accepted.  Probably should have shared one since neither of us was impressed by it, and saved a ticket for the final bar.  Drinking the historical recipe in the old brewery does have some appeal, though the samples at the end seemed larger.  Might want to save the ticket, might not, depending on one's dedication to nostalgia or experience with Carlsberg beers.

Overall, Carlsberg is a self guided Danish analogue of the Anhesuer-Busch tour in St. Louis, right down to the horses.  Both are slick, old school beer history of a major lager.  I found visiting Carlsberg to be of interest, but could see the argument that spending time elsewhere, especially if similar tours have been done elsewhere.

One of the differences for me was the final Carlsberg bar, the Jacobsen Brewhouse & Bar. Brilliant, from a capitalistic point of view, to sell more pints than they give in samples.  Relaxed atmosphere was enjoyed by many, including us, that were in no hurry to leave.  For lunch I savored each morsel of the Christmas herring with hard boiled egg, cress, and curry/apple dressing.  Just fabulous and I found that two of my very favorite things--herring and hard boiled eggs--are a perfect match.  I think I have a new dinner at home.

For dessert, Ian and I shared two bottles of the high end Jacobsen line of beers, 75 cl bottles of 2011 Barley Wine and 2012 Single Malt ale. Both were adequate and neither was worth the high price of admission.  But we merrily worked our way through these big bottles while watching Carlsberg and Tuborg commercials projected on the far wall while sitting on bean-bag like floor chairs, comfortably planning, thanks to the free WiFi, our next stop at Malmo Brygghus.

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