The latest issue of Olentusiasten (the magazine of the Danish beer consumers' organisation Danske Olentusiasten) arrived last week. Ninety two pages of full colour. It makes most other EBCU members' organs look like Sniffin' Glue (apologies for the punk reference that only people born between 1955 and 1962 will understand). It's a sign of how quickly the beer scene has developed in Denmark.
In the late 1990´s, there was very little decent beer, with the exception of a few locally-brewed porters. Mostly your choice was limited to Carlsberg or Tuborg pils.
The turning point came in 1998 with the foundation of Danske Ølentusiaster , Denmark´s beer consumers´organisation. Their success in attracting members and educating the public is an example to campaigners everywhere. Specialist beer bars began to appear: Charlie´s, Gulliver´s, Tatoverede Enke. At first they concentrated on imported British, Belgian or German beer. Not surprising, as there was very little Danish beer worth bothering with. But with consumer demand and retail outlets established, microbreweries followed. A trickle of good beer turned into a flood.
In 2000, there were a mere 18 breweries, of which around half were controlled by Carlsberg or Royal Unibrew. In the last 7 years these have been joined by 80 new micronbreweries and brewpubs, leaving Denmark with an impressive 92 breweries (if you're wondering about my arithmetic, some breweries have closed in the intervening years) for its 5 million people. That's the equivalent of 5,500 breweries in the USA. Another 50 breweries are in the planning stage and there are 11 "breweries" who get their beer brewed elsewhere.
Here in Amsterdam, de Bierkoning has finally started stocking Scandinavian beers. I filled my bags (did I ever tell you about my special beer-carrying bags? No? Don't worry, one day when I'm desperate for material I'll tell you all about them) with Stout and Porter on Saturday. I'm drinking a Nils Oscar Imperial Stout right now. Very nice. I know, it's Swedish, not Danish. I'm saving the Olfabrikken for tomorrow.
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