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Beer has a 5000-year history in Denmark and is therefore closely tied up with Danish culture and history. The Vikings were crazy about it: they drank practically nothing but light beer, which was healthier than water at the time. Beer brewing continues to flourish in Denmark today and the average Dane drinks 80 litres a year.
During lunch, after work and in the company of friends, the Danes love their beer. Go for a ‘store øl’ – a half-litre glass – or take a more subtle approach with a ‘lille’; Danish beer is served in all sizes. The most renowned breweries are Carlsberg and Tuborg, which are famous abroad as well as within the country. But don’t hesitate to try a lesser-known specialty beer from the local microbreweries – also very tasty.
The first brewers’ guild in Copenhagen was established in 1525. It consisted of a few local brewers who supplied both the people and the king and his army with their products. This was quite a job as the daily ration was some 10 litres per person. The traditional drink – and until the late 19th century, the only drink – was hvidtøl. While this means ‘white beer’, it actually is fairly dark due to the roasted malt.
In 1838, J.C. Jacobsen presented a Bavarian beer to the Danish king. This was brewed according to a modern process, had a finer finish and could be preserved longer. It was a success and led to the establishment of the Carlsberg brewery just outside Copenhagen in 1847. A few years later, Tuborg began the large-scale production of lager and this pale beer type is currently the most popular in Denmark.