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Beer in Copenhagen

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.

Denmark has a true beer culture
Denmark has a true beer culture


From dark wheat beer to lager

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.

Tray of dark ‘hvidtøl’ beer

Danish specialty beers

Denmark has more than 200 microbreweries and Danish specialty beers are omnipresent in bars today. They are often made with completely natural and regional ingredients. A good place to start is Amager Bryghus beer, which has a full, spicy taste from the fermentation in the bottle. Another treat is the Møgelskår Hyldeknægt from the brewery on the island of Samsø, which has a slight taste of caramel and elderflower. You should also try a bottle of påskeøl (Easter beer) or juleøl (Christmas beer) – they become available a few weeks before the eponymous holidays and mark the beginning of spring and winter for the Danes.
Christmas beer is very popular in Denmark