Must Do in Copenhagen
- Mikkeller Baghaven
- Boat tour
- Louisiana Museum of Modern Art
- Renting a bike
“This is such a fucking cool city!” I found myself exclaiming on a nearly hourly basis during my week-long trip to Copenhagen. The largest city and capital of Denmark offers a little bit of everything that I love: 700+ years of history, cool architecture, beautiful parks, a world class culinary scene, efficient public transportation, an extensive and welcoming network of bike paths, drinking in public, and beer. Oh so much delicious beer! As these things tend to go, beer was the initial impetus for my visit to Copenhagen. The Mikkeller Beer Celebration Copenhagen (MBCC) is one of the best beer festivals in the world, and I was determined to attend it. I started developing a travel plan with my good buddy, and I was obligated to bring along my girlfriend as the third wheel (I kid, I kid… kinda).
It so happens that we were flying out on May 5. For you uncultured folk, that’s Cinco de Mayo or Cinco de Drinko as truly classy people such as myself call it. Even though our flight was at 6 AM, that wouldn’t deter us from tequila shots and a Corona.
With that out of the way, we happened to have a 7-hour layover at Newark which naturally meant we had 3+ hours to spend at Other Half Brewing in Brooklyn. What better way to start a vacation predicated on a beer festival than indulge in some amazing beer?! Other Half is pumping out some incredible New England style IPAs, and I fully took advantage of their vast selection of draft beer on my way to getting loaded for the transatlantic leg of our journey. Just listen to the names of these beers and begin salivating: Double Dry Hopped Double Mosaic Daydream, All Royal Everything, Spicy Meatball, Triple Mosaic Daydream, Double Dry Hopped Mylar Bags, Oh… Dream, and Double Dry Hopped Cheddar. The Triple Mosaic Daydream was one of the best IPAs I’ve ever had. It’s almost unbelievable that 10.5% can be hidden behind smooth tropical juices and a pillowy mouthfeel. Because it’s Other Half and they’re super hip, I had to try Droppin’ Millibars, a 12% Imperial Stout brewed with toasted cacao nibs, vanilla, Ceylon cinnamon, and coffee. Bonkers beer that works very well. We had some local New York friends meet up with us for our short visit, making it that much better. After many beers, we were thankfully able to make it back to the airport in time to catch our flight.
Despite some flying inconveniences (I vow to never fly SAS again), we arrived into Copenhagen early Sunday morning. Being Europe and a Sunday, the streets were eerily quiet as we roamed around for a while waiting to drop off our bags in the Airbnb. We had another college buddy living in Zurich join us in Copenhagen. After freshening up, we went to grab lunch at Torvehallerne, a large market located close to our place. The market had a little bit of everything: deli, fresh seafood, flowers, coffee shops, various food stalls, wine bars, and the Mikkeller & Friends Bottle Shop where I picked up Amazing Haze from Stigbergets, a very good Swedish microbrewery. The haze was close to amazing and marked my first beer drank in Denmark. Skål as the locals would say! To pair with my beer I’d order three very good tacos from Hija de Sanchez, a taqueria started by an American from Chicago. While the tacos were certainly appetizing, their price… not so much. Six American George Washingtons for one smallish taco. It was at this point that I fully realized that Copenhagen (and Scandinavia in general) are very expensive. I knew this going into the trip, but there’s nothing like paying $30 for five tacos to drive home the point. At my favorite taco truck in Houston (Tierra Caliente btw), five tacos sets you back $10. With that out of the way, I promise that’s the last time I’ll bitch about how expensive Copenhagen was.
Up next on our very loose agenda was a boat tour of the city. Copenhagen is surrounded by water and crisscrossed by canals and waterways, so a boat tour allows you to see much of the city and its historical sights. The tour started and ended at Nyhavn, home to the picturesque colorful row of houses you’ve undoubtedly seen. As drinking in public is an acceptable thing in the city, drinking on the boat is also permissible. I recommend anyone visiting Copenhagen to do the boat tour as an introduction to the city. You get to see most of the major parts of the city and orient yourself with the sights.
Afternoon time was beer time, so we headed towards the WarPigs Brewpub, a BBQ restaurant / brewery collaboration between Mikkeller and 3 Floyds. I did not order food and only had a bite of Danielle’s, so I cannot attest to its quality. The beer was of expected high quality. I stuck with a hoppy ensemble with Lazurite IPA, Double Mads Hands Pale Ale, and and Big Drunk Baby DIPA. In my typical fashion, I would rank the beers in terms of how big they were resulting in Big Drunk Baby being my favorite.
Some further walking took us to Fermentoren, a beer bar with a nice outdoor patio. We were blessed with amazing weather throughout our trip which is not typical of Scandinavia. The locals are especially grateful for nice weather, and most people take advantage of it by spending time outdoors and soaking up as much sun as possible. I was not yet ready to get off the hop train, so my first beer was Gamma Brewing Fractal, a nice hazy NEIPA from a Danish brewery. I jumped off the train in a big way with Amundsen Marshmallow Psycho Cognac BA Imperial Stout. This 12.3% bad boy drank exactly as described with luscious marshmallow pairing with boozy and smooth cognac barrel aging. Some more walking around brought us to dinner time where ramen was calling our name. Slurp was our delicious brothy ticket, and I vigorously devoured shoyu ramen while sipping on a To Øl Cloud 9 Wit. Our group had beaten jetlag for the day, and a long night’s sleep would help ensure it stayed that way.
Monday morning brought a strong hunger, and the nearby Sidecar looked as good a place as any for some satisfying breakfast. I opted for the poke and was very happy with my order, and everyone else seemed to love their beautifully plated dishes. The Tail of a Whale from Brutal Brewing rounded out my meal.
With proper nourishment to begin the day, we set off on a sightseeing adventure. We mostly wandered and checked out the beautiful city, but we did have Church of our Saviour as a firm destination. This 17th century structure features a very unique spire with external steps that offer phenomenal views of the city.
As one does when they’ve been walking around, I was beginning to get a little thirsty. The church is near the hippy commune of Christiania, and we stopped by the community coffee shop Abegrotten for refreshments. We took our time in enjoying the beautiful weather and lovely outdoor patio, and we read up on the peculiar history of Christiana. Originally a military base, it had been squatted on by a group of self-proclaimed autonomous anarchists in 1971, and they eventually bought the land in recent years. Nowadays it’s a self-sustaining community of 800-1,000 people. We walked through the land and witnessed the very large weed market operated by its citizens. To the best of my understanding, marijuana is a gray area in Copenhagen, but the open market made it quite black and white that weed was being openly sold to anyone with enough cash to buy it. We made the leisurely stroll through their land on our way to Mikkeller Baghaven, a sour brewery located on the water with great views of the city. I tasted a couple of their beers, and my favorite was Stevnsbær, a wild ale aged on cherries. Mikkeller was making some great sour beer at this industrial location, and there was a large outdoor area in which to enjoy the beer, great weather, and awesome view.
To get back to the heart of the city, we took a boat ferry, which is cool as hell. Riding on boats is never not fun (unless you were on the Titanic), and doing so as a form of transportation is that much better. Danielle had been craving dumplings, so we grabbed a snack at GAO Dumpling Bar on the ground floor of our Airbnb’s building. After a breather back at our place, we went to BRUS, a brewpub started by To Øl and Mikropolis bar, itself a spin-off of Mikkeller. At this bar, restaurant, and brewery, I sampled a couple IPAs, my favorites being the hazy Pale Ale Tricerahops, the 9.6% tropical TIPA Quadrosaurus Rex, and Shock Series: B!PA Citra and Simcoe, an excellent Black IPA. To mix things up, I finished with Vanilla: In Case of Emergency, a 10.8% Imperial Stout loaded to the brim with vanilla.
Dinner was 50 feet away at Bæst where we would indulge on contemporary Italian food including a burrata salad, charcuterie, and delicious wood oven pizzas. Wine and cocktails were the drinks of choice. After eating, we sauntered over to Mikkeller & Friends which is connected to Koelschip, both of which are naturally Mikkeller bars. Thirstin More from WarPigs was a nice hazy Pale Ale, and Capenhagen was a lovely NEIPA collab between Devil’s Peak and Mikkeller. The latter is the only South African beer I can remember ever trying. Seeing Peche N’ Brett from Logsdon on the draft menu, I had to treat myself to that fruity sour delight. Refshale Island Fever was my dry hopped sour nightcap, and it was an excellent end to an adventurous day.
On Tuesday we rented a car and drove to Sweden to spend a day and night with some of Danielle’s family. I’ll include this tale when I get around to writing about our time in Stockholm as A) I want the Sweden experiences to be wrote about together and B) we spent a lot of time in Copenhagen and this article is already getting long.
On our drive back to Denmark, we took a drive-on boat ferry to cross the international waters. Another boat! While traversing the straight between the two countries, we were able to leave our car and naturally get a beverage aboard the ship. I had a local craft lager from Helsingborgs Bryggeri. I also had my sunglasses blown off my face by the gale force winds at the bow of the ship. Very eventful 20 minute boat ride.
Having made it back to Denmark, we explored the charming coastal town of Helsingør. This town is home to Kronborg, the castle on which Hamlet’s Elsinore is based. We toured the grounds which were quite extensive and offered some beautiful views of the surrounding waters. I wasn’t going to pass up a chance to take a picture of beer with a freakin’ castle in the background, so that is exactly what I did.
After our tour, we went next door to Elsinore Street Food where I ate some solid fish n’ chips. There were lots of food options available, and all three of us were satisfied with our meals. Continuing our drive towards Copenhagen, we stopped at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. Stunning only begins to describe the museum. The building itself is amazing as it blends seamlessly into the landscape and sits atop a cliff overlooking the water below. The art collection meanders through various hallways and continues outdoors where sculptures roam about the property. There is even a tranquil garden and pond on the grounds complete with a slide that traverses down a hillside. I gleefully let out my inner kid and rode down the slide. WHEEEEEEEE!!!!! The museum is only a 35 minute drive or 45 minute train ride from Copenhagen, and I highly recommend anyone appreciative of art to give it a visit. There is also a nice cafe serving full meals at the museum, so you could easily make a half-day trip out of going there.
Once back in Copenhagen, we dropped off the rental car and made our way once again to War Pigs. The environment and tap list was just too good to avoid it. Because of MBCC, there were tons of brewery tap takeovers throughout the city, and War Pigs was having a Bottle Logic event. After trying an Excuse Me While I Kiss This Guy IPA collaboration between Mikkeller and China’s Great Leap Brewing, I tasted a Double Actuator DIPA from Bottle Logic and then indulged in a decadent 14.3% Moura Encantada Comb Imperial Porter full of bourbon and booze and chocolate and cherry flavors. A dessert-like German Chocolate Cake was also had, but it was not my favorite of the bunch. The next Mikkeller associated bar to visit was Mikkeller Viktoriagade, and they boasted ~20 taps plus a well curated bottle selection. Modern Times was having a tap takeover, and that’s exactly what I would be drinking. Monsters Park Aged In Bourbon Barrels W/ Cinnamon, Cocoa Nibs, Coconut & Piloncillo (say that 5 times fast) was a monster of a brew and somehow remained coherent with its myriad ingredients. Two excellent NEIPAs were also on the menu: Masks of Power was very hazy and tropical juicy while Dual Monarchy was full of citrus and described as “a tropical vacation for your mouth.” As a fitting end to the night, I ordered the Beer Geek Vanilla Shake. Mikkeller sure knows how to end a night well.
Thursday morning I would take my beer nerding to a new level by waking up early and waiting in line. “What is it that you were waiting for?” you might ask. Equilibrium Brewery was having a pop up can sale at Himmeriget, a beer bar actually not associated with Mikkeller (as far as I know). They also were selling Cantillon Blåbær Lambik bottles, but I was not going to wait 4+ hours in line for that. Although the can release was not very well organized, I did manage to snag one of each of the three.
For lunch, we went back to Torvehallerne, and I ate an excellent meaty pizza from Gorm’s Pizza. To drink, I returned to the Mikkeller & Friends Bottle Shop and picked up ₡hop Shop #1 from Mikkeller Brewing NYC. This double dry hopped guy was very well made and demonstrated Mikkeller’s seeming global domination.
Post-lunch we made one of the best decisions of our trip and rented a bike for touring the city. While walking around a city is great, biking lets you see so much more of the sights. We covered ~15 miles throughout the day and got to see a lot and hang out in a lot of parks we otherwise would not have if we were walking. We also made our way to another Mikkeller bar, Mikropolis. This location had more of a cocktail bar feel, and there was indeed a cocktail list featuring some beer laced libations. A modest draft list of ~10 taps kept the beer fiend in me happy. A Hoof Hearted tap takeover was taking place, so I ordered South of Eleven, a hazy 10.2% DIPA. My next beer would be my #8,000 Untappd unique, and I opted for I’ll Have What She’s Having, another DIPA that packed a fruity citrus punch.
We wandered around the city some more on our 2-wheeled steeds, and we eventually made our way back over to Mikkeller Baghaven. This time around it was much more crowded as MBCC neared and all its patrons were taking in the city before the start of the festival. Being in the general geographical land of the Vikings, I had to try Viking Metal from Jester King. This Scandinavian farmhouse ale was brewed with smoked malt and aged in gin barrels giving it herbal and earthy tones. I also had tastes of beer from the source with two chardonnay barrel fermented brews: Gift From Demeter, a rustic Danish spelt saison, and Kati, a wild ale in collaboration with 2nd Shift Brewing.
Before our dinner reservation, we shared a bottle of wine at Nærvær Vinbar & Restaurant, a fashionable spot on the water. The very nearby Barr was a much hyped restaurant we were going to, and we shared a decadent meal of lumpfish roe, bone marrow, frikadelle and waffles, and schnitzel. To wash all this deliciousness down, I had a Cantillon Rosé de Gambrinus and Kriekenlambik in addition to an Alesmith Thai Speedway Stout. Talk about an over the top meal! Before heading in for the night, we stopped by the now open Himmeriget, and I enjoyed a dank Harvester of Simcoe from Equilibrium. Another day of great fun and amazing beer was in the books.
Friday was the big MBCC day, but we had some business to take care of before that began. The day naturally started off by popping open one of the Equilibriums I had bought the morning before. Sexual Fluctuation was without a doubt one of the best IPAs I’ve ever had. Its super creamy and pillowy mouthfeel allowed the plethora of tropical flavors to make sweet sexy love to your taste buds. Damn near a sexual experience.
As a base layer for the copious amounts of beer we would soon drink, we went to WOK, and I had some very solid fried rice. We then dropped off our bikes and began our walk to Øksnehallen where MBCC was held. If you want to read all about our MBCC shenanigans, check out my previous article. In short summary, it was incredible, and you need to go if you hope to reach the upper stratosphere of beer nerdery. After the festival, we briefly and drunkenly stopped by Fermentoren. I had a beer, but it was not memorable in its quality or my recollection. A hearty burger was the logical next step, and Tommi’s Burger Joint would provide just the meal we were craving. It had been a serious day of drinking, and I had reached my limit on several fronts. My bed was the only respectable place to proceed.
Aaaaand Saturday was more of the same! Wake up. Drink some Equilibrium (MC² and Middletown Murk would provide the haze this go around). Consume a solid base layer of Asian food (Curry Nation and their red curry). Walk to MBCC. Drink ~50 samples of incredible beer. Somehow survive. I did throw in a curveball before the festival, and we stopped by Himmeriget for an Other Half tap takeover because my 3+ hours at the brewery a week ago was clearly not enough Other Half in my life. Double Dry Hopped All Citra Everything and Simcoe + Idaho7 provided the pre-festival juice I needed. I don’t remember what I ate post-festival, and it’s not important anyways. I made it out of MBCC alive and 99 Untappd check ins the richer. Truly a monumental achievement that will go down in the annals of mankind.
Saturday was our last day in Copenhagen, and I had to get in some final Danish beering. Nearby our Airbnb was a local brewery, Nørrebro Bryghus. We ate lunch there (I had another solid burger), and I had a flight of their brews. It was a cool spot, but their beer was nothing special. Their IPL, Hva’ Ka’ Du, Lager?, and hoppy lager with grapefruit, All Hail The King, were refreshing, but considering the gluttony of amazing beer I’d had the past week, I was underwhelmed. As a last hurrah, my buddy and I ditched Danielle to go to Mikkeller & Friends. The Veil redferrari was a luxurious 8% DIPA that got my heart racing. A double dose of Triple IPAs was next: Tired Hands Human Beings Are Easy: Grapefruit and The Veil Paul From Cloudwater. I also had tastes of my friend’s Tired Hands beers, Frequency Illusion: Merlot and Corralet, both of which were delightfully funky. Tired Hands makes some damn good beer. Before Danielle and I headed towards our cruise ship to leave Copenhagen, we had a final farewell beer at the Airbnb. Don’t Microwave It, Don’t Boil It from Hoof Hearted had a lot going on: sour IPA, raspberry, lime zest, tahitian vanilla, and milk sugar. Despite all this, it proved to be very tasteful and surprisingly cohesive. With a goodbye to our buddy, we left the apartment and Copenhagen, leaving nothing but memories and empty beer cans behind.
What a week in Copenhagen! We managed to see most of the city and visit nearly every Mikkeller associated bar. We had some incredible food, and I had to take out a second mortgage to afford the last couple days. Copenhagen was an incredible city, and I will absolutely be returning in the future. Stay tuned for my next article about our couple days in Oslo…