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The Danish Beer festival.
Once a year, in May, Danske Øl-entusiaster (The Danish Beer Enthusiasts) arrange a large Beer Festival: Copenhagen Beer Days1. Beer from all over Denmark - indeed from most of the world - is represented during three hectic days in May. In an indoor sporting arena on the outskirts of Copenhagen, in Valby, more than 900 different types of beer are being presented by some 75 brewers and importers. Porter, ale, stout, lager... you name it, it'll be there. From Denmark, England, Germany, Holland, USA, Belgium, and Japan. Big, well-known breweries like Tuborg and Heineken, and lots of small breweries like Danish Wintercoat and Hancock.

The first festival was held in 2000. It was far from the big event it has become today: held in Øksne hallen, an exhibition center built in 1901, there was not nearly room enough for the visiting beer lovers. They had to queue up outside, waiting for someone to leave in order to get in. To top it off (if my source remembers correctly) it was raining! Since then the festival has grown, and in 2005, 10,574 visitors went through the doors in Valby Hallen to join in the fun.

In 2006 the festival will open at 4 pm (16.00) on Friday, May 19, and close at 6 pm (18.00) on Sunday, May 212. For 75 Dkr you get one entrance ticket (good for one day), one sample glass3, one beer catalogue, and two tokens with wich to buy beer samples. Additional tokens can be purchased once you're inside.

The hall inside is the size of a small football field. Once you get past the foyer and enter the main hall, you are in beer heaven. The space is divided into four or five aisles, lined with booths. Each and every booth offers samples of beer; some booths just a few, some booths as many as ten or fifteen. You walk around with your catalogue and your sample glass - and the extra tokens you bought before you entered the hall - and begin sampling beers from all over the world. One token buys you 10 cl, or, in the case of more rare brews, 5 cl. It may not seem a lot, but it is enough to get a good taste. And remember: there are 900 different beers to sample.

At most of the micro-breweries' booths the brewers themselves are present, and they are only too happy to talk about their work and passion. They gladly explain about hops and barley, water and yeast, temperature and humidity. I must say, though, that after sampling some 34 beers (34*10 cl is a fair amount of beer, even stretched out over three hours) I really don't understand much of what I am told, let alone remember it.

There will be two contests during the festival: The Danish Championship in Manual Brewing (a nice term for home brewing), and the Scandinavian ditto. It is a serious competition, and the competing beer often taste every bit as good as commercially brewed beer.

Danish Beer Enthusiasts are members or EBCU, the European Beer Consumers Union, of May 25, 1990. It is a union founded by CAMRA (England), PINT (Holland), and OBP (Belgium). EBCU represents more than 90,000 consumers of beer all over Europe.

  1. They have a number of arrangements around Denmark every year. "Copenhagen Beer Days" is by far the largest.
  2. Well, it's not open around the clock; it closes at 11 pm Friday and Saturday, opening at noon Saturday and Sunday.
  3. The glasses have "Danske Ølentusiaster"'s logo, and the year in question printed on them, and are quite nice to collect. I will get my third this year.

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