Copenhagen 2012: Danes Know Beer

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In the last seven days, I’ve had the privilege of attending not one but two beer tastings. It may not have been a fancy wine event, but I’m from the sticks, people, and this is a big deal for me.

Now, out of respect for my more knowledgeable friends who run beer blogs and publish beer columns and brew at home and have tried every single one of those sampler six pack options at the local grocery store (what is it with journalists and beer, anyway?), I’m not going to pretend that these experiences made me an expert. But they did take place in Denmark, so that’s cool, right?

My first tasting took place at the Nørrebro Bryghus, or the Nørrebro Brewhouse in English. We sampled four specialties while one of the brewers explained the recipes and processes and generally bitched about how they use gross things like corn in the big American brews. Apparently that’s just wrong, man. He also named his favorite breweries in every single American state we threw his way, so I’m going to say he knew what was what. 

The second, and largely unexpected, beer tasting took place during my study tour to the Danish city of Sønderborg. This one was planned by my program as well, and included one of those beer-tower thingies which are really only acceptable at Mexican restaurants in the US but which seem to be a staple of the average bar experience in Europe. Why did we want to leave, again?

Anyway, there was generally less explanation involved in this tasting tour, but the tower was exciting. And it left me thinking about what beer means to me. Deep, right?

See, I really like beer, and, since I started drinking, have been up to try just about anything that’s thrown my way. This confuses most of my female friends, but here is my theory: if you walk into a seedy bar and order a glass of white wine, you’re going to look like a fool. In Middle America, we drink beer. You should be able to walk into a bar, order something on tap, and sit at that bar with pride. Plus, one of my life goals is to at some point feel very at home in a seedy bar, and this just isn’t going to be achieved with white wine and skinny bitches.

And on occasion, I’ve had great beer. There’s a great brewery in the town where I go to school. The most ill-fated non-dates of my life started with a plate of nachos and an uncharacteristically classy flight of beer. But, for the most part, what’s thrown my way is a desperate mix of Natty Lite/Bush/Pabst Blue Ribbon.

American college social life is in large part about beer. Think about it.:“What’s that you said? Bin Laden is Dead?” Boom! Make yourself an American Flag shirt and buy yourself a case.

But now that I’m older and wiser and three weeks more European, I’ve decided to give up the watered down beer of my (relative) youth. They like good beer here, and I’m inspired to move on to the smaller brews I’ve really started to love. And while my knowledge to this point is still about as deep as a puddle, I’m using this trip to broaden my horizons. And maybe find a seedy bar or two.

Photo: at

Claire Wiseman

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