Beer has been a part of Danish culture for the last 5000 years. Today there are more than 100 breweries in Denmark, and in 2010 every Dane drank the equivalent of 80 litres of beer. This is a brief guide to the history of beer in Denmark
The Danes have been drinking beer for nearly 5000 years. The oldest find of beer in Denmark comes from 2800 BC.
Until the Middle Ages women brewed the beer in Denmark, but in 1525 Copenhagen established its first brewing guild. From then on it was more and more considered the man's job to produce “the liquid gold”, at least in the cities. The guild was an association of small brewers, who were to deliver beer to the people as well as the king and the military, where the daily ration was 10 litres of beer per man!
Until 1838 hvidtøl (white beer) was the only type of beer in Denmark
In the countryside it was still the woman's job to brew beer, and many farmers’ wives competed to brew the best beer to attract the best workers. But beer was also used as medicine, and different types of beer were supposed to be good for almost everything from kidney stones to depression.
Until the 1830s the only beer produced in Denmark was the so-called Hvidtøl (white beer), but in 1838 the brewer J.C. Jacobsen presented a new type of beer, Bavarian beer, to the Danish king. Bavarian beer was made in an entirely new way, had a finer flavour, and could last longer. In 1847 this new type of beer production led to the foundation of the world famous brewery Carlsberg.
A selection of the various types of Carlsberg beer
The second major Danish brewery Tuborg was founded in 1873 and by 1880 had introduced the so-called Pilsner (lager) in Denmark. This heralded a new revolution in the Danes' beer taste, and pilsner is to this day still the favourite type of beer in Denmark.
Popular Tuborgh add "The thirsty man"
Throughout the 20th century a number of smaller provincial breweries were founded, and in the last twenty years a range of microbreweries that specialize in small-scale production of exclusive beer has seen the light. Ttoday it is estimated there are over 200 microbreweries, with dozens of styles and hundreds of craft beers currently being brewed in Denmark.
With microbreweries now firmly back in fashion, even Carlsberg, Denmark’s largest brewery, has jumped on the bandwagon and established its own microbrewery, Husbryggeriet Jacobsen.
And this year, local microbrewery Amager Bryghus was awarded the prize of best brewery in Denmark and one of the best breweries in the world by prestigious website ratebeer.com.
The Tuborg bottle in Hellerup north of Copenhagen
Beer is thus still very popular in Denmark. In 2010 the Danes drank 453 million litres of beer, equivalent to about 80 litres of beer per person. Although the figure is high, it is a lot less than in 2000 when each Dane drank the equivalent of more than 100 litres of beer. One reason for the decline is that the Danes are now drinking less alcohol overall, and that wine is becoming more popular.
Watch the video to find out all about the award winning microbrewery Amager Bryghus: