Let’s be honest, Copenhagen’s beer scene wasn’t exactly in dire straits before May of this year. Plenty of decent native breweries, world class beer bars, and a solid stream of high quality imports elevated the local scene to being amongst the best in the world.
What would make the scene better, you wonder? Well, given that slashing all beer prices in half was out of the question, the Beer Gods decreed that a new 60-tap bang-city-centre church of beer was required.
Taphouse opened its doors on the eve of this year’s Copenhagen Beer Celebration. Kicking off at a time of year when the city’s filled with travelling beer aficionados with cash on the hip to spend on as much good beer as possible is probably a smart move. Smart…and ballsy – you don’t want to cock it up in front of some of the world’s biggest beer nerds.
The location of this place is spot-on: bang central in the tourist-heavy area of Copenhagen, a couple of minutes walk from Tivoli and right by Strøget (the main shopping strip). However, it’s thankfully a little set back on a quiet side street, so you’d doubt it would ever be flooded with confused tourists looking for a sarnie and a can of Coke.
Walking into the bar, you can feel that it’s in its very early infancy. There’s a slight sense that it’s a work in progress (especially when you head downstairs to the bathrooms!) – I’m pretty sure had it not been for CBC, they would have waited another week or so to open.
However, I still think it looked good. Another example of Scandi minimalist design, although with a much darker feel: open plan, upcycled wood cladding the walls, exposed lightbulbs, and a slightly unusual choice of dark dark grey on the walls.
There’s a mix of trestle tables, tree stumps, and barstools for people-watching at the arched windows – you’ll not struggle to find somewhere to perch (I should have said, the place is bloody huge).
Ill-informed interior design critique done, so let’s talk about the beer, eh?
The selection is bloody great. 60 brews on tap (all keg) and a real strong focus on local Danish beer.
I was delighted to come across the beers of a few smaller Danish breweries. These (rightly or wrongly) occasionally do get lost amongst the razzmatazz of the other beer bars in the city, who regularly put crazy-good imported shit from the likes of Three Floyds on tap. Ugly Duck Brewing Co. and Flying Couch were two new ones for me
(shoutout to the former’s Imperial Vanilla Porter)
Not to be beaten by the superstar beer selections of Mikkeller & Friends et al., Taphouse had its own big guns on tap, mostly in the form of Evil Twin. Their hazy pinkish Berliner Weisse, Luksus One, gave a refreshing hit of green apple, citrus and peach with a little musty lactic tang to keep you interested. Less sessionable was Molotov Cocktail; at 13% ABV, this DIPA gives a load of boozy pine resin, grapefruit and sweet caramel. Abrasively bitter, you damn well know you’re not supposed to be supping more than a couple of halves of this. Better still, I was weeping with joy to find the delectable Imperial Biscotti Break pouring. Lord, this is one serious Imperial Porter. Full of delicious dark chocolate, almond essence, dark roast coffee and a hint of vanilla – unlike its stablemate, Molotov Cocktail, this is a 10%+ beer that you’d quite happily drink til the end of time.
However! All the beers listed above paled into insignificance compared to one brew that truly deserves the headlines: Amager/Grassroots Skyggebilleder/Shadow Pictures. This transatlantic collaborative DIPA is quite literally up there with the best I’ve ever had: loads of pine, spruce and juicy oranges on the nose with bitter grapefruit and spruce up front on the palate, some juicier stuff happening, before dry pithiness takes hold. There’s only a touch of lightly sweet biscuit malt before we get to a long sprucey, grapefruity finish. This 8%-er definitely rivals Russian River’s Pliny in my mind. And that’s bloody well saying something.
Yep, the beers were absolutely great. Alongside the Danes on the taplist, there were plenty of international interests, from the glorious Moor (Somerset, UK) to Great Divide in the States. Something for everyone, to put it mildly.
The prices? Aye, they’re Copenhagen prices. Expect to be paying three or four quid for a half pint at the minimum. What is fantastic is the fact they have little tasting glasses with which you can “build your own flight”; I think the volume of these little things is between 10cl and 15cl and the price for whichever beer is 20DKK (two and a half quid). Happy days.
In all, I’m a big fan of this place, even if it is in the very early days of its existence. No doubt it’ll improve with age, but the staff members were all great throughout my few visits and the beer list really is wonderful – so as a ‘now’ destination it really does hit the spot. Anyone planning a beer trip to Copenhagen who doesn’t include this place on their itinerary should have their head checked.