The highlight of May, and almost certainly 2018, was obviously MBCC in Copenhagen. This year my visit extended to six days, so I was able to experience more of the accompanying Beer Week events around the city.
As in 2017, I bumped into another regular Bottle Shop couple at Gatwick, early Tuesday morning! A gorgeous, sunny day greeted us in Denmark, so much so, that we decided to immediately break the “no drinking straight off plane” rule. The obvious and nearest choice was WarPigs.
The excellent MBCC App listed a Bottle Logic event. I must confess that I had never heard of them and so didn’t imagine it would be busy, which reveals my ignorance and incompetence, as we were greeted by a 45 minute queue at midday!
Bottle Logic are apparently famous for imperial stouts, but I sensibly stayed off them, and enjoyed the sun outside, where we shared a table, and chatted with, Keith Shore, the Philadelphia-based designer of the iconic Mikkeller label.
We then took a taxi to Koelschip, the small cellar bar dedicated to Belgium, and particularly Lambic and spontaneous fermented beer. As befitting English abroad, we couldn’t stay out of the sun, and so went next door to Mikkeler & Friends. The next day was Ascension Day bank holiday, so the evening back at WarPigs was full of civilian as well as MBCC attendees.
Thursday´s plan was to walk to Brus. However, it now doesn’t open until 3pm, which is later than last year. The main Mikkeller Bar hosted Other Half. Very good, but expensive and I have had them in London many times, so we went to Baghaven, the barrel aging facility in the rural outskirts of, the, not very big, city.
They did have some queuing logistical issues but the beers were excellent. There was a separate pop-up with Alchemist who brought their IPA, which they recommend to drink straight out of the can, as it protects the aroma, although I’m not convinced!
Finally, back to Fermentoren, which I had visited last year, with the Editor, on our first evening, but which was completely different to my vague, drunken memories. Upon sharing this story, Evin O’Riordain from The Kernel, (apologies for the name-dropping), remarked that he had also been present in 2017, which I also blacked out. (Likewise, so thanks for letting me know – Ed).
MBCC´s format is free-pour, which works best for festivals. I had a Gold ticket so got in 20 minutes early before the hordes of single-session ticket-holders. During every session there are a few beers which have queues, and then run out early: Bokkereyder, always, Omnipollo soft serve, and then the top two or three on RateBeer for that particular session.
I don’t see the point of queuing for the notorious, usually RateBeer influenced beers, as however remarkable they might be, there is quality everywhere: At MBCC, grazing is the key!
There were so many amazing beers, so this is far from a defintive list. However, I jotted down the following: Angry Chair Rainbow Sherbert Berlinner Weisee with pineapple, raspberry and citrus juice. Various flavours of Fonta Flora Apalachian Wild Ale.
The Veil Never Never double range: Satisfied, a sweet cheery Gose and Scared, with Guava. Tamp´s Cigar City always seems to make great festival beers, and 2018 MBCC was no exception, but I won’t single one out.
Fantastic sours from Black Project every session, including Cygnus, with cherries, and others aged with wine grapes. Proper modern, high ABV meads from Superstition: I covered these last year, as it’s a style we do not see in the UK, and we’re still waiting for distributors to work with Superstitution!
Other Half´s Go With The Flow Mosaic Dream, saisons from Threes Brewing, Modern Times’ Monster Tones, a 50/50 blend of Modem Tones and Monsters´Park, two Bourbon BA imperial stouts, a dessert special with coconut and vanilla, which was a RateBeer special on session three.
Finally, amazing spontaneous wild ales from de Garde, blended with so many different fruits from cider apples to Oregon peaches. I could truly go on listing more beers for page after page.
Friday night at Brus, seemed to contain almost every MBCC visitor I recognised, and its always a fun place. Saturday had dawned with a predictable hangover, and I made the mistake of finally going for a Bokkereyder: this meant I lost almost 10 minutes of the special 20 minutes Gold Ticket time, but also, it was a hair of the dog, so I downed it, which was a complete waste!
There was a fifth session on the Sunday, for Gold ticket-holders, with the event left-overs, which was extremely controversial as it was announced after many had booked flights home. It was a very mellow affair, with few crowds, and we even poured most beers ourselves!
Obviously most of the superstars didn’t slip through, but New Bissell IPA and Kane and Sunday Brunch somehow did! The late announcement was the only mistake the organisers made and I would have been annoyed if I had missed it: We also lost the “Lucky Dip” of last year at Baghaven, which was so enjoyable!
A couple of notable restaurants, very conveniently located next to the Festival venue: Danish tapas at Skank, and the superb Sanchez, a modern Mexican, named after its head chef Rosio, who is ex-Noma, although we were probably too drunk to do it justice! Its street-food Tacos offshoot, Hija de Sanchez, is two minutes from MBCC, so refuelled many a guest, ourselves included.
I was pleased we had stayed until Monday afternoon as it gave a chance to look round the city before a final drink in the main spots, which were very much after The Lord Mayor´s show.
Overall, this was a wonderful few days, Europe´s best beer event, in a charming city, blessed by unseasonably glorious weather. I would recommend MBCC to any beer lover, and will be back in 2019.
There were less events to report on in the UK: Mother Kelly’s hosted the annual Sour Power 4 (Pendant’s Alert: I attended the first in 2014, so am convinced it should be #5 this year). A good, rather than exceptional range, it will surprise no-one that my favourite beer was a Damson-flavoured entry from Kernel, as it always is.
The beer has changed name though, and is now a “Bierre de Saison”, rather than a “Sour”. Apparently, it is exactly the same recipe, but the barrels it matures in, now have the “experience” of containing previous iterations, which means it qualifies. I have no idea if this is true!
Magic Rock Cannonball special. This annual event has declined in importance since the raging queues of 2014 or 2015, but that is due to other breweries catching up, rather than Magic Rock, the innovators of UK TIPA’s, declining. In 2018, the London release was no longer exclusively at Craft Beer Co, N1.
I had the Cannonball Run, Human DIPA, Unhuman TIPA, and, this year, Neo-Human, a NEDIPA, at Mother Kelly’s. Twitter was treated to the unedifying spectacle of distributor Kicking Horse proudly recording their journey down from Huddersfield to bring it to their customers. Unfortunately it was a standard Transit van, on a day, at the start of the summer, which as I write in late June, is shaping up to be the hottest since 2003. Warm-chain! No wonder the beer scene in London restaurants is so far behind, when their suppliers are well-meaning, but so amateur.
Bottle Shop hosted Californication, a celebration of Cold Chained beers from the Golden State. Pride of place went to Modern Times City of The Sun IPA, which had been one of beers of the year for 2016.
Given what was to happen in June, it is good to write that this month was relatively free of news: Boston private equity fund Castanea Partners, who specialise in $15-$150 million investments in consumer products brands, bought a majority stake in The Bruery.
Chorlton announced plans to Crowdcube funding for a branch in Belgium, although the level of financial innumeracy that will be reached between a UK brewery that once tweeted that a sterling devaluation hurts their exports, and Crowdcube, is truly frightening.
And finally, Beavertown announced they would be contract brewing at Belgium’s Brouwerij de Brabandere. I have covered the beginning of the Spurs/Heineken saga elsewhere (http://beerinsider.com/amateur-drinker-loses-taste-for-beavertown-and-its-extravaganza/), and rest assured, it plays a significant role in June´s write-up!
Reporting from the front-line – Amateur Drinker manages to get along to all the beer things you’d like to but couldn’t. If you see this man and are tempted to buy him a drink think of the consequences.