Only 20 years ago Copenhagen was a terrible place to have a nice beer, unless you were in the mood for a Carlsberg. Thankfully, a lot has changed since then. Since the early 2000s, Copenhagen has seen a massive growth in breweries, beer bars, and bottle shops.

It all started with a few brewpubs and, before you knew it, every neighborhood and every rural town had their own brewpub or brewery. The growth happened a bit too fast with a few too many untalented brewers “crafting” beers that frankly weren’t very good or interesting. Slowly, the general public learned to appreciate the better breweries causing a thinning of the herd, leaving behind only the breweries that met a certain standard.

New breweries are continuously popping up but now with a new generation of well trained and talented brewers, who frequently start out as gypsy or contract brewers. Gypsy brewers have no physical brewing facilities themselves, but travel to breweries with excess capacity and rent the space to produce their own beers. Typically they are kegged or bottled at the contract facility but distributed by the gypsy brewers themselves.

The local Copenhagen breweries are extremely productive. The breweries are constantly launching new beers using both traditional and unorthodox Nordic and global ingredients, like Japanese citrus fruit Yuzu or the new Nordic cuisine favorite berry, sea buckthorn. The Copenhagen craft scene is fairly small and a lot of collaboration takes place both internally between the Copenhagen breweries but also with brewing colleagues from around the world. Especially the annual Mikkeller Beer Celebration Copenhagen event is fostering many interesting internationals collaborations and hence exciting new beers for locals to consume.

For me as a local, these are the breweries and bars that should be on the must-visit list for any beer lover visiting Copenhagen. The list is by no means exhaustive, but my Copenhagen beer guide includes some of my personal favorites.

Copenhagen Beer Guide

Copenhagen Beer Guide: What the Locals Drink

Nørrebro Bryghus / Braw

One of the craft beer pioneers in Copenhagen, Nørrebro opened in 2003 and was part of kickstarting the Danish craft beer revolution. It’s an American inspired brewpub offering great beers in a spacious setting. In 2006, they expanded with a production brewery outside Copenhagen enabling a wide distribution of both bottles and kegs. A few years ago, the brewpub was rebooted with Braw, a new brand of experimental beers made in the brewpub. They are creative, well-executed and modern brews. Try the IPA with added coffee beans or a Witbier with green coriander and sea buckthorn with the excellent name: “This is Not Normal”.

Flying Couch

What started out as a one-man gypsy brewery (a Nørrebro Bryghus alumnus), has since evolved into a fully fledged brewery in the northwest neighborhood of Copenhagen. The profile is urban with fruity Berliner Weisse’s, hoppy Pale Ales spanning both east and west-coast styles and big Stouts. Everything is well balanced, well crafted and extremely drinkable. Flying Couch is very active in the collaboration scene doing collabs with breweries such as British Siren Craft Brew, Wylam Brewery, and Icelandic Borg Brugghús. The brewery hosts a “Friday Tap” event to celebrate the end of the week. I recommend combining a visit with pizza from nearby Behov, who even have a house beer made exclusively by Flying Couch.

Dry & Bitter

In 2011, another Nørrebro alumnus started his own endeavor as a craft beer entrepreneur by opening the excellent watering hole Fermentoren (read more below). However, this was not enough for a crafty young high school teacher, who ditched his formal career to launch Dry & Bitter. Staying true to its name, the brewery has a big focus on Pale Ales & IPAs in a modern American hop-forward tradition. The strong lineup is supplemented by a few sours and a few Stouts. Dry & Bitter is extremely active on the international beer festival scene and travels regularly across Europe, the UK and elsewhere. If you miss them in Copenhagen, check out when they come to a festival near you on their website.

Amager Bryghus

Founded in 2007, Amager is one of the older players in the Copenhagen craft beer scene, but they are still going strong. The style is classic American with great IPAs and hoppy stouts with a few Belgian ales and some barrel-aged special editions thrown in the mix. The baseline is very high and everything coming out of Amager is tasty. Lookout for their Sinner Series which is particularly recommendable. Amager has a wide distribution and can be found in better supermarkets. On Saturdays, the brewery outlet is open for merchandise and bottle sales.

Copenhagen Beer Guide

Mikkeller

The behemoth on the Copenhagen craft beer scene, Mikkeller was founded in 2006 by a math & physics teacher. What started out as a side gig on top of a day job as a teacher has since turned into a massive craft beer empire. Mikkeller has gained international acclaim for its bold and experimental beers and has managed to open an impressive number of bars and restaurants around the world in places such as San Diego, Bangkok, Barcelona, Bucharest, Berlin, Warsaw, Reykjavik etc. The list goes on and on and includes 15(!) locations in Copenhagen, spanning from beer bars over Ramen-joints to a small craft chocolate manufacturer. Mikkeller utilizes the gypsy brewing model by having their beer produced by renting excess capacity at other breweries to be likely the most productive brewery in the world with – at press time – 1,069 different beers produced. Some of the most interesting ones are barrel-aged at Baghaven, an old warehouse converted to a modern barrel room and bar.

Copenhagen Beer Guide

Evil Twin

Evil Twin is founded by the twin brother of Mikkeller. The two brothers have always been competing and, eventually, Copenhagen wasn’t big enough for both of them so Evil Twin relocated to New York City. A story so good that New York Times wrote a story about it. Evil Twin is also a so-called gypsy brewery and while most brews are produced in the US, I still consider it a Copenhagen brewery. Evil Twin has a slightly more aggressive beer style and focuses on hoppy IPAs and big Stouts, thruogh especially noteworthy is their collaboration with Brussels based lambic brewery Cantillon for a blueberry special edition that sells for upwards of $500 a bottle.

People Like Us

Not many breweries are run by autists, but People Like Us is. It is a socio-innovative business that employs people with autism to perform the different jobs needed to operate and run a brewery. The brewery was found only in 2016, but have already made a mark by doing collaborations with most of the great craft breweries in or near Copenhagen. Mikkeller has taken PLU under its wing and is making both beer know-how and distribution channels available for them.

Copenhagen Beer Guide

Brewski

Not exactly a Copenhagen brewery, but Brewski deserves an honorable mention. Brewski is a young brewery in Helsingborg, just an hour from Copenhagenon the Swedish side of the water. They are renowned for their fruity IPAs that incorporate real tropical fruit. If you come across a Mangofeber DIPA or Pango IPA with passionfruit, pineapple & mango added, do not hesitate to try it. It’s absolutely delicious and is one of the most drinkable beers I’ve ever tried.

Copenhagen Beer Guide: Top Beer Bars & Bottle Shops

Copenhagen Beer Guide

Fermentoren

Fermentoren is one of my favorite bars in Copenhagen. It strikes a great balance between being a homely hangout and having a great beer selection at reasonable prices. The decor is shaby meets English pub, with decorations that reveal a strong affection for cult movie The Big Lebowski. One of the owners is also behind Dry & Bitter Brewing Co. so you can always find a few of their excellent brews amongst the 20 taps. There is ample seating outside during summer and – if the Copenhagen weather plays along – plenty of sun during the day. Check their Facebook pages for frequent tap takeovers and collaboration releases. If you’re lucky they’ll even have the barbecue on for a “bring your own meat”event.

Søernes Ølbar

Along the Copenhagen Lakes you’ll find Søernes Ølbar, a medium-sized venue with lakefront seating. The 20 taps are ever-changing, but you usually can find a varied mix of predominantly hoppy pale & dark Ales, Lagers and some sours on tap. You can almost always find something from Flying Couch alongside beers from Dry & Bitter, Amager Bryghus and other Danish & international craft breweries. Half of the bar has a few TVs in strategic places that show mostly football matches and other major sporting events, but fear not, the other half allows for focused beer drinking without sporting distractions.

Copenhagen Beer Guide

Warpigs

If you are in the mood for authentic Texas-style barbecue and excellent craft beer, Warpigs is the place to be. This joint venture between Mikkeller and American 3Floyds Brewing Co. offer massive amounts of smoked meats as well as fresh beers from the onsite brewery and a few guest appearances. Located in the old Meatpacking District, Warpigs is the perfect spot to enjoy the perfectly smoked meats. Mikkeller doesn’t do anything superficially so the head chef is naturally a direct import from Texas. Every day he smokes meat between 12-14 hours to make it perfectly moist and tender.

Himmeriget

This small place in Frederiksberg is easy to miss, but very much worth a visit. Himmeriget offers up a selection of ten beers on tap and an ever-changing selection of cans and bottles. The bar strikes a great balance between a modern bar and a classic Danish watering hole – a bodega. The selection is heavy on sours, IPAs, and strong Stouts, but you can always find a crisp Pilsner on tap as well. The bar is partly owned by Jeppe from Evil Twin Brewing resulting in a great influx of both new Evil Twin brews as well as cans and kegs from both Danish and American friends. On top of the normal selection, you’ll find some of the finest and rarest bottles in the world from Himmeriget’s extensive cellar.

Copenhagen Beer Guide

Black Swan

In central Copenhagen, not far from the Little Mermaid, you’ll find this cozy bar with both excellent craft beer and a nice collection of whiskey. Black Swan looks like a cross between a British pub and a Danish cafe, but the beer quality and dedication for good beer is evident when looking at the tap list. The bar focuses on Danish microbreweries and offers a balanced mix of taps and levels of experimentation. Black Swan is a favorite hangout for the downtown corporate crowd for after-work drinks. If you get peckish, pizza can be ordered from across the street.

Mikkeller Beer Celebration Copenhagen

Each year in May, Mikkeller hosts a massive beer festival. It spans four sessions over two days and is hosted in an old slaughtering hall in the Meatpacking District in central Copenhagen. This year a hundred breweries will participate and pour two different beers each session. World Class breweries from around the world participate and bring some of the best beers they produce. During the week leading up to the event, Copenhagen turns into a craft beer lovers heaven, with most craft beer bars having tap takeovers, street parties and breweries doing crazy collaborations.

Copenhagen Beer Guide

Kihoskh

Simply the best bottle shop in Copenhagen, Kihoskh has gained almost cult-like status amongst visiting beer geeks. At first glance, it looks like a normal cornerstone where you can buy everything from toothpaste to cereal and milk, but when you look a little closer, Aladdin’s Cave opens up. In the corner of the shop, there is a staircase which looks almost off-limits to the public, but don’t hesitate to walk down into the small basement. Here you’ll find shelves crammed together under the low ceiling stacked with craft beers from around the world. A large selection of the best Danish microbreweries are on offer alongside the best American and Belgian brews. Don’t miss having a coffee and croissant outside the shop, especially after a night out with a few too many.


Copenhagen Beer Guide courtesy of Black Swan, Jeff Flindt, Mikkeller, Adam Chandler, Bernt Rostad, Mike Fleming, and Henrik Aanensen 


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This post was produced in partnership with Spotted by Locals – a series of apps and blogs with up-to-date tips by locals in 60+ cities across Europe and North America. To get more local tips, visit the Spotted by Locals website or download the app.

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David Brandt

David Brandt

David Brandt grew up in Copenhagen and has lived in the cozy Frederiksberg neighborhood since 2002. He used to be a brewer & beer sommelier and has hosted 1000s of beer tastings. He's a blogger for Spotted by Locals Copenhagen.

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