MICROBREWERIES, INTERVIEW WITH HENRIK PAPSOE

Kommunikationschef, Amager Bryghus

papsoe@amagerbryghus.dk

tlf: 32 50 62 00

I asked about the claim made on one of their You Tube videos that Denmark has the highest number of micro-breweries per capita.

“It’s actually not correct. The highest number per capita is Switzerland, followed by Iceland and I think Denmark is third. It’s a commonly quoted error and I keep trying to tell everyone that I know that it is wrong that everyone says that, but nobody seems to listen. So, Switzerland, Iceland and then Denmark is third.

I know for certain that it’s Switzerland. I know the guy in Switzerland who records all the Swiss official breweries, because they have a different law that means that even home brewers can define themselves as official brewers, and they can sell to their local village, so technically they are a brewery. So, in that way there are many more in Switzerland. And Iceland, they don’t have many breweries but they have only a quarter of a million people, so it doesn’t take a lot of breweries to make the most per capita.

Probably different people have different claims. To find any authority source on that, I doubt that’s possible. And it may change from year to year, depending on how many breweries open. But yea, it would be a small country because with a small country it’s easier to get the most breweries per capita.

About the trend, would you say that there has been an increase in craft breweries?

Oh yes, absolutely, I was a founding member of the Danish Enthusiasts Society in 1998, because we were fed up with the way that things were going in Denmark. The big breweries were buying out the small ones and closing them. It’s the same thing that’s happening in a lot of western European countries, and the US previously. So, when we founded the Danish Beer Enthusiast Society in 98 (https://beerenthusiast.dk/) there were only 13 breweries left in Denmark, and today we have passed 200.

So, quite a lot has happened since then. We call it the Danish beer revolution.  It took us a few years after 2000, small home-brewers started going commercial, trying to see if they could make a living from it and then it just exploded. There were a couple of years where there was like 5 breweries opening every month. Since then things have faded out somewhat.

There were a couple years where the amount of breweries was actually dropping, but in recent years it’s been going up again, not at the same rate, but it has been going up to an amount where we now have the most breweries ever in Denmark.

I know a statistics guy, who knows all the numbers for that kind of stuff. He could probably help you with a lot of details. He does all the statistics for the brewery organization by collecting data from all the breweries. He’s also the one who makes the yearly list about all the new beers that come out. (gave details)

Is it hard for small breweries to survive? With the increase in microbreweries are people becoming more interested in beer that is not mass-produced? Are they focused on price over a unique beer experience?

That has happened the last 20 years, that craft beers and specialty beers are not just for a few geeky beer-lovers. It’s been spreading out into also into the main supermarkets with them starting to carry craft beer. So, it’s definitely a trend that’s been spreading.

But Danes are very focused on price, so Danes would go for any good offer. Any 3 beers for 100 dkk without really realizing is this good craft beer or is this actually just one of the big brewers making what we call “fake craft”? Because some of the big commercial brewers have started putting out beers that look and have names and designs that look like craft, but it’s made by the big commercial breweries. So, a lot of Danes are not really critical about where they put their money, you know.

If they want to support the craft beer revolution they have to also be political consumers and support the small breweries, instead of just putting their money where the best offer is. It might be just the big guys, Carlsberg or something else hiding.

But you can see by the amount of craft beers and specialty bars opening up in Copenhagen it’s definitely a trend that is here to stay. And craft beer is growing in the percentage of the market every year, but it’s still a small percentage. So, the big guys still take way, way, way more of the market.

Do you notice a type of people who are more appreciative of original craft beer?

Usually when you have a revolution, it’s usually the young people driving it. Because they have fewer traditions and they are more inclined to try out new things. And That’s been happening recently here and it’s sort of the hipster, young crowd. We are quite surprised to see that, also now the older generation seems to be getting into craft beer and coming there, they are able to pay the price and also seek out challenging beers.

Do you have anything to add about the trends in Denmark?

(gave in an invite) Next week we have 2 American craft breweries coming here, to brew a beer with us. (event is by invite only) A lot of people from the business are coming here to hang out. Beer geeks and beer bloggers, brewers and whatnot. It’s sort of a busy house with an interesting environment. And then every year around the Saturday closest to the 4th of July we release these American collaboration beers.

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