Food & Drink

Why Do Danes Drink Beer? A Brewmaster Explains

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Danish beer has some of the most exciting brews in the game right now. Crafted By, a Carlsberg subsidiary that runs independently, allows customers to create their own beer brews and labels, resulting in a fully customized drinking experience.

“Everything is trending towards customization right now,” says Brewmaster Jon Bonne Eriksen, “and we’re constantly growing for that reason. It’s definitely going to be part of what people expect in the future. I joined because I thought it was a great idea, and seemed like fun!”

Jon would know about trends in beer drinking; he’s been working with beer since 1980, when he began his career at Carlsberg. He’s been there ever since, in a variety of capacities, and began working with Crafted By in 2017. “I know how to make beer,” he laughs, understated as ever.

 

 

So what does a Brewmaster do? “I oversee all the production,” Jon explains, “and I’m in charge of all aspects of the brewing process.” That’s quite a complicated job at Crafted By, where there’s a selection of approximately ten “base beers” that are mixed together to achieve the flavors that customers create online via their webshop.

Jon is part of the great tradition of Danes Who Love Beer, and his length of experience has given him a good feel for the context and evolution of the Danish love of beer. “It started, as most people probably know, because during medieval times, the water was so dangerous to drink. So beer was a safer choice,” Jon notes, “but the alcohol content of the beer back then was much lower, so it’s not as though people were walking around drunk all the time!”

In addition, barley – a crop that is a major part of beer production – is grown all over Denmark. Back when the country was far more agricultural than it is today (and it’s still pretty agricultural), barley was a common crop for farmers. That resulted in most farms brewing their own beers. “They were…mostly terrible,” Jon remembers. “When I was traveling around back in the day, when I was working with Carlsberg, farmers would occasionally invite me to try their beers. It was fun, but the beer wasn’t good.”

 

 

Jon continues, “beer is just a huge part of the culture in Denmark. Our foods are heavy and go well with beer – potatoes, rye bread, pork. Every holiday is accompanied by beer in some way; there’s the Easter brew, which is a great, strong beer.” Then there’s the Julebryg – made infamous with 1980’s J-Day campaign that has become a sort of public holiday ever since. “I actually worked on that campaign!” Jon laughs. Okay, “master” is not a strong enough word for Jon’s level of experience.

Beer saw a slight decline in the late 90s, when Danes began drinking more wine. “Wine was seen as the fancier drink, and you could also buy a bottle of wine at a reasonable price, so it became the cool thing to invite people over for dinner and a bottle of wine, rather than having beer with their food. When the scene began to change again more recently, beer has had a renaissance. The microbreweries have changed everything, and suddenly it’s seen as sophisticated to pair beer with your meal,” Jon says.

 

 

This was helped by the New Nordic food movement, which took beer seriously as an accompaniment to their artistic and innovative dishes. That has been a catalyst for travelers as well as locals to seek out new and exciting beer.

“We see more and more customers coming to the site and creating their own beers,” Jon says, “and we take that to mean we’re on to something good. Danes do love beer, but they love it even more when they get a say in the taste and the design. I guess that goes back to the farmers a little bit; everyone wants their own beer!”

See more on Crafted By and buy yourself some personalized beers!

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