Nick O / 26.03.12
Denmark is perhaps most famous for providing the world with Lego, nice design and Hans Christian Andersen. But more recently Australia has been on the receiving end of a new kind of Danish export: Gypsy Brewers.
Within the last few weeks, Mikkel Borg Bjergsø, from Mikkeller, has brewed collaborations at Mountain Goat and Bridge Road, while Christian Skovdal Andersen from Beer Here brewed at Red Duck and Moon Dog. No sooner had the pair boarded their planes and the beer community was able to welcome Anders Kissmeyer – probably the best Danish brewer you’ve never heard of (middle above). We couldn’t help but slip in the Carlsberg marketing line because Anders was head brewer there for 16 years before going on to Nørrebro Bryghus. Highly respected and experienced, these days he runs his own craft brewery named ‘Kissmeyer’ which has, in a roundabout way, helped bring him to Australia.
His official role on this trip is to judge at the Australian International Beer Awards (AIBA), but he’s also managing to pack in a whole bunch of other beer-related activities, among them sessions at Chapel St Cellars, Josie Bones and collaborative brews at Schwartz Brewery, Red Duck and Moon Dog. And the first of those has already taken place.
Having flown all the way around the world and touched down in Sydney at 9am, Anders dismissed the usual tourist attractions of the Harbour Bridge and Opera House in favour of a basement in Surry Hills, where he was mashing in at the Schwartz brewery by 10:30am.
“It’s all about the beer” he says. With that sort of dedication, it’s hard to argue.
After some initial discussions, Schwartz head brewer Michael Capaldo had sourced the ingredients for what the collaborative decided would be a “yeast-driven farmhouse style, with a local touch provided by some distinctly Australian ingredients; bush tomatoes, pepperberries and wattleseed. And just for some extra fun, a bit of pomegranate.”
Part of the expertise Anders was able to provide was the ability to bring all the unique ingredients together – none of which he’d tried previously – to find the right balance. That’s where all the years of experience come in, to which assistant brewer Andrew Moore will no doubt testify; “Even spending just one day in the brewery with Anders I’ve learned so many incredibly useful things,” he says.
The beer that has been born from the Kissmeyer-Schwartz collaboration will be shared between the two parties, meaning there should be another Aussie beer making an appearance in mainland Europe – if there’s any left of course.
As Michael says with a smile: “We’ve got around 900 litres, but if it turns out as good as we hope and the brewers get stuck into it, maybe we’ll end up closer to 800 litres!”
We took the opportunity to ask Anders about the state of Danish craft brewing and why we’re seeing so many of his compatriots on these shores lately. The answer seemed to mirror much of what is happening in Australia.
“The whole scene is just growing so quickly” he says. “Around ten years ago there were probably no craft breweries in Denmark – definitely the lowest in Europe. Now there are around 120. With a population of only five million, that’s probably as many craft breweries per capita as you’ll find in any country.”
And as for this whole collaboration thing: “There is also a lot between brewers within Denmark and between Scandinavian brewers – actually between brewers from most neighbouring countries.”
While we’re not exactly next door, let’s just hope that Australia continues to be a destination for this growing band of gypsies.
Old and New
Anders isn’t the only international brewer sharing his expertise in Australia this week. Frank Pfeifer, head brewer at Weihenstephan, the oldest brewery in the world, is dropping in to Temple, one of the newest breweries in Australia, on Friday where they will be brewing Temple’s first wheat beer. The plan is for an eight per cent Weizenbock “with a twist” says head brewer Ron Feruglio, although he wouldn’t say what the twist was. We’ll be calling in on Friday while it takes place so will report back once we’ve beaten the answer out of them.
Something else we do know about but can’t tell you yet under pain of death is the identity of the special beer being brewed for the Australian International Beer Awards 20th Anniversary. Two Australian trophy winners from last year’s awards are getting together to create The Collaborator tomorrow, with the beer ready for release before Good Beer Week. Don’t forget, Good Beer Week also sees the launch of The People’s Pint. Voting is underway for the final six, which you can read all about here.