In Denmark, the annual J-Day (which is short for Julebryg Day) is one of the most anticipated dates of the year. Cause on the first Friday in November, the Danish brewers – big and small – traditionally tap their Christmas beers. And since Christmas ain’t just another holiday, they usually spare their richest and most aromatic creations for this occasion. For obvious reasons, it was only a matter of time till this tradition got acknowledged abroad, too. “Later on, all of Denmark will be celebrating Julebryg Day”, UeberQuell’s co-founder Axel Ohm said at the beginning of his own version of the J-Day. “And the southern enclave of Hamburg will be happy to chime in”!
UeberQuell’s take on the Danish beer fest started with a moderated degustation of three traditional delicacies from the Nordics. First, me and the other invitees sipped a shot of Jule Akvavit distilled by Aalborg. Second, we chowed a slice of buttered bread with sweet-marinated herring prepared by Brian “The Crazy Dane” Bojsen. And third, we drank a glass of Julebryg 2018 co-brewed by UeberQuell and The Man Behind. Each component of this 3-course menu was introduced to us by the people responsible for it.
The guided tasting started at 5.30pm with a talk by Aalborg’s master distiller Lars Kragelund. Among others, the studied food scientist told us what an akvavit is (a high-percentage distillate containing either caraway seed or dill seed) and why we should drink it alongside our dinner and not afterwards (because alcohol is a solvent that helps to release more flavors in a dish). Then, famous TV cook Brian Bojsen from Brian’s Steak & Lobster gave a fun crash course in Danish cuisine and a subsequent autograph session (we all got a copy of his cooking book “Lækker” for free).
Last but not least, brewing buddies Tobias Hess from UeberQuell and Anders Coisbo from The Man Behind treated us to a glass of their new Christmas beer. Using the same ingredients as they did in 2017, the German and the Dane decided to go for a less heavy brew this year. Consequently, the murky pour “only” clocked in at 5.5 per cent ABV rather than eight. It contained four different sorts of malts and a Japanese hops variety. For an x-mas flavor, it was enriched with star anise and coriander. The Julebryg 2018 had a slightly sparkling mouthfeel and offered chewy caramel, mild spices, crunchy cereals, yummy gingerbread and unripe yellow fruits. Comparatively light and lean-bodied, it obviously struggled to hold its ground against the stronger beers on the tap. When drank as a follow-up to its predecessor, for example, it felt a little lost. But when enjoyed on its own, it was pretty amazing!
From 7pm onwards, the actual party began. It did not take long until the brew pub was packed with visitors, many of which were of Danish origin. While cool tunes blasted out of the speakers, the festive folks chatted, laughed and drank UeberQuell’s own creations as well as the guest beers that Anders had brought along. In regular intervals, the bar staff mixed with the crowd and handed out free glasses of Julebryg and Jule Akvavit. When I left at 10.30pm, the spirits were high, the ale flew aplenty and there were no signs of the celebrations ending anytime soon. Earlier that day, Lars and Brian and Anders said independently of each other that the magic of J-Day lies in the fact that the akvavit and the food and the beer bring people together. They unite over the “skål” they share and spend a wonderful time with each other – just as UeberQuell’s guests did on November 3!
ÜberQuell @ Web: http://www.ueberquell.com/ (Craft Beer)
The Man Behind @ Web: http://themanbehind.com/ (Craft Beer)
Aalborg Akvavit @ Web: http://www.aalborgakvavit.dk/ (Akvavit)
Brian’s Steak & Lobster @ Web: https://brians-hamburg.de/ (Danish Cousine)
MuthKomm @ Web: https://muthkomm.de/ (PR Agency)
*** I was kindly invited to the event by UeberQuell & MuthKomm PR. ***