The Mikkeller and Friends Bar in Copenhagen's Nørrebro neighbourhood is possibly the worldwide seminary school of beer drinking.
The first time I drank beer here was on the suggestion of a fiery red headed model and her American-Icelandic convert friend. It was a busy night in June, just before the summer solstice — the perfect kind of night to wind up in a Danish watering hole after a day of cycling around the city.
Around the world Mikkeller has become known as one of the world's greats. Of course, at this point, I had never heard of them, but the tight pants and black rimmed glasses around me indicated that I was on to something.
I tried a range of interesting beers from bitter to otherwise, much like I would have enjoyed trying different wines. By the end of the night I spoke fluent Danish, and could barely stand up, but was somehow still in the company of two beautiful women — one of whom I would escort to the local metro stop, and the other with whom I would spend the remainder of the evening drunk eating donuts at the local 7-Eleven before bidding each other adieu, and zig zagging my way back across the city in some drunken two-wheeled elation.
On my return to Copenhagen some six months later, I went straight to Mikkeller and Friends with only a quick stop at the hotel to shower. I asked the bartender, whom I recognized from my previous trip, about the curious name.
"Why is it called Mikkeller and Friends?" I inquired naively.
"Well," he said, "we are Mikkeller, and these (gestures to the remaining taps on the wall labelled with foreign breweries) are our friends."
It was that simple. The mystery had been solved. Not only does Mikkeller in Nørrebro serve their own delicious brew, they also bring in the best of what their friends have to offer. What a great concept. One that has now been echoed all over the world in craft beer circles far from Denmark, but likely started here.
This place, however, remains special. They have managed to infuse the Danish reputation for minimalistic flair into their beer, and no surprise here, into their space. The warm light and soft teal colours make for an inviting place to get lost in conversation, and drink the night away.
Chris Stenberg is a creative director, photographer, filmmaker, and traveller. In his spare time you can find him biking and boarding in the mountains of British Columbia.