In the heart of Copenhagen, on a little rise (nothing in Denmark approaches a real hill) that catches the October sunlight, is one of the grandest and horsiest breweries we've ever seen. We spent the better part of a morning and noontime there, eating, drinking and looking at barrels.
it's mostly a show; the brewery was decommissioned in 2008, and the neighborhood (known as "Carlsberg-distriktet") is in the process of being developed into a livable space. Carlsberg's made a modern dance center out of their old mineral water building, and the bottling plant has become a conference and exhibition space; soon, apartments will begin going in. Still, beer is the dominant theme. A small brewery remains in use for specialty products, there's a museum, stables and a visitors complex.
It wasn't until later, though, that the brewing company became the giant that it is today. In the 1960's, the Carlsberg group began brewing internationally and snapping up competing brands - including Tetley, Baltika, Kronenbourg Lav, Mythos, various asian products and (Danish competitor) Tuborg. Still, it's the company's original beer that dominates the world, making Carlsberg the fourth largest beer company on earth. It accounts for forty percent of all beer sales in Russia and - as far as we can tell - is stocked in every supermarket from London to Tbilisi.
Outside in the insipid sunshine, we wandered in autumn garden and listened to the clomping of large hooves. There was a decorative hops greenhouse and a miniature version of Copenhagen's famous little mermaid statue. The day was warm, even a little beer was enough to feel sleepy.
J. C. Jacobsen famously had a "beautiful" chimney built for his brewery (the curving, many-detailed "winding smokestack") because he wanted to show the world that a factory could be more than just an industrial site. He wanted grandeur for his brews. And, in the movies that play in the museum, you can hear echoes of that old splendor. In one film, men sing lusty songs as they clean giant casks and harness elephantine horses - the songs sound almost nationalistic, anthems devoted to beer, as though Carlsberg were a nation unto itself.
At least the horses are still just as big.