Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Apollo Greed

Last Sunday I headed to Copenhagen; actually a long trip from Münster as you have to get two trains to Düsseldorf airport, which just drags even though it only takes an hour and a half. We arrived in Copenhagen on schedule, but the bags took a long time to come out -- about 50 minutes -- eating seriously into my drinking time. I guess the timing was bad as it was the end of a week long holiday period in Denmark, so the airport was packed. It's a nice airport mind you. At least the bits that look like a shopping mall are nice to walk around, but man things are slow there!

I finally got to my hotel, the Grand Hotel on Vesterbrogade, right beside the central railway station. How come hotels with the word Grand in it are always like beers with the word Premium in them? The room was small and a little worn, but I must say the location was excellent, and they had free Internet. More of that please.

I had originally intended to make a beeline for Nørrebro Bryghus, based on the experiences of my friends, but as it was well after nine at this point, I just wanted to head to the nearest decent drinking hole and get a beer and some food into me. The nearest place was the Hard Rock Cafe, but I easily dodged that to the next one, Bryggeriet Apollo, just beside the Tivoli ticket office.

First of all, to be fair, bear in mind what I said about this being the last day of a weeks holiday in Denmark. People were clearly tired or had no money to spend, because the place was empty. Arriving in a bar in the centre of a European capital at 9:30pm to find about 6 people in the place isn't great. As no staff were around to direct me to a table I ignored the "please wait here" sign and grabbed a seat where I could have a good gawk around. I then had to get up and ask someone if I could actually get food and drink. I could.

I thought the place felt a bit soulless, even with it's pale wood, glass bits, coppers on display and a fairly relaxed layout to it. But then it was dead, and the service was slow, making things drag out. I imagine it's much nicer on a summer afternoon with a bit of a crowd.

I started with their Pilsner, rather dark for a pilsner, edging towards a pale amber. Quite appealing looking actually. It had a fresh, fruity nose, with strawberry and citrus notes. The head was almost creamy, and the mouthfeel was soft, with low carbonation. I was wondering it there was nitro involved, or was it a bit more natural. The flavour mirrored the aroma, with the addition of a sweet, fresh bread base. A reasonably strong hop flavour kicks in after a few swallows, slightly fruity, but enjoyable.

I liked the look of the Agger Bajer, despite it being named after a footballer, a dark mahogany brown top-fermented beer with cascade hops. The aroma on this was slightly yeasty, with a caramel-like backdrop. Unfortunatley the flavour just didn't live up to my expectations, being more like drinking detergent. The slight chocoloate notes that managed to emeerge from behind this unpleasent taste just couldn't make up for it. Maybe it was the strong mustard on my Nürnberger Würstchen, but I bloody doubt it.

I hoped the Dark Ale, which was on special, would bring me back to happy beer land. The aroma was certainly interesting, sweet and chocolately, like cheap kids chocolate candy, and a nutty note running through it. Flavourwise it was about the same; a candy-like, smooth caramel and very slight rasted edge coming in at the end. An unusual beer that tasted like those gold foil-wrapped chocolate-toffee coins in liquid form. Actually, that's exactly what it tasted like. Curiously enjoyable, but in a strange way.

At this point I had enough of the slow service and determined to head across the sqaure to Brewpub, the next closest... well... brewpub, I suppose. It's only today that I realised how much I was paying for everything, much to Mr. BeerNut's enjoyment I think. Man is this city expensive for beer, but I digress. At this point it was 10:45, and the place was shut. In fact it had been shut all day, but I guess I hadn't done enough research. Again, I just don't understand that pubs might close on a Sunday in a European capital.

I reckoned it was a sign, and headed back towards the hotel with the intention of preparing for my meeting the following morning, but could I make it past the Hard Rock Cafe? Not this time. I had to go in on the off-chance that there might be something interesting amongst the Carlsberg and Tuborg taps. Not really, but I settled for a bottle of Leffe Bruin and put up with the cooler than cool bar staff. This fuelled me the last 50 metres to the hotel where I did get some prep work done, and then watched crap TV for too long. Even then I couldn't get to sleep because of the marauding band of kids sweeping the corridors. Luckily they stopped before I made the final transition into a grumpy old man. I'm not even middle-aged, I swear!

Actually, I probably am...


Anonymous said...

Hi there. Ouch.. Apollo is not even among the top-20 best beer oulets in copenhagen. If in that particular area i would suggest taking the extra 300 to 500 metres to the bar called ørsted. Or perhaps globen next door to ørsted. I think it is allowed at globen (i've done it several times) to bring fast-food bought around the corner. At Ørsted you will find a nice selection of internationals (think pizza port, yeti stout etc.)

Also BrewPub is within striking distance from apollo, and their beers are surely much better and much less of a tourist-trap.

Don't ever go to vesterbro bryghus (opposite apollo) worst brewpup in cph, if you judge by the flavor of the served beer.

Few times i went to apollo i got decent food. their food is okay, and the beer concept too - it's just like they really didn't notice that the bar has been raised way higher reg. what is considered good brewpubs in cph.

lord nelson (smoking) recently installed a 2-tap cask thingy and now serve british cask (micro cask of course). charlies (non smoking) not far from that has specialized in british beer. (and lots of cask).

Hope you'll get back to cph sometime and discover the beer treats awaiting. Here's a link to major cph sites (http://www.ratebeer.com/Places/FindPlacesByCity.asp?SortBy=2&CountryID=58&StateID=0&City=Copenhagen) list is sorted by popularity with reviews and all.

greetings from ratebeer nick pinball , living 25km's north of copenhagen.

oh - btw. if interested in some in-person beer trading next time you're up north, i should be able to get you some very interesting danish stuff in exchange for german stuff i haven't rated yet.

The Beer Nut said...

The best thing about beer-and-travel blogging is all the great advice you get after you come home.

I swear if Edmund Hillary had blogged his ascent of Everest the first comment would say that there's a cable car to the top round the other side.

Barry M said...

Indeed :D

In fairness, I didn't have high hopes about Apollo anyway, from what TBN told me, but it was the closest to my hotel and fulfilled my need to try something new. And it certainly felt far from being a tourist trap it was so damned empty. But then the whole city seemed to be in hibernation. As I mentioned in my post, Brewpub was closed on Sunday, but I did make it the next day. More of that later :)

I certainly hope to be back to Copenhagen and to have more than an hour here or there to spare, so I can explore the beer world a bit more. And there's alot of ground to cover! :) It all depends on winning a contract, and then I'll be a regular. So, even late advice may become useful ;)

The Beer Nut said...

Now that's motivation!

Yeah, Apollo was also pretty empty on a balmy night in August as I recall.

Oh, and great title :)

Mike Ring said...

"How come hotels with the word Grand in it are always like beers with the word Premium in them?"

Priceless. Between that comment and Beer Nut's Edmund Hillary comment I just about blew beer out my nose.

Barry M said...

I liked the Hillary comment too. But still, all tips are welcome! :D