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Stefan Holmén (left) and Jens Lynge Larsen (right) of Denmark’s Spybrew
Other Half. Bottle Logic. 3 Chiefs. These are some of the best acclaimed breweries in the country. And yet, the best beer I approved at Southern Grist’s Fourth Anniversary Festival in Nashville, Tennessee, didn’t appear from any of those (though they all accomplish absurd beer), but an operation alleged Spybrew.
If the name doesn’t arena a bell, don’t bang yourself — I’m a beer writer, and I’d never heard of it, either. Spybrew isn’t from the United States. They’re not alike from this continent. Rather, the two-man accouterments was built-in in the basement of a abode in Denmark, area they still accomplish artefact on a 200 liter (52.8 gallon) system.
You ability not get a adventitious to try “Codename LIGHT,” the German Helles Lager with smoked and peated malts that blew me away in Nashville, but you can alive vicariously through my acquaintance by account this account with Jens Lynge Larsen, the artistic apperception (and above Danish army officer) abaft Spybrew.
Kenny Gould: How did you get into brewing?
Jens Lynge Larsen: I started as a home brewer in 2003. That was due to a DVD I’d accustomed as a Christmas present from my above mother-in-law. The DVD independent a blow of two Danish guys assuming how to home brew, and I spent ten years experimenting.
KG: Back did you alpha brewing professionally?
JLL: I founded Spybrew in 2014. The brewery was anchored in my basement, and I got all the approvals from the Danish Health Authorities so that we could beverage the beers from there. It’s not the aboriginal aggregation that has started in a barn or a basement.
KG: Who away is complex in Spybrew?
JLL: Not continued afterwards I started, Stefan Holmén abutting as the Operations Manager. Because you can’t accept a brewery after an Operations Manager, alike in a baby operation like Spybrew. Stefan lives in Sweden and back the brewery is anchored in Denmark, I’m happy. He doesn’t appearance up all the time in the brewery. This allows me to beverage all kinds of beer styles on our small, 200 liter setup. Spybrew started out with alone 100 liter system.
KG: What did anniversary of you do afore Spybrew?
JLL: I was an army officer. Afterwards confined for 23-something years in the Danish army, I larboard in the following of the absolute beverage and the absolute beer. Stefan lives in Halmstad in Sweden. In accession to actuality the Operations Manager at Spybrew, he works as an IP consultant.
KG: What was it like to go professional?
JLL: The accommodation wasn’t adamantine to make. Here was the absolute befalling to amalgamate assignment and hobby. How abounding bodies accept that opportunity? However, to be safe, I took a one-year leave from the army, aloof to see if this beer adventitious would disentangle like it was declared to. At this time, the Danish beer arena was blooming and the Danish bodies – like in the States – were actual absorbed in ability beer instead of the big beer companies like Carlsberg.
KG: And how did the adventitious go?
JLL: The aboriginal brace of years were adamantine work, but if you appetite to alive out your dream, you accept to be able to accomplish some sacrifices. This was no different. Soon enough, the absorption in Spybrew beer grew and by absorption on alone a scattering of the best beer confined in Copenhagen, the appeal started to rise. This is still the case and generally we are out of beers alike afore it is kegged and bottled.
KG: What defines Spybrew? What are some of the altered things about your operation?
JLL: Spybrew is one of the abate breweries in Denmark. It’s not alike a microbrewery, but added like a nanobrewery. From day one, we’ve had the aesthetics not to borrow a lot of money and booty on investors. This gives us the befalling to set our own clip and we don’t accept to accommodation back it comes to allotment the appropriate capacity and so on. The downside of this is that we are still brewing on our baby 200 liter setup. But again, this has its advantages because we can beverage beer styles that ability not be absorbed or accepted in the Danish ability beer scene. However, the beer confined can’t accept New England IPAs on all of their taps. This gives us a abundant adventitious to beverage abandoned beer styles and to agreement a bit, back we’re alone authoritative 200 liters per batch.
KG: You assume to be actual able-bodied affiliated with abounding of the top American brewers. How did that happen?
JLL: Several years ago, both Stefan and I met Marcus from Brewski. He’s one of Sweden’s best — if not the best — brewers, and Stefan went with him on a cruise to the US. During this trip, Stefan met the brewers from 18th Street Brewery, Cycle Brewing, Angry Chair Brewing, and Aslin. Later on, we met the guys from KEX Brewing and Ægir Brugghus back we were in Iceland at the Anniversary Icelandic Beer Festival. From there, we met the guys abaft Collective Arts in Canada and were additionally arrive to be a allotment of their Liquid Arts Festival. It’s through these campaign away that we’ve met our American brewery accompany and maintained our beer-y friendships. And I should mention, about every one of the mentioned breweries are accommodating in the anniversary Mikkeller Beer Celebration Copenhagen, area the Danish brewery Mikkeller invites added than 100 breweries from about the world. It’s commonly during that beer anniversary that we do a lot of collabs at Spybrew with our American friends. The accord and association amidst breweries is altered and we adore every allotment of it.
KG: What is the Danish ability beer arena like? How does it alter from American beer, or alike added European beer scenes?
JLL: The Danish beer arena is actual abundant like the American beer arena back it comes to the absorption in hoppy IPAs. On the acerb side, we’re a few years behind, but the absorption is rising. Like Germany, Denmark has been a acreage of lagers for abounding years but the beer anarchy has somehow afflicted that. Still, lagers are accepting interest. As a brewer, that’s great, back they’re one of the best difficult and ambitious beers to brew. Brewing errors are abutting to absurd to hide.
KG: What is altered about Danish beer? Are there any types of beverages or styles that are aboriginal to Denmark?
JLL: It’s adamantine to say what’s altered about the Danish beer. You could say we accept an absorption in the aforementioned beer styles as you accept in the US, and conceivably that’s why we’re actuality arrive to the US with our beers. Denmark has a continued history of brewing and the regulations and laws are conceivably not that complicated like the altered ones you accept from one accompaniment to the other. History-wise, the pilsner was the go-to beer in Denmark afore the beer anarchy and absorption for ability beer exploded in Denmark.
KG: What does the approaching accessory like for Spy Brew?
JLL: At this actual moment, Spybrew is affective to a new ability which is bristles times bigger than the one we accept appropriate now. And yet, that’s still actual baby compared to the admeasurement of best US breweries. But the abundant affair is that we now are able to accept a alehouse in the brewery. This will accomplish it accessible for us to host beer tastings and added events. Hopefully, the Danish beer enthusiasts will acknowledge this, like we accept apparent during our visits to the American breweries. Our plan is to abide brewing with our baby arrangement for the abutting year or so afore we calibration up to a 1,000 liter setup. That will hopefully be up and active in a few years. Then we will be able to say yes to some of the countries that appetite to acceptation our beers – including the States.
KG: Back is the abutting time bodies in the US can try your beer?
JLL: We will appear Aslin’s Anniversary Festival, which we’ve abounding the aftermost two years. Besides that accident in mid-September, we haven’t appointed annihilation at this moment besides a scattering of accord brews in the US. But at these collabs, we commonly don’t accompany Spybrew beer. However, we will be accessory two altered beer contest in Iceland in June. So besides visiting our abundant accompany at Aslin, that would be the abode to aftertaste our beers besides advancing to Denmark.
-Interview edited for accuracy and brevity.
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