A Danish phenomenon
Text: Heather Storgaard
Easter Beer is a seasonal beer produced for the spring that is slightly more alcoholic than regular beer. In recent years, new editions of Easter Beer have included EPAs (Easter Pale Ales) and Easter fusion creations such as Chocolate Beer. Denmark is claimed to be the world's leading beer producer, which certainly sounds impressive! In a bit of a reality check, however, it is essential to remember that this is because the love of seasonal beer is a Danish phenomenon. So, if you enjoy beer, keep an eye out for Easter Beer to add a Danish taste to your Easter celebrations.
As is the case with many kinds of beer, Easter Beer originated in Germany. The story goes that monks would drink stronger beer before their fasts for Easter to help them make it through. However, the beer's higher strength has been of concern for some time! Records show that the giving of Easter Beer was banned in part of modern-day Germany in 1385, as authorities considered it a security risk because drunken gatekeepers and lookouts couldn't be trusted under its influence!
Seasonal beer arrived at Danish brewers hundreds of years later, at the turn of the 20th century, Thor Bryggeriet in Randers leading the way, before Carlsberg started releasing Easter Beer in 1904. Since then, Denmark hasn't looked back! By the middle of the 20th century, motifs focusing on Easter themes began to appear on bottles, with rabbits or hares, chicks, eggs, and daffodils (Danish: påskelilje, lit. Easter Lily) representing Easter to consumers.
Danish beer culture
Beer and its importance to Danish culture and society are some things that shocked many internationals when they first move here. Even linguistically, beer plays a prominent role: in English, I would ask people if they wanted a drink, implying many choices, while in Danish, the question is always: would you like to get a beer? No other choice of tipple is to be considered here!
Regarding alcohol, Denmark treads a different path compared to its Nordic neighbours. In Norway, Greenland and Iceland, alcohol advertising is banned, while in Sweden and Finland, it is minimal. Danish-style marketing events and campaigns linking the time of year to the beer and including cute animals on bottles would not be allowed anywhere else in the Nordic region.
"Beer and its importance to Danish culture and society are some things that shocked many internationals when they first move here."
Easter beer recommendations
Tuborg is synonymous with Danish seasonal beer, available throughout the country and famous for cute packaging and big marketing campaigns. When I was a student, Tuborg Christmas Beer cans would be strung on strings and hung in our kitchen as low-budget Christmas decorations before being swapped for chicks at the arrival of påskebryg.
Do you have a local brewery? Supporting independent, small-scale breweries is supporting people and communities. My local is Ebeltoft gårdbryggeri, located in the picturesque countryside between Ebeltoft and Grenå. Their beautiful and delicious beers can be found across Denmark.
My father-in-law was so obsessed with Thisted Bryghus's Easter Beer that he kept a crate of it to drink as his beer of choice year-round. Situated in North-West Jutland in a beautiful 1902 building, this was one of the few Danish breweries not to be bought out by giant consortiums in the 1980s, when the alcohol industry across Europe saw significant changes. So it is well worth a visit for a tour.