ÅBEN: From Copenhagen to the world
By Tina Nielsen | Photos: Jonas Pryner
The world is about to find out about ÅBEN, a small brewery whose short history is already an impactful one.
Anybody passing through Copenhagen Airport this autumn should look out for a new venue for their pre-flight beer. The small Danish brewery ÅBEN will open its own bar serving a selection of craft beers, including its speciality of fruity sours and hoppy IPAs, to thirsty travellers.
Launched in 2017, ÅBEN may be a young brewery, but it has grown rapidly, starting out in the childhood home of founder Philip Hulgaard.
Before launching his venture with childhood friend Johannes Karstoft, Hulgaard had zero experience in brewing. Feeling frustrated by his career in law, he sought a new project that he could enjoy and turn into a business.
After a few mediocre first attempts, the two set out on a journey of discovery. “The best way to learn is to observe others, so we reached out to industry colleagues, and every brewery greeted us with open arms,” he says. This receptivity in the industry inspired the name of the brewery: ÅBEN, meaning ‘to be open’.
ÅBEN brews a range of beers, but it has made its name with fruity and sour beers. “There are many craft breweries in Denmark that make excellent beers, but when we started, not many were focusing on the fruity sours,” says Hulgaard. “This type of beer also appeals to people who are not traditional beer drinkers, those who might have thought they don’t like beer.”
The brewery was always destined to be about more than beer production and from the start, emphasis has been on creating experiences around beer. Today, all beers are produced in central Copenhagen, where guests can enjoy beers on the spot in the tank bar or for dinner at the onsite restaurant.
“It is an immersive experience – guests sit alongside the fermentation vessels and enjoy our beers tapped directly from the serving tanks together with food from local restaurants which changes every month,” explains Hulgaard. “The idea of the space is centralised in keeping with our philosophy to be open in all aspects.”
In addition to retail sales and brewery experiences, ÅBEN has several bars across Denmark, a beer festival named KALAS as well as being behind the festive music festival O Days. Next is expansion in Scandinavia and beyond. But first up: serving beer to the world in Copenhagen Airport.
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