Beer Reviews

Sct. Clemens Brewery (Denmark, Aarhus)

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I was invited to my friends in Denmark over the New Year, Aarhus to be precise, and decided to go for it – I’m growing a bit tired of the Edinburgh Hogmanay, anyway.  Thanks to our Irish friends I managed to get there quite cheaply, which is always a bonus. That said, I think I’ll stay away from Ryan Air from now on – but don’t worry, I won’t bore you with the details of my travel arrangements.

There is, to my knowledge, only one Danish distillery, and unfortunately I did not have the opportunity to visit it nor try their produce while I was there. My hosts are not the biggest of whisky drinkers – I don’t hold this against them, though, as they make up for it with a passion for beer. I’ve always been under the impression that not too many breweries existed in Scandinavia, and that the ones they do have largely produce standard lager (bleh!). Obviously there are some well known and noteworthy exceptions to this rule such as Nils Oscar, Mikkeller and Haandbryggeriet, to name one from each country, but on large… Well, I didn’t think they had much to offer.

As it turns out, though, I was wrong. Beer is apparently a growing trend in Scandinavia, and microbreweries are – or so I’ve been told – thriving. During my visit I had the opportunity to try several Danish beers, and I may come to write reviews of them all, but the most noteworthy experience was our visit to Sct. Clemens brewery. Sct. Clemens in situated right in the middle of Aarhus and offers a selection of 4 beers at any given time, all of which are brewed in the very room you drink them in. Seeing the massive mash tuns, coppers, and fermenters that your beer has been brewed in as you drink it adds a fantastic atmospheric quality to the experience, I loved it.

Atmosphere aside, a pub is only as good as the beer it serves – so do Sct. Clemens deliver the goods, I hear you ask? The short answer is: Yes. Oh god, yes. Though the prices were very steep from a British perspective (16oz, which is just short of a pint, came in at $11.40), the quality of their brew was outstanding. Quite often there is a trade-off between atmosphere and quality, if you go for an atmospheric pub that brews its own ale, I’ve come to expect the quality to be, on whole, lower- but such was not the case here.

Price aside, I tried all four brews on offer at my time of visit. I scribbled down some quick taste notes as I went along, but as it was a social occasion I didn’t want to spend too much time doing it, so you will have to excuse if they are somewhat lacking.

Sct. Clemens Tommy’s Stout – Slightly too bubbly for my liking, though the bubbles were nice and small; leaving it for 10 minutes made it much more drinkable. The nose was full of roasted malts and freshly ground coffee beans. The palate presented the same lovely roasted malts and touch of coffee along with some acidity which I hadn’t quite expected, but quite enjoyed. The aftertaste brought with it a lovely, faint, whiff of smoke.

My final score (all scores are out of 10) for this ale was 5.5 as served, 6.5 once the bubbles had been given a chance to settle down.

Sct. Clemens Julebryg – Oh deary me, the Julebryg. I wish I had one here and now. This was, by quite some distance, my favorite Sct. Clemens expression. The name means Christmas Brew, and it delivered exactly what you’d want from a Christmas Ale, in fact, it was the best Christmas Ale I had this year.

The nose was absolutely packed with roasted and caramelized almonds, with a slightly weaker but still very much present tone of sweet citrus peel. The palate continued in the same vein; first there was sweet citrus, then a lovely marzipan flavor that I truly hope to find in a beer more readily accessible in Britain. The feel of the beer was nice and soft, and quite thick. Absolutely outstanding, and dangerously drinkable.

My final score for Julebryg was 8. Now, this may not sound outstanding, but it’s one of the highest scores I’ve ever given – the highest for a seasonal beer.

Sct. Clemens Ale – Their standard British-style ale, so the menu told me. Once again I was surprised by the quality and sophistication of the brew. When first I put the glass to my nose I immediately exclaimed (slightly drunkenly, at this point) “Hah! Pineapple! Lots of it! Lovely.”  – needless to say, my drinking companions shot me a funny look. Once they’d had a whiff, though, they all agreed, which is a first. The palate carried some of the pineapple from the nose along with a more general sense of fruity sweetness, and a slight bitterness which balanced the sweetness nicely.

Final score: a healthy 6.

Sct. Clemens Pilsner – Ah, the one disappointment of the evening. It may be in part because I had this last, and it’s difficult for a pilsner to follow three lovely ales, but I really didn’t find much of interest in this. My notes are short and (not so) sweet: “like standard lager but slightly tastier. Nothing special. 3.5.”

Now, I would have to admit that I’d had more than three pints at that point (and the previous ales were, if memory serves, quite alcoholic – around 6-7%), so it may well be the Pilsner deserves a higher score than I have given it here.

To summarize, the Sct. Clemens brewery is very well worth a visit if you get the opportunity, even though the prices are a bit steep. My one complaint is that they serve the ales too cold, but that’s a matter of taste and easy enough to work around.

About Whisky Critic

My name is Martin and I live in Scotland. I love fine things in life, such as gourmet food, travelling around the world and, last but not least, whisky (naturally, I’m partial to a tipple of whiskey or bourbon as well). I have tasted hundreds of whiskies during the recent years and I finally decided to share my experience.

2 Comments

  1. Steffen Bräuner

    January 6, 2012 at 8:08 pm

    Hi Martin, a shame you didn’t came around for a dram , as I live in Århus as well 🙂

    We do in fact have (at least) 5 distilleries in Denmark. Here a some older blog posts of mine

    http://danishwhiskyblog.blogspot.com/search/label/Danish%20Whisky

    I know of 2 more distilleries making whisky (one for sure, the other possibly) so the numbers are growing

    Happy new year. I really want to try new year Hogmanay style one day !

  2. Martin

    January 9, 2012 at 9:44 pm

    Hi Steffen, many thanks for your comment. I’ll make sure to visit those distilleries next time – I’ll take up your dram offer, too 🙂

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