:: disclaimer ::

this blog supports responsible drinking. you must be of legal age in your country of residence to continue on this site.


from L., lit. "water of life," 1471 as an alchemical term for unrefined alcohol. Applied to brandy, whiskey, etc. from 1547. Cf. whiskey, Fr. eau-de-vie "spirits, brandy," lit. "water of life."

Akvavit (also spelled aquavit or akevitt) is a flavored spirit that is produced in Scandinavia and typically contains 40% alcohol by volume. Its name comes from aqua vitae, the Latin for “water of life,” and is pronounced /AHKV?-veet/.


An apocryphal story holds that akvavit actually means “water from the vine,” a picturesque folk etymology derived through conflation of Latin vitae (genitive of vita) with the Italian vite (vine).

Monday, December 21, 2015

Countdown to Jul

Countdown...until Jul!
'88 Danish Dishes' (1936)
Tegning / Illustration

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Beer (Påske Bryg)

paaske header

Every year Danish beer drinkers wait in anticipation for the annual Easter Beer / PåskeBryg 
and this year is no exception. Personally, I have never been one for the beer. I have just loved
the great graphics that the season brings. Some labels are traditional while others are more modern.
Either way, if handed one I'd imbibe as much as the next.

Here are a few of the recent releases:

Today, Danish beer culture is celebrated with the tradition of brewing special seasonal beers. The two seasons whose holidays the Danes celebrate with their great brews are Christmas and Easter.  While the Christmas beer is reflective of the season dark, sweet and spicy flavors, the Easter beer is much like the springtime with a lighter and fresher taste.

danger women brewing Denmark has a long history with the art of beer making that predates Christianity. It goes back to their own Norse mythology with the goddess Freya who by virtue of her domain being the goddess of the harvest was also known as the goddess of beer.  Of course, only in the cold north would you find a woman in charge of love, fertility and yes, beer.  Given that women were in charge of the heart and hearth, it can be understood that she would also be in charge of this mysterious elixir made from grain, water, spices and yeast. 
viking woman brew The role of women as brew master of the home continued until the Reformation when their role in brewing gradually began to fade as beer became less a byproduct of food production and more a commodity. This was primarily due to the influence of the church and advent of merchant class.  The grow of commerce in the late 14th century with ‘the (male) merchants seeking to gain a monopoly on brewing  along with their control of the import of hops and German beer’ soon excluded the role of women.* By 1525, the first brewing guild was formed in Copenhagen increasing the role of men in the brewing industry and thus, reducing the role of women as the true brew masters.  Regardless of their once public role,  their age old private practice continued well into the 19th century for women in the countryside as common knowledge shared by all young brides in the kitchen.  Control of brewing by these only male guilds would last until 1805 when King Christian VII dissolved the guilds permitting the archaic industry to  expand into the many breweries we now know today.
The everyday brew continued to be a part of Danish food and drink culture from homemade brew on the farms to that found in tavern in the city. Yet, it would be the import of a rather special brew that would alter Danish springtime drinking habits. 95
Danish Easter (påskebryg) beer has a rather recent history arriving in the late 1890s as a local response to the popular German  Lenten beer import of Salvator (the Savior) double bock (doppelbock).  This special Easter brew was developed by Paulaner monks (1600s) in Munich as old monastic strong beer reward for their fasting between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday.  Given their belief that liquids cleansed the soul they became known for making more than their fair share of the fasting brew (fastbier). This beer became an odd cash crop for the monks and with time trouble, taxes and talk caused the brewery to fall into disuse by 1806.  With a new owner and permits in hand, by midcentury the old recipe was back in circulation and finding further distribution to it’s drinking neighbors.**
The end of the 19th century saw their  monastic brew becoming a common enjoyed export to the north during Lent.  It became such a popular annual event in Copenhagen that the local breweries had no choice; but, to figure out how to compete. Thus, the first major brewery to mass produce the seasonal ale was Carlsberg in 1905 (Tuborg 1906) on draft and it was not bottled for purchase until 1935.  Since then, it has become an annual production run by every Danish brewery both big and small…and a part of every Dane’s Easter brunch and springtime meals.
Danish seasonal beer is highlighted by flavor characteristics:
http://www.olakademiet.dk/page.asp?pid=72&mid=4&sub=1&fid= (Danish)
imageFoam: It has a white , cream / cream to cafe au lait color. It has a fluffy to creamy consistency with a long shelf life.
Color: From straw yellow to black coffee. From clear to unclear
Aroma: Corn, malt, beans, hops, caramel, sweets, nuts, fruits (currant, plum orange, citrus)
Taste:  Sweet

Danish Beer Statistics
Påskeøl (Easter beer) is usually tax category II strength beer which indicates the beer’s higher alcohol content.

Symbols of spring’s fertility were readily adopted over religious symbolism of resurrection by the seasonal special brews with the usage of lilies, rabbits, eggs and spring chicks on their beer labels.  Though one could argue that awakening from a hangover could be tantamount to an imbibed resurrection.
These labels show a beautiful sense of cultural brewing history as seen through their graphic design.

Click here for a wonderful catalog of additional Danish Easter beer labels.

 http://www.carlsbergmalaysia.com.my/web/images/experience/img_tt_4a.jpgcourtesy of  Carlsberg + Tuborg
One of Denmark’s most successful advertisement campaigns has been by Tuborg over the years with their little yellow chick (kylle, kylle) as it’s mascot going back to the late 1950s (see below).
image image image
Today, Danish Micro-breweries are common and even, organic (økologisk). These are both commercially produced brews like the one by the Danish Department store Magasin (see below) or private local brews like the other two below.
 Magasin Påske Øl  http://www.herslevbryghus.dk/index.php?page=oktober-bockimage
Even, current advertisement trends at kollegiums have picked up on utilizing familiar symbols of the season. This one says to the right, “there will be free Easter beer as long as it lasts.”
obelnet.dkcourtesy of obelnet.dk

courtesy of visitsydvestsjaelland.dk
A typical three-course brunch includes:
Fish Course
(Various Herring, Hard Boiled Eggs, Shrimp, Tuna, miscellaneous other cold meat dishes)
Meat Course
(lamb or chicken, potatoes, pickled condiments)
Cheese Course
(various cheeses, grapes, red peppers, crackers)…all served with Danish Easter Beer (påskebryg) and akvavit (snaps) 
God Påske : Happy Easter! 

paaske footer
*Medieval Scandinavia: an Encyclopedia. Pulsiano, Phillip and Wolf, Kirsten. 1993
** Doppelbock/German Beer Institute.
Women’s Work/Brewess
Food and Diet in the Viking Era
So, the next time you have a beer – don’t just thank your server. Thank all us women for our early role in making this current brew possible for you…Skål!
Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Musings 01

"i don't cry over spilled milk...only spilled vodka or akvavit."