Once you’ve met Charlie, he’ll be a friend for life

If any of you have read Harry Potter youÂ’ll probably be familiar with HarryÂ’s local: The Three Broomsticks. ItÂ’s warm, crowded, welcoming and a little rowdy. With the exception of serving Butterbeer and Firewhisky, The Three Broomsticks has a lot in common with a little place in the city centre I like to call CharlieÂ’s.

Tucked away in a small hollow on Pilestræde sits this wee gem of a place – and I mean wee. ItÂ’s only 65 sqm and licensed to fit 60 people. Beer mats, some from 30 years ago, line the roof, while black and white pictures of old breweries and framed ‘ode to beerÂ’ poems plaster the wall, giving this place a class of its own.

It’s fair to say that Charlie’s really is in a class of its own. It’s one of only two places outside the UK to be awarded the Cask Marque – the equivalent of a Michelin star for beer. It’s no wonder then that Dave O’Neill from the ‘Campaign for Real Ale’ association writes: “It’s only a slight exaggeration to say that Charlie’s Bar has done for drinkers in Copenhagen what Noma has done for foodies.”

British owner Iain Russell began CharlieÂ’s 12 years ago as an alternative to the Carlsberg monopoly that gripped the country. “I wanted to tap into a vein that wasnÂ’t catered for – to serve good quality beer where the focus was on the customer and not how much money could be made,” says Russell.

Russell and his team personally source all the ales themselves from microbreweries across the UK – the focus being on independent breweries with heart and soul.

With six hand pumps, continental beers and the odd cider, thereÂ’s something for every discerning and non discerning local. All the pumps are imported from Britain – an extraordinary feat considering some breweries refuse to serve their ales 100km away in their own country.

Theakstons Lightfoot Bitter was a brilliant example of a great ale. Light and crisp, this straw-coloured ale uses a special malt to produce a ‘peach-likeÂ’ element.  And its low alcohol content made for extended sipping.

Another favourite was the port stout – matured in port casks – which showed off its rich flavours while flaunting an extremely creamy head. Adding to our list was FullerÂ’s Golden Pride, which was very rich in malt, and Tribute Extra, which is matured in bourbon cases that give it a very distinctive flavour.

We thought it only proper to try some of the more continental beers on offer too. DenmarkÂ’s very own Hancock Julebryg was a big favourite. Mild and well rounded, it boasts a 10.5 percent alcohol content so itÂ’s one to respect. And while the Weissbier on offer is another notable option, I would opt for a cider, the Old Rosy. It will put hairs on your chest.

The freshness of the brews is one of Charlie’s key ingredients that ensures it stands out from other pubs. After importation, Charlie’s give their ales a second fermentation right here in Denmark, which according to bar manager Gerard Gilmartin creates “the best representation of what the ale should taste like”.

Not just satisfied to serve some of the best ale in Denmark, CharlieÂ’s also serves up some of the best service. The barmen are more like long lost friends, and certainly have their wits about them when it comes to beer. And with only six tables in the place you make friends easily.

This is what makes CharlieÂ’s so successful – that and great beer, friendly staff, quirky locals and that cosy home away from home feel.  Russell acknowledges that their success has come from staying true to this grassroots pub culture. “CharlieÂ’s, like any pub, is a living breathing organism; itÂ’s a place for everyone regardless of age, class or social standing, where beer is the primary concern.”

May I suggest making CharlieÂ’s your new local?


Pilestræde 33, Cph k; open: Mon 14:00–00:00, Tue-Wed 12:00–01:00, Thu-Sat 12:00–02:00, Sun 14:00–23:00; price range: 40-50kr per pint; www.charlies.dk

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