Christmas beer release fills up jails and emergency rooms

Police say revellers celebrating release of seasonal brew were more violent and disorderly than usual

Friday’s release of Tuborg’s Christmas beer, Julebryg, and the accompanying free samples at bars nationwide, resulted in a busy weekend for police and other emergency workers. Extra cops were called in across the country and others worked overtime in anticipation of problems during the annual giveaway introducing the high-alcohol seasonal brew.

In Copenhagen, police arrested revellers for fighting, public urination and destruction of property.

“This is always a busy day,” said Henrik Olesen, of the Copenhagen Police, to Politiken newspaper. “There are more people in town and there are always some who do not know how to behave.”

A fight at Søpavillionen, a nightclub on Copenhagen's Lakes, resulted in one man getting a glass smashed in his head, damaging an eye and an ear.

On Funen, twenty people were arrested and nearly the same number of drivers was stopped with a blood alcohol level greater than the legal limit of 0.05 percent.

“We could feel it was the day they started serving Julebryg,” said Jesper Pedersen of the Funen police to DR News. “We have had a lot of trouble, way more than we would see on a normal Friday.”

The number of arrests was also up Aarhus. Six of those arrested were charged with violence, including a17-year-old and a 50-year-old who hit an officer in the neck with a bottle. Others were arrested for disorderly conduct and threatening behaviour. Some of the more violent incidents resulted in trips to the emergency room for both the victims and perpetrators.

“It has been a busy night,” said Jens Rønberg from the East Jutland Police. “Much worse than usual, with more arrests. Our detention cells are filled.”

Violence, including domestic violence, was reported up throughout the country. Police had hoped that the chilly rain that fell in most of the country would put a damper on the celebration, but that turned out not to be the case.

The tradition of giving Julebryg away on the first day it is available – known as J-dag – started in 1990. Carlsberg, which owns the Tuborg label, offers free samples of the holiday brew to bars and cafés, and the company employs scantily-clad young women in blue Santa outfits to help hand out the free beer to customers. Signs promoting the day in early November that “the snow (beer) will fall” appear everywhere throughout October.

Carlsberg said that the day is an important part of the Danish Christmas tradition and should continue, despite the violence and police overtime it creates.

“The purpose of J-dag is to get people out for a fun night with friends,” said Carlsberg marketing head Kirsten Ægidius to Jyllands-Posten. “It is too bad that there are a few that would spoil it for everyone.”

Alcohol abuse experts have for years called on the company to stop giving away free beer on J-dag, but Ægidius said that the pubs must bear part of the responsibility.

“We do not decide how many beers they give away,” she said. Although Ægidius would not rule out cutting the practice of giving away free beer, she stressed that the tradition was about more than alcohol.


“We hand out more than just beer, “she said. “This year, for example, we gave out 84,000 elf hats.”

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