Has beer and is a bar: what’s not to like?

Ask any international friend what clichés they think of when asked about Denmark, and they will probably come up with four things: pastries, Vikings, Hamlet and beer. The Scandinavians simply can’t get enough of the syrupy brown stuff, which they’ll able to buy virtually any time of day, be it from corner shops or workplace canteens. If your thirst isn’t being quenched by the standard, green can stuff, a small bar just north of the lakes may have the goods to wet your whistle.

On Nørrebro’s bustling Elmegade − surrounded by shawarma joints, charity shops and hip fashion boutiques – lies Ølbaren. Danish for ‘the beer bar’, it’s a blunt, borderline arrogantly titled watering hole that certainly lives up to the name.


After being hypnotised by the glowing red ‘ØL’ sign outside, you enter the bar to the sounds of uproarious laughter and bottles clinking. It’s a modestly sized, no-frills bar, with half a dozen tables and chairs to one side, and on the other, beer guzzlers plonked down on bar stools, excitedly perusing the selection of drinks on offer like a spoilt child on Christmas morning.


When there’s this much variety, who can blame them? At any one time, Ølbaren has a 50-strong inventory of multinational bottled and on tap beverages. From Smoked German Doppelbocks and Belgian sour beers, to 17 percent Dutch Barley wine and the lighter, 4.6 percent Weissbeers for, what the friendly bartender Stella described as, “the girly, softer palate”. The prices range from a modest 35kr for a bottle of Amager Nyhavn Brown Ale to 250kr a pop for a Belgian Bush Prestige (75cl), for when you feel like treating yourself. Best of all, the bar works on quick rotation, meaning they often experiment with whatever new beer they can get their hands on (a Crème Brulee stout from New York sounded right up my street, but it sold out in a flash and is now a thing of legend). 


Fear not, beer naysayers. If the brown stuff isn’t your drink of choice, there’s also a small selection of matured bourbons, sharp gins, sweet rums, cider and juices for your delectation.


As Copenhagen’s first ever artisan beer bar, its ten years of trade has meant that the brotherly proprietors, Lars and Ulrich, have been hugely influential on the city’s bar scene. While the pair spend their time travelling the world and picking up exciting new tipples to bring back here, they are dedicated to supporting the local brewing talent Copenhagen has on offer, with the bar stocked full of the latest sauce from the prodigious Mikkeller and the new kids on the block at Stronzo Brewing Co.


Despite the many beer connoisseurs who regularly frequent this cosy little establishment, the bar staff and owners are passionate about inviting newcomers into the wonderful world of beer. So much so, they’ll even provide you with an ‘on-demand’ service, whereby a specialist can come to your table at the bar, or even to your workplace, and set up a tasting session. While the 500kr price tag may sound like a lot, considering the quality of the eight to ten beers you’ll be served, you’ll certainly leave as a merry, satisfied customer.


Unlike some of the snooty wine bars and watering holes that are cropping up across the city, Ølbaren is an incredibly down-to-earth establishment. The ebullient atmosphere, friendly mix of internationals and local clientele, notorious quiz night and, above all, the brilliant beer make this humble haunt a place worth visiting.



Elmegade 2, Cph N; open Mon 21:00-01:00, Tues-Thu 16:00-01:00, Fri 15:00-01:00, Sat 13:00-01:00, Sun 13:00-23:00; 3535 4534, mail@oelbaren.dk; www.oelbaren.dk