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Over the last couple of years To Øl, the gypsy brewer from Copenhagen have become my favourite international brewery. Replacing Mikkeller, with whom there are a lot of similarities in both the style of beers they produce and the way they produce them.
It’s not surprising really since Tobias and Tore of To Øl and Mikkel of Mikkeller were friends who learnt how to brew together before starting their respective breweries.
It left me with a tough decision to make when it came to choosing which advent calendar to go for, Mikkeller or To Øl. In the end, I just couldn’t decide and wanted both. Well, it is Christmas!
Unfortunately, the first edition of the ‘To Ølekalender’ sold out in under an hour.
There were rumours of a second edition but it was getting closer to December and I was worried they weren’t going to appear. I dropped an email to the To Øl Webshop and was amazed to receive a reply from Tobias himself assuring me that there were definitely more calendars coming and he’d let me know when.
A few days later he did exactly that! There were some further complications with the ordering process, which Tobias also personally helped me with but eventually my order was complete.
And the parcel finally arrived with a day to spare (phew).
It was well worth the effort. Not only was the box incredibly well packed but every bottle was individually wrapped too. First in bubble wrap and then in brightly coloured paper with a number for each day of advent.
Day 01: Sundancer
Session Pale / 2.8%
A very tasty session pale. Regular readers will know I have a tendency to enjoy higher ABV drinks in general, but I’d happily drink this regularly.
Day 02: Hop Love Pils
Pilsner / 4.5%
To Øl brew a lot of pilsners but not many of them actually taste like a pilsner in the traditional sense.
Like Hop Love Pils which is so well hopped it’s basically an American style pale. For me, that’s a very good thing.
Day 03: Hundelufter Bajer
Session IPA / 5%
I like to think I’m pretty clued up on To Øl beers but I’d never seen nor heard of this one before.
It’s a very enjoyable, fairly light IPA. I love the label too.
Day 04: Coral Seas
Gose / 5.4%
Collaboration with my favourite UK brewery, Buxton.
Coral Seas is a Gose brewed with seaweed. It’s very drinkable, not too sour but full of lemony zing with a well-balanced touch of salt.
Day 05: Liquid Confidential
Imperial Stout / 12.2%
Wow, what a beer to get after only five days!
An imperial stout brewed with chipotle and ancho chillies aged in Rhum (I’m assuming that’s the Danish spelling of rum) barrels.
It’s big, boozy and spicy. A perfect winter beer.
Day 06: Blossom
Wheat Beer / 6.3%
A modern, American-style wheat beer brewed with bags of U.S hops and six types of flowers including hibiscus, marigold and rose.
Making a delightful, slightly dry and very floral drink.
Day 07: Maj Pilsner
Pilsner / 4.3%
Another decent pilsner, this one was quite citrusy upfront with a spicy, peppery finish.
Day 08: Markedspils
Pilsner / 5%
Oh, another pilsner.
This was by far the least interesting beer so far. Just a slightly hoppy pils, nothing more. It probably shouldn’t have followed a pilsner the previous day.
Day 09: Sofa King Pale
American Pale / 4.7%
To Øl do these kinds of American pales so well. There’s nothing fancy about them, they’re just well made, tasty hoppy pales.
Day 10: Snowball
Saison / 8%
Proving that Christmas beers don’t have to be sweet, malty or full of spice.
This crisp, dry, well-hopped saison was excellent.
Day 11: Liquid Confidence
Imperial Stout / 12.3%
The regular version of Liquid Confidential, the Rhum barrel aged beer I got the week before.
I really enjoyed both versions but think I’d have preferred to try the original first.
Day 12: Sur Amarillo
Sour / 7.5%
I love this ‘Sur’ range of sour pales.
The Nelson Sauvin and Citra versions are both up there in my beer of the year contenders. I didn’t enjoy this one quite as much as those two, but it’s still a very lovely beer.
Day 13: Reparationsbajer
American Pale / 5.8%
Reparationsbajer means ‘recovery beer’ as this is designed to get rid of hangovers, apparently.
I can’t confirm that it works but it did taste good.
Day 14: Sur Yule
Sour / 5.4%
It took two weeks to get to the first festive beer but it was well worth the wait.
A vivid red, Christmassy sour pale. Brewed with fresh cherries.
Day 15: By Udder Means
Milk Stout / 7%
I was very happy to receive one of my favourite milk stouts of the year on day 15.
Day 16: No Regrätze
Grätzer / 4%
This was perhaps the most interesting beer. I wasn’t familiar with the traditional Polish beer style, Grätzer.
Essentially it’s a lightly smoked sour. It was delicate and refreshing, ideal for a hot summers day.
Day 17: Cloud 9 Wit
Witbier / 4.6%
A fruity wit brewed with mango and orange peel.
Day 18: Jule Maelk
Imperial Stout / 15%
A big, 15% imperial stout.
A milk stout that’s almost too sweet for me but just about stays on the right side. It’s incredibly smooth and delicious and insanely drinkable for its ABV.
Day 19: Goliat
Imperial Stout / 10.1%
Unlike when I got two pilsners in a row, I wasn’t complaining when I received a second imperial stout in as many days.
This one was also quite sweet, having been brewed with raw cane sugar but it was contrasted by bags of coffee flavour.
Day 20: Mikropolis
Pilsner / 5.6%
Probably about as good as a gluten free pilsner is ever going to get.
Day 21: Black Ball
Porter / 8%
I liked this last time I had it but felt it was a bit too hoppy for a porter, verging on Black IPA territory.
I was pleased that the hops seem to have been toned down now and it’s all the better for it.
Day 22: Stalin’s Organ
California Common / 6%
Another To Øl beer I had somehow missed. California Common, or steam beer, isn’t a style I’m particularly fond of but in typical To Øl style it was more hopped than the norm.
More interesting than the beer itself is the name, which is a nickname for the Soviet Katyusha rocket launcher, basically a weapon of mass destruction.
The striking label art lists the various wars in which the weapon has been deployed.
Day 23: LikeWeisse
Berliner Weisse / 3.8%
I was underwhelmed the first time I had this beer and it didn’t fare any better the night before Christmas Eve.
It’s just a bit too light and weak for me. It’s not sour enough either.
Day 24: Shameless Santa
Belgian Strong / 10%
We finished on a high though with Shameless Santa, a lovely strong and dark Belgian ale. And 750mls of it too!
Although I enjoyed virtually all the beers, there were a few too many pilsners for my liking in the To Øl advent calendar.
I felt the Mikkeller calendar was more consistent and had a better range of styles but To Øl had the best big beers and more of them too.
I also loved the thought that went into what days of the week the beers fell on. For example, all of the big imperial stouts were either Friday or Saturday nights, unlike Mikkeller who dropped 13.1% Black Hole on a Monday.
Ultimately though, it’s difficult to choose between them and it was great to have both calendars. I’ll happily do the same again in 2016.Follow @BeerGeekBlog Follow @FoodGeekUK