“What is your affair in Elsinore?” Hamlet asks Horatio in Act 1, Scene 2. “We’ll teach you to drink deep ere you depart.” Beer, clearly, has a very long history in Denmark. (And Danish influence on brewing has spread far and wide: witness the infamous Elsinore Beer from the movie Strange Brew.)
Carlsberg is Denmark’s largest brewery — in fact, it’s the sixth largest in the world. Founded by industrialist/philanthropist Jacob Christian Jacobsen in 1847, it’s also one of its oldest. And Jacobsen Original Dark Lager is based on the oldest recipe in the Carlsberg archives, Jacobsen’s own formula, perfected in 1854.
When one thinks of Carlsberg, of course, one pictures its flagship beer: a light and effervescent lager, glinting and golden. This one is different. Pouring a robust ruby-orange from its embossed bottle, its billowing beige head, sticking to the sides of the glass, hints at the thick and deliciously viscous liquid that lies beneath.
Although brewed in Copenhagen, this one has roots in Munich — it’s brewed with Münchenermalt from Germany and is modeled after a Munich-style dark lager.
It’s also historically accurate, with brewers having added salts and minerals to the water (which would have been present during Jacobsen’s time) and a batch of English “floor malt,” which was common practice for beers like these in the 19th century.
The proof is in the pudding: an aroma that’s sweet and very malty, prepping the taste buds for a complex beer that revels in hints of raisins, gingerbread, chocolate, caramel, and almonds. Ever so slightly, that pinch of salt is perceptible too, acting as a barely-noticeable balance to the swirling sweetness.
So, skål (“cheers”). Or, as they also say in Danish: bunden i vejret eller resten i håret. (“Bottoms up or the rest in your hair.” And, no, I have no idea why, either.)
Available for $6 for a 750-ml bottle at Downtown Wine & Spirits, 225 Elm Street, in Somerville. Call 617.625.7777.