Carlsberg Breweries, Copenhagen

England has Big Ben. America has Lady Liberty. France has Eiffel Tower. Denmark? She has four Carlsberg elephants. Carlsberg Breweries in Valby (Southwest of the city-center) won’t be in my travel list if Kirsten didn’t recommend it vehemently. They are so diminutive for a conglomerate of such size, and it’s easy to miss this gate. Even the bus to the visitors centre doesn’t go past the gate so we had to walk to admire the Carlsberg elephants. (Only taking the visitor’s bus is recommended since it is 45 minutes walk from the nearest train station.)

These four magnificent statues (in fact they are carvings) form the gate that leads to the main entrance to the Carlsberg brewery. Completed in 1901, they symbolize four sons of the Carlsberg founder Ottalia Jacobson, and bore the initials of those four sons. On the elephants are the Swastika symbols, wishing health and prosperity to these four surviving sons of the tycoon. The Carlsberg Breweries itself used the symbol until the Nazis corrupted the symbol in the late 30s.

The Carlsberg Visitors Centre has nice exhibitions about the brewing of beers and the history of the Carlsberg-Tuborg Brewery. The entrance fee is cheap at 50 DKK (about 7 Euros) and include two beer tastings. However, it’s not a guided tour, and we had to follow the signs through the exhibitions halls, the stables, mews, garages with old beer wagons. The tour takes about 2 hours and inevitably ends in a small gift shop. Next to the shop is the beer tasting bar; but, it seems strange to me that some of the Carlsberg beers can only be tasted here and not sold anywhere in the world. One note of caution is that Carlsberg’s signature the Elephant Beer has twice the alcohol content as regular beer.

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