Lifestyle & Travel

Nov 1, 2017

THE BEER THAT BECAME A NEIGHBOURHOOD

It is not the most ordinary thing to happen, a beverages brand to grew up to the point of becoming a whole neighborhood, in the centre of a European capital: Copenhagen, in Denmark.

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By NAHAN SULEIMAN

At roughly two-and-a-half kilometers from the Centre of Copenhagen is growing a neighborhood built, from scratch, by the well-known brand of beers and ciders: Carlsberg.

When, in 2007, the well-known producer transferred the original factory away from the centre of the Danish capital, by lack of capacity to supply the Danish domestic market, the company found itself with a free space, for a total of 33 hectares, very close to the city centre.

The plans for the future of this area, were already being prepared and it was closed in 2008. Here will be born the Carlsberg City District, a neighborhood consisting of residential apartments, offices, gardens, at least one hotel, retail shops and cultural and sports areas.

According to the company's plans, the district will be completed and ready for opening in 2025. However, this has already become one of the most sought-after areas of the city for home and house prices continues to grow consistently.

In contrast to other former industrial areas remodeled, this area has not become a poor area, nor stupidly rich. According to the responsible of the brand, such would reflect badly on the philosophy of Carlsberg with the Danes.

The brand plan earned him the prize "Best Master" in 2009 at the World Architecture Festival in Barcelona, Spain.

The new construction will live with some ancient structures in brick and the famous Elephant Gate, built by Carl Jacobsen (son of the founder of Carlsberg) which represents his four children and still appears in some of the products of the brand.

We can then make the obvious question: how is it that a company of beers and ciders, though of international renown, can carry off an urban plan with such dimensions?

Projects of this size are difficult to approve in any part of the world, however, Carlsberg received approval easily. Firstly, because the company already had all the plans in order, as well as subsurface studies – fundamental to the approval of residential projects in spaces previously occupied by factories.

Then, because the city needed to create a new neighborhood in Copenhagen, and the directives of the Carlsberg project essentially aimed at the welfare of the population.

And, last but not least, because the reputation of the brand's founding family has a capital of goodwill on the part of the Danish population: Carl Jacobsen (son of the founder) offered the city a huge amount of art over the years – he even built, an art museum, the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, near the city centre – and the annual donations of 220 million Danish Crowns (almost 30 million euro) Carlsberg Foundation to science, make the company very well seen by the entire population.

Not to refer the enormous national pride.

Between the adoption of the plan, in 2008, and 2012, almost nothing was advanced in terms of construction due to the global economic crisis. During this period, the brand has sponsored several sports and cultural events, and invited numerous artists to whom they gave all the freedom to create whatever they wanted.

According to the story of Carl Jacobsen, well known to Danes, that would be something he surely would approve, since one of the mottoes of his life was: art doesn't have to produce immediate value, it has to produce story.

The Jacobsen's

One of the reasons that led Jacob Christian Jacobsen to established in 1847, the brewery on the outskirts of Copenhagen, was the altitude of the location (36 meters) and the consequent access to quality water.

He named it after the name of his son, Carl, to which he joined 'berg', hill in Danish and which is one of the features of this location, since Denmark is a flat land country.

Despite the fame of the Danes as the happiest people in the world, the story of the relationship between Jacob and Carl was marked by conflicts between father and son, filled with dramatic elements that could make a movie: love, betrayal, inheritances lost and recovered and family ties broken and reactivated.

As a young man, Carl was expelled from Carlsberg by the father, for disagreeing with a loving relationship that Jacob did not approve. The young man traveled through Europe for years, working in various factories to acquire knowledge of different producers of beer.

On his passage through Scotland, he fell in love with young Ottilia Stegmann, daughter of a prominent merchant who became his wife and decided to return to his homeland. Ottilia would fall into the good graces of Jacob, that saw in her a good influence on the son and this return occurred smoothly.

Workers and ambitious, father and son had very different visions of the world. Jacob Christian Jacobsen – which was connected to politics, having become a member of Parliament – wanted the Carlsberg to be an example to other factories, both by the work values, and for the financial success.

Carl, in his hand, wanted to make money to buy all the art he wanted. It was he who commissioned the statue of the Little Mermaid – a symbol of Copenhagen – from Danish sculptor Edvard Eriksen.

The relationship between the two went sour again when Carl went to work for the factory and created his first beer – an ale, a different style to which people were accustomed at the time – which didn't succeeded. So Carl asked for dad's permission to make also a lager like Carlsberg, so that it could finance itself (and thus buy more art).

The father refused and the son stole the recipe. Worse than the theft was that of cutting the probationary period from nine to six months – a sign of commitment to quality level, in the eyes of the father. It was the last straw for the father who gave Carl an ultimatum: either he made it his way, or he would leave the factory again.

Carl ignored the threat of the father – after all, as only son, who else could he leave the company? In 1876, Jacob Christian Jacobsen disinherited his son, leaving all to the Foundation –today still the majority partner of Carlsberg.

Still using his dad had license to create his first beer, Carl built a new factory (the Ny Carlsberg) 300 meters from the original. The two reconciled in 1887, shortly before the death of Jacob Christian Jacobsen.

Over time, the Ny Carlsberg has stagnated, remaining on the verge of bankruptcy. Carl then decides to donate his company to Carlsberg – already the largest producer of beer in Denmark at the time –, on the condition that he was the owner of everything. Thus arises the unified Carlsberg.

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