Two beers & two friends and a school kitchen brewery: The story of To Øl
Back in 2005 Tobias Emil Jensen and Tore Gynther were young lads studying at Det Fri Gymnasium – a direct democracy based high school in Copenhagen (detfri.dk) – talking to their teacher Mikkel Borg Bjergsø (Mikkeller) about the weird fact that most Danish breweries were continuously bawling about their scrap beers having been brewed for more than 100 years, rather than focusing on the actual taste and content of their brews: As if a stale lager ever has become less nauseous by the fact that it has been brewed for over 100 years?!
The three of them agreed that the only way to ensure the quality of beer was to brew the beers themselves.
And so they did.
Soon Tobias, Tore and Mikkel were allowed in the school kitchen facilities during closing hours and began turning the kitchen in to a brewing lab – and behold: Brewing began. The out of office-hours for brewing in the kitchen facilities meant that most brews were made between the hours of 10 pm and 6 am on weekdays. So both the two pupils and their teacher faced some hard school days. That despite, malts were mashed, hop leaves boiled, yeast was fermenting and bubbled within lab flasks and a hunt for potent quality beers had begun as well as a dedication to never compromise the taste.
Later Mikkel started the well-known brewery Mikkeller, which has garnered wide international recognition. Tobias and Tore continued to make home brews and in 2010 they were ready to make their first commercial brew and the brewery To Øl was founded.
Ever since To Øl has continued to make brews that pushes the boundaries of beers. The approach is always to use raw ingredients of the finest quality, never to compromise with taste, to remain oblivious to fashion or certain styles and to keep an open mind.
Despite the relative short lifetime of To Øl, the brewery has already gained a huge amount of positive attention in craft beer societies around the world and is being saluted for their non-compromises made with the quality brewing style.
To Øl entered Ratebeers list of Top 100 best breweries in the world in 2012 and 2013 – and in 2014 To Øl were awarded the worlds 9th best brewery (ratebeer.com/RateBeerBest ).
Today To Øl are exporting their quality beers to more than 40 different countries including Belgium, Czech Republic, UK, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Holland, Italy, Latvia, Poland, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Ireland, Hungary, Portugal, Austria, Lithuania, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Luxembourg, Croatia, Australia, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Mexico, Norway, Singapore, Switzerland, Taiwan, USA, Brazil, Thailand, New Zealand, South Korea, Russia, Iceland, and Belarus.
Let’s get this straight – To Øl is what’s called a gypsy brewery (or Pirate/Nomad/Contract/Gold Digger Brewery – whatever suits your fancy). Basically this means that we don’t own our own brewing facilities but lend in at other breweries with spare capacity.
Being gypsy is a trust bound marriage with the production facility. The relationship is built on experience, mutual understanding and a shared passion for quality and the desire for developing and pushing forward: Producing at breweries we have a long history with, insures consistency for the product. Producing at breweries we have no experience with, is eye-opening and develops new approaches. We try to do a nice mix of these two.
So – if you want to visit our brewery, it is not because we are impolite snobs that we decline your inquiry.
To Øl makes potent beers, packed with flavour and character. Beers you do not easily forget (unless you just had too many). At To Øl we make beers with an edge and with a drive and will forever prefer quality way over quantity.
We love session beers, we love complex beasty beers and first and foremost we love balance!
Our deepest wish in our humble hoppy hearts is to make the best beers in the world. We’re on our way and continue to strive for perfection on a thorough scientific basis and by keeping an open mind and loving the experiments – and the fortunate mishaps of brewing.
When To Øl was founded, the main vision for our brewery were emphasized in few simple catchphrases: Give beer some youth – is one of them: We’d had it with hundred years old breweries claiming territory only due to old age – old age withers; it does not necessarily improve the recipe.
At To Øl we do contemporary beer and we believe that you are never better than your last brew. We have no interest in copying beers from old breweries gone stale and we would instantly trash a beer if it turned obsolete or blunt.
As we’re witnessing how most young people’s preferred beverage is a syrupy-sweet fruit alcopop – even with “ice cold” as added ingredient – we truly believe that even young people want a good potent beer. At least we do. Even though it may make us sound as if we were one hundred years old.
Well, call me grandpa – but the years of improving brewing at To Øl shows us that adults of all ages enjoy the quality and strong taste variations of the hoppy brews of To Øl.
If pushing beers in bigger amounts forces us to compromise with the quality of the ingredients that we use, then we rather stop brewing beers. Never compromise with taste is one of the most important pillars of wisdom at To Øl.
Our goal is to provoke and push the boundaries for the very perception of beer. Meanwhile we just want to have fun doing it. We should never forget that we are making beer not politics!
We do think it’s fun to provoke, inspire and communicate through different kinds of media. But in the end it’s the quality of the beer that should tell the most interesting story, nothing else.