Quality ⇆ Sustainability ⇆ Community
We exist to brew amazing beer. And we want to create the best possible conditions to do just that. In order to track and control the flavours throughout the production, we farm our own organic barley and wheat in the fields surrounding the brewery. Our method for harvesting crops of a superior quality is quite simple: We care for the soil through gentle, circular farming, and we rely on our local community to use all our shared resources.
Our local community is essential to make it work. We each have our different skills; it’s not the brewmaster nursing the cattle. The skilled farmers at Østagergaard do that. They also grind the flour we use to bake bread in our farm shop — and they use our spent grain (the malt-based bi-product from beer brewing) as an organic feed supplement for our grazing cattle. Not only is this an effort to keep the feed energy-neutral (the spent grain originates from the same fields where the cattle graze). It also heightens the quality of the soil and the crops. To us, economy, quality and sustainability are mutually dependant.
We collaborate with several more local manufacturers to get the greens, the kraut, the beer-based vinegars that we use in our cooking and sell in the farm shop. Together, our ambition is to make Herslev an epicenter for sustainable, solidary food production.
2004: This is Tore. He just wanted to brew a bit of beer.
Tore Jørgensen lives on a farm in Herslev, surrounded by barley and wheat fields. He’s lived here for many years. Fourteen years ago, in the midst of a bland career as investment controller, he gazed across his fields. Fate must have blown through the barley so it billowed extra sweepingly for a second there, and inspiration struck Tore like a bolt of lightning: He should immediately cease to be an investment controller and instead brew beer with the grains from his fields. As it goes when you’re struck by inspiration, Tore acted immediately. He bought the equipment, tank and tap, roasted barley to malt and started brewing.
Tore is a modest and careful man. He would’ve preferred to nerd discreetly, at least to begin with. But little birds must have chattered in the spring of 2004, because quite instantly everybody knew that something brewing at Tore’s farm in Herslev. Neighbours and strangers rolled up in the yard, bringing their own bottles and containers, and tapped his beer directly. Everything was sold immediately. The dream of a new and better beer tradition in Denmark had rocketed into reality. That same year, Tore received the annual Danish beer award for his commitment to heightening the national beer quality.
2011 - 2014:
We go organic
In 2011 the first organic seeds were planted. From the moment the seeds were in the soil to the moment we could rightfully call ourselves certified organic brewers, three years passed. The first harvest provided us with the grains for malt whose by-product could become organic cattle feed. As soon as we got the organic cattle grazing our fields, they participated in the journey by fertilizing the crops organically. What simultaneously happened was that crops tasted better and better. It turned out, gentle, circular agriculture was excellent for brewing good beer. In 2014 we were completely organic, with a few exceptions: When we make seasonal beers like Birk (Birch) or Hyben (Rosehip), we prefer to use the birch and rosehip that grow along the beach 200 meters away. Likewise with the honey in our Rye Beer; we prefer to use the local over the organic.
2015: HAY. Our own fields, 100%
By that headline we mean that we wanted to make a terroir beer. It’s s term from the world of wine. “Terroir” is about expressing the environment in which a wine is produced through the wine’s character: the climate, the soil type, the topography and so on; the spirit of an area so to speak, crystalized in a flavour. We wanted to see what pure Herslev would taste like.
Since hops don’t have optimal growing conditions in the Danish climate, our terroir beer couldn’t be brewed with hops. We needed something else to balance the sweetness of the malt (which is usually balanced with the bitterness of hops), and we decided to use hay as the flavour base; or, more specifically, spontaneously fermented hay cultures. The spontaneous fermentation has a wild acidity, reminiscent of natural wines, and we’re very proud of the new beer invention, Herslev HAY Wild Fermentation Sour Beer.
(But of course, we still adore hops, and still brew lots of hop beers)
2018: A part of Herslev
Since turning organic, we’ve cooperated with Østagergaard (who take care of our cattle, the great fertilizers.) Long before the cooperation was formalized, Østagergaard used our spent grain, because it was just common sense it shouldn’t go to waste. And in exchange, we’ve had our flour ground at their mill and had their cattle graze our fields. Carsten Hansen from Østagergaard is running a programme for vulnerable members of society. They help run the farm, and they also help us here at the brewery.
To infinity and beyond: What's the plan
Circular economy, benefitting soil and product, has proved to be a sound business strategy for us (and we do want to make money). It has actually proved so sound that we’ve now formalized and named our collaborative efforts. We call ourselves En del af Herslev (A part of Herslev). Mikkel Friis-Holm, award-winning chocolate maker, and resident of the area, also joined in 2018. Even if his cocoa beans are Nicaraguan, he shares our respect for the soil and local environment (you could say he’s a local in Nicaragua as well as here, since he trades directly with the cocoa farmers and cares for the the soil that supplies him — neatly bypassing the dark abyss of the mass-producing chocolate industry).
Quickly, more partners have joined Tore, Carsten and Mikkel: Birtheminde (raising happy black-spotted pigs, Kattinge Kraut, (who ferment cabbage) Herslev Grønvirke (using our beer for vinegars and condiments), and most recently Hanebjerggaard who race Dorcet lambs, Lejre Mikropølsemageri (sausage-maker with proud traditions), and Dorte Kiilerich, event-maker.
We’ve started out 2019 by officially founding A Part of Herslev as a socioeconomic enterprise. Our goal is to strengthen local, circular production and economy, as well as social inclusion. New buildings will rise on the fields: Friis-Holm Chocolate and Lejre Mikropølsemageri are going to join us out here. We hope to create a mecca of ideas, located in Herslev, and we hope our model for company cooperation can be taken far beyond our backyard. To develop and brew beer is a creative process, full of twists and experiments that may mount to nothing — and that’s how it should be. The more companies and guests who come out here — benefitting logistics, economy and inspiration — the better we can continue to be the nerd inventors of beer we wish to be.
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