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During the Nordic Food Feed Conference I attended several months ago, we went to the Carlsberg Museum for a
presentation by Morten Ibsen, the head brewer of Jacobsen, an upscale brand of
specialty beers from Carlsberg. 

Ibsen has a Master of
Science, which he combines with Nordic innovation to make distinctive specialty
beers, which, along with the regional cuisine, are being branded as part of the
Nordic lifestyle.

But having a Master of
Science isn’t what led to Ibsen developing one of Jacobsen’s most well received
specialty beers. Having a baby– more specifically, having a baby in a Nordic
country – did.
A few years ago it was noted
that fewer than 20% of Danish women drink beer, and the numbers were steadily
declining.
Carlsberg set out to reverse
this trend, and not only increase the number of women beer drinkers, but to
make beer the drink of choice at the dinner table, which they realized couldn’t
be done unless women were drinking beer.
In an attempt to bring women
into the beer drinking fold, the company focused on two things: creating beers
that women would find more appealing
, namely beers that were less bitter and
smooth, and showing women how to pair beer with food.
Jacobsen Velvet was one of
the beers created to change women’s minds about beer. Ibsen was inspired to
craft this beer in 2007 while on paternity leave with his daughter. Did you get
that? PATERNITY LEAVE.
Ibsen was able to take time
from his job for a few weeks – with pay- to bond with his newborn daughter, as
men, heck, as women, in Nordic countries are allowed and encouraged to do. The
result? Inspiration, innovation, and ultimately, revenue for Carlsberg.
As he bonded with his baby, the
thought came to Ibsen that a beer that was smooth like his daughter’s skin and velvety
would be the kind of beer to attract women. The beer should also be light, like
a Nordic summer
.
While I am not a beer
drinker, after hearing how Jacobsen Velvet was “conceived”, I was all, “yeah, I’ll
have one of those”. I’m a marketers sucker dream, I know.
Other notable characteristics
of Jacobsen Velvet are no bitter aftertaste because the hops are added late in the process; you can taste hints of passion fruit and citrus in the beer and
it’s sparkling, with a hint of acidity, thanks to the champagne yeast.
After the presentation, we
were treated to a culinary lunch put together by Chef Marco Sganzeria using
beer as both an ingredient and as a pairing with food. Following the New Nordic
Cuisine principals, Chef Sganzeria’s menu was comprised of fresh, local and seasonal
ingredients, including celeriac, carrots, beets, potatoes, pork and fish. 
Though
it was interesting to experiment with the different beers and see how they
matched with food, I have to admit, I was not converted. As smooth and light
and sparkly as the Jacobsen Velvet was, it won’t be at my dinner table.
It
might, however, show up on the table outside, paired with food cooked
on the grill, as I imagine a light, Nordic summer.