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To Øl: into the wild with Nathan Borg

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Nathan Borg is leading the development of mixed fermentation and barrel-aged beer styles at To Øl, the Denmark-based brewer that is among the top of the crowded craft world.

The Beer Idiots caught up with Borg at the Festival Bière à Lille in September and talked to him about the wild beers he is developing, his background (coffee roasting) and Denmark’s craft beer scene (see video).

Nathan Borg, brewer, To Øl 

The journey

To Øl was founded by Tore Gynther and Tobias Emil Jensen in 2010 as a gypsy brewer. The two had honed their skills together in high-school, when they used the kitchen facilities during closing hours to brew beer.

Their beers grew in fame and in 2012 To Øl entered Ratebeer’s list of Top 100 best breweries in the world in 2012. Two years later To Øl was 9th best brewery on the list.

In 2017 Jensen left the company.  To Øl took over a former food factory in Svinninge, a good hour’s drive west of Copenhagen. There, To Øl has set up its own brewery and barrel room, along with a dedicated section for spontaneously fermented beer. He has also launched a distillery on site. 

With 26,600 sq. m. of buildings sitting on 150,000 sq. m. of land, there is plenty of room to dream. Dubbed as ‘To Øl City’, Gynther plans to turn the site into a beer wonderland for collaborations and as a “collective of the most talented craft beverage producers in Denmark, and we’re already hosting cider producers. kombucha brewers and rum distillers”. 

He also launched the wild beer project, and brought in Borg to develop that style for To Øl.

“It is just at the birth of the mixed fermentation stuff,” Borg said. “We are going in a direction, which may change slightly and evolve over the years. We are off to a nice start and I am pretty happy with it.”

Borg, who is from New Zealand, grew up in the food and drink world then “went deep into the coffee world” for 13 years when he moved to Australia. There he started brewing beer at home as a hobby.

When he moved to Copenhagen he decided to try entering the beer world. 

“I was fortunate to be at the right place at the right time,” he said. He started at To Øl’s brew pub in Copenhagen, which led to a chance to help out at the brewery doing regular beer, while continuing to do mixed fermentation beers at home.

To Øl’s owners liked his beers enough so that when they bought the site in Svinninge, he jumped on board.

“There is so much potential for creativity,” Borg said, adding that he has brought his coffee roasting background to some of the stouts they are producing.

With the mixed fermentation styles still in its infancy, he sees the release of some of the beers in a year or so. To Øl is also working with local producers to begin producing mead as well.

The next step is to convert the Danish to try some of the mixed fermentation beers that will come on tap soon. He is influenced by Belgian and French styles.

“There is almost always going to be an acid quality but trying to keep the drinkablity of the saisons and other styles,” he said.

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I am a Canadian beer idiot living in Brussels with Karine and our son Elliott. I am here for the beer, good talk and good writing.
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