I was sitting at the bar at Tørst with Sour Bikini in my glass ready to listen to Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø, founder of Evil Twin Brewing, talk about his journey in the beer scene. Along with me there were around 50 other interested guests gathered around the bar, the music was turned off and it was quiet with anticipation.
Tørst will one Monday out of every month have a brewer talk about how they got in to the beer scene and their journey. March 9th was the start of that series and it was obvious that Jeppe would start this off.
Meet Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø, beer king and founder of Evil Twin Brewing!
Five years ago in April, on the same day as his second child was born, he started Evil Twin Brewing. But it all started in the late 90’s. Living in a small country where Carlsberg totally dominated the beer scene, it was hard to find a beer that wasn’t related to them. During this time Jeppe got in to beer but found the beers he could get hold of boring. So he and some friends started a beer club, where they met up and brought beers to drink and rate. Jeppe started trading beers with the states and found those beers much more interesting. He thought that if no one in Denmark makes these good beers, he might as well do. Jeppe tells us that in everything he does he goes all in and a little more. 105% all the time. So he started to brew beer at home. Back at that time craft beer wasn’t so big in Denmark.
Two beers that Jeppe remember drinking in his early years that wowed him was, Saison Dupont and Rodenbach. Very much because he had never tried anything like them before.
He studied at teachers collage and started working as a school teacher in 2002. His beer journey kept on going parallell and in 2005 he opened a bottle shop in Copenhagen, called Ølbutikken (simply meaning beer store). His focus was on american craft beers.
I couldn’t get the beers I wanted so I took care of it myself. – Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø
Ølbutikken got ranked as the best beer store in the world in 2008. (Image courtesy of ølbutikken.dk)
The next thing on his list of achievements was to start a beer import company, Drikkeriget (meaning The Drinking Kingdom). There seemed to be nothing stopping Jeppe and at this time he was working as a teacher, brewing at home, running a bottle shop and a beer import. Oh, and having a family with a small kid. And soon to have another kid and becoming the owner of Evil Twin Brewing.
In the fall of 2010 he got in contact with Brian Ewing, who owned a beer import in NYC (fun fact: the imperial porter Lil’B is named after him). He wanted to try one of Jeppe’s beer and his eyes lightened up because he really liked it. And he wanted to import his beers but Jeppe said no. At first. But so it happened that his first big batches were brewed at Brewdog, in Scotland. It was Yin and Yang; Yin as an imperial stout and Yang as a imperial IPA. Brian sold everything really quick and it was on.
In March 2012 he moved to NYC with his family, starting a new life. Journalists always asks him if he’s living the American dream, and he says it’s such a cliché, but also true, that is just the way he actually feels.
Living in NYC he felt that the city lacked a little in beer bars, something that he’d experienced through his travelling. So of course he decided to do something about it and open a bar. He found a location in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, and convinced his new friend Daniel Burns (former chef at Noma) to stay in NYC and open a restaurant in the back of the bar. He was easily convinced. For Jeppe it was important that the restaurant would only serve beer and today Luksus is the only restaurant with a Michelin star that only serve beers.
What is his philosophy?
“Brewing is like cooking. I have been involved in the food world for a long time and being a chef is for me the coolest thing. I’m not too concerned about the process, how I get the product. It is the final product that matter. The beer. If that’s cheating? No, I don’t think so. It’s what you put in your mouth and tastes good no matter what. Like putting hot sauce on a food dish.”
The name of Tørst (which means thirst in danish) came from Jeppe wanting a different name for people to remember. And Luksus (which means luxury in danish) came out of the fact that Daniel liked to say the word. 🙂
Fun fact: Little did they know that just next door their was a beauty saloon called Luksus. Greenpoint is the polish area in Brooklyn and luksus means luxury in polish too. 😀
Me and Jeppe celebrating the Michelin star last fall.