Issue October 28, 2008

RIP Mouse & Elephant

It is my sad duty to inform Kentuckiana that the Mouse & Elephant has closed. It is now a former pub, and that’s too bad.

Not only that, but the brewery that produced the pub’s only draft beer isn’t even located in Copenhagen anymore. 

This disclosure may not resonate with those who haven’t been to Denmark’s capital, a wonderful city that old-school, internationalist beer lovers like me always identified with the Carlsberg and Tuborg breweries. 

Times have changed. My Danish friend “Big Kim” has expressed elation throughout the past decade as a new wave of artisanal brewing in Denmark steadily flowers, offering exciting alternatives to the traditional market dominance of serviceable but bland lagers. 

When I first visited Copenhagen in the mid-1980s, it was all about Carlsberg, Tuborg and their lines of lagers, which varied only in strength. Other breweries in Denmark followed the memo, although the odd Porter could sometimes be found.

Back then, the place to go in Copenhagen for the rarest draft beer of all was the Mouse & Elephant, which had only one brew on tap: Carlsberg Elephant, a full-bodied, 8-percent-abv. golden lager dispensed from the trunk of a custom-made elephant head that was mounted behind the bar. The server twisted a tusk to make the liquid flow. The price was steep, but the results sublime.

Elephant has been available in the States for quite some time, but as a Canadian-brewed knockoff. Tuborg merged with Carlsberg decades ago, and its grand old brewery was redeveloped into offices and condos. The same fate presumably awaits Carlsberg’s downtown location, now declared obsolete. Earlier this year, all brewing operations were shifted to a new, state-of-the-art facility in Jutland. 

The unkindest cut of all is the Mouse & Elephant’s demise. I’d like to fondle that tusk just one more time.

Roger Baylor is co-owner of the New Albanian Brewing Co. in New Albany. Visit www.potablecurmudgeon.com for more beer.