For more than 50 years, it was a ketchup factory employing more than 250 people and a pride to the local community. When production shut down in 2015, the previous owners left buildings, machines and a rich story behind. Four years later, we’re turning the lights back on as we take over a massive 26.000 square meter compound to build a state-of-the-art brewery with a vision to put the best beers in the hands of consumers. Follow us as the story of To Øl City begins…
»There’s a feeling of freedom here. Something we haven’t found anywhere else.«
To Øl’s founder and owner Tore Gynther looks around the open space that could one day become an apple and pear orchard. For now, though, it’s just a field of grass in front of the buildings that were once the production facility for Beauvais, the well-known ketchup and canned food company.
Check out the full To Øl City story as we’re releasing the webdoc-episodes on youtube. First episode about the vision of the place is out on youtube here.
»The goal is not only to create a craft brewery but also a craft beverage hub. It’s not all about us producing beers, because there are a lot of great producers out there facing facing challenges on locations and facilities – and we want this place to be a home for these producers,« says Tore.
We’re in Svinninge, a small Danish town located on the tip of northwest Zealand about 80 kilometers from Copenhagen. In front of us is a 26.000 square meter factory site, and since the beginning of 2018, these buildings have been what we call home – even our very own city. The buildings are raw – just as we like it – but unscathed by time. Time seems to have stood still, with the buildings waiting to tell a ton of stories.
»When I first came out here, I was inspired by what could be possible with a facility like this. It was like a burst of creativity when I saw the buildings – some completely fit for beer production and others so unique in their shape that you need to get a creative process rolling to figure out what they should be used for,« Tore says:
»We are still in that process, because it’s 26.000 square meters of space. So there’s a lot of work ahead of us. But the first step on this journey towards a city with room for both experimentation and friends, is to get people into these buildings and create a community.«
At this point, a little backstory for the uninitiated may be necessary. To Øl has been a so-called gypsy brewery since 2010, brewing primarily on other breweries’ spare capacities. The goal was to brew the most balanced, potent and best beers – beers we wanted to drink ourselves. We got lucky (and better) and soon we were ranking on Ratebeer Best 100 breweries list and exporting to more than 40 countries worldwide.
»The first year, we did 5.000 liters of beer, the next year 25.000 liters, then 125.000 liters, 282.000 liters, 484.000 liters, 782.000 liters, and so on,« says Tore. Always on the run, we added more and more beers every year in all shades and styles and to this date we brewed more than 600 different beers.
In 2016 we opened BRUS; our Copenhagen-based brewpub, which allowed us to brew in-house, cook pub-food and serve fresh beers that only travelled eight meters from the brewery to the bar. Three years later we are ready to take it all a big step further and take all of our production home from the great abroad and establish To Øl City.
Taking craft beer further
»This project is about taking the evolution of craft beer even further – we’re creating a brewhouse of this massive size with the goal of not making any compromises with the quality and ensuring better surroundings for creating quality,« Tore says.
Make no mistake: This is a hugely ambitious undertaking, and with that comes an equally massive gamble, as Tore is acutely aware: »This is us being all in – there’s no plan B. We are building a huge production facility in the belief that we can push better beers out to the public. To Øl City is part of realizing this project, but it all comes down to what happens over the next ten years in terms of how we put all types of life into these buildings,« he says: »The life and community here is going to decide if we succeed or not. In a year, we are going to find out if we are geniuses or complete morons, and that’s the interesting thing about a project like this.«
The huge production space offers a lot of room to grow, which is really why we moved in the first place. But it also gives us completely new possibilities to invite everyone in to see what craft production looks like, Tore explains: »With To Øl City we can add to the total knowledge of how beverages are actually produced, and maybe inspire others to start producing quality beverages and thus add to the total portfolio of beverages in Denmark.«