©  Foto:

MARK: From lice in trouble to lavish wedding parties

You feel all sides of history when you visit Museumsgården Karensminde, which is part of Mark - the museum for a new Danish history.

The museum reflects the last 400 years of history and tells about the development from agricultural land through industrialization to the welfare society we have today. Karensminde is the only remaining farm out of the seven that once made up the village of Morsbøl. It is a meadow farm, where the farmer has used the grass from the lush meadow area to keep e.g. cows and sheep. The farms lay like pearls on a string - and the road past them was popularly called the Milky Way - because of all the milk the cattle gave the meadow farmers. Karensminde was the most prosperous and fine farm in the village at the end of the 18th century and later became the parish bailiff's farm.

On a fine summer day, the farm exudes coziness and idyll. But it was not always so. As on other farms in the country, everyday life in the 1900s consisted of child labour, hunger, fear of witches and sorcery, fires, rakes, social inequality, lice, disease and the struggle to survive. You could also meet the other side of the coin: fields in good condition, parties, holidays, traditions and full storerooms.

Take a trip back to 1920

With Karensminde, we zoom in particularly on agriculture, as it was run from the 1920s to the 1950s. It was a period when agriculture underwent very large changes. Also at Karensminde. The hay in the livestock's winter feed was replaced with beets. Large parts of the meadow areas were drained and during the 1900s the meadow farm was first used for traditional agriculture and later for industrial use - before being resurrected even later as a museum farm and cultural attraction. The farm currently cultivates 50 hectares of land, which corresponds to a good 40 football pitches. We do this in a seven-field shift to keep the soil alive and fertile. We also have meadow areas where our old Danish livestock breeds graze.

Beer is needed

When you visit us, we tell you about the household, about the food that was eaten every day, and about how the food was preserved in a time without chest freezers and refrigerators. We do this in the kitchen garden, the potato cellar and in the farmhouse with kitchen and storeroom.

For many years, brewing beer was one of the central tasks in the kitchen. Everyone, children and adults, drank beer every day. When you brew beer, the water is boiled and then it is safe to drink. However, the beer that was given to children - and drunk on a daily basis - was not particularly strong. It was the thin beer – an expression which has become a way of speaking, for example, for part of a group that does not stand out in any way. They are included as the thin beer.

The following text in italics could be an accordion:

The beer became our destiny

We have been brewing beer for more than 3,000 years. For example, Egtvedpige got a bucket of beer with her for her trip to the other side. The process is well known, but the yeast had not been tamed until 1883. Grain, water, yeast and herbs/hops are the ingredients behind a good brew. It's simple, but the process is long and difficult. The grain must sprout. After 4-7 days, germination must be stopped by drying or roasting the grain (which is now called malt). The sprouts are removed. The malt is cracked and mashed at about 65° for a few hours. This extracts the malt's sugars into the water (the wort). All this is said and the herb is boiled with the hops for an hour. And refrigerate before fermentation can begin. It requires a great deal of knowledge and experience, the right tools and storage conditions, reasonable hygiene and a good deal of luck to convert the few ingredients into a good brew.

Beer with glow

No strangers were allowed to witness the brewing. Strangers could not be trusted. They could also be witches or other evils. If strangers came to visit, you could throw a glow at them when they left the farm. For iron and fire could ward off evil forces. You may also have thrown an ember or iron coins into the beer to remove the evil and make the process successful.

In many beer barrels and vessels, we also see that crosses are scratched in the wood to keep evil away. In addition, they sang little songs about good and evil while brewing beer or sprouting grain.

Under the floor, the monsters threaten

Under the living room floors lived the butlers. They were convinced of that. They were small, mean and looked like goblins. When you spilled beer on the floor, the drops fell to the feet and then they stayed still. But when they got no beer, they got angry and made the residents fall so they could drink blood instead. At Karensminde, however, a former resident guarded against this by placing a calf skull under the living room floor.

The beer was on the annual wheel

The good, strong beer was brewed in spring and autumn, when it was neither too hot nor too cold. The everyday beer was brewed when the barrel was almost empty. Then the barrel was put on its side so that the last tap could be taken. We know this today in expressions such as: When the day goes down.

From utility room to washing machine and wet rubber boots

In the 19th century, every farm had its own small brewery for its own use. The word brewer comes from bruggerhus – a special room for the farm's beer brewing. Later, the room was used for other major kitchen work such as baking or butchering. Today, a utility room covers over a room with a sink, deep freezer, washing machine, boots and perhaps a central boiler.

We are still brewing

Beer was also brewed at Karensminde. However, it was not something the residents showed off in the 1800s. The brewing took place in secret here in the region. Because the religious forces were on the rise. In the last half of the century, Indre Mission spread and gained influence on the population on the heath. Indre Mission advocated abstinence, and it was frowned upon to get drunk.

Today we still brew. It takes place according to proud traditions with roots back in the 1800s. We use our own home grown crops such as grain and hops. Kornet is a six-rowed spring barley, which as a species can be traced back to 1860.

You can buy a Karensminde Ale – or two – to add to your basket in the museum shop. Do it. Then you can taste the history when you get home. And think about whether it is a coincidence that the most highly regarded malting barley in England is also a six-rowed barley rather than the usual two-rowed malting barley.