Since the Middle Ages, beer was the staple drink in Sweden. Of course, beer consumption, in spite of strong fluctuations, always was many times higher than nowadays. However, an early start on beer brewing means that Sweden has had a lot of time to experiment and develop their own unique taste. And beer is still very important for the culture, which constitutes around 32% of all alcohol sold in Sweden.
Sweden is one of the most expensive countries on Earth in which to buy a beer, but this does not stop it from being one of the most exciting. The state-owned Systembolaget chain of drink stores, which holds the take-home monopoly for regular and stronger beers, now has a theoretical range of nearly 1,200 different local and imported brands.
While Systembolaget clearly sees its primary social role as the control of alcohol provision, it makes its full product range available across the whole country. It is worth mentioning that some grocery stores are allowed to sell what is known as folkol (“people’s beer”), containing 2.8% to 3.5% ABV.
Swedish Craft beers becoming popular
Like in many other European countries and especially Scandinavia and the Baltic States, the popularity of craft beer has been on the rise in Sweden, too. Craft brewers are seeking to shake up the Swedish market, despite the barriers. The explosion of the craft beer trend continued in 2016 with now over 250 craft beer breweries in Sweden.
Smaller foreign craft beer producers have a better chance to sell to niche craft beer importers or directly to restaurants. At nearly every restaurant—high-end or not—there is at least a modest beer list with at least one local beer on offer, usually suitable to accompany everything from classic dishes like creamed herring, elk steak and reindeer sausage to more modern fare.
Sweden has a big range of beers to choose from; whether you are into simple and traditional or unique and more intricate kind, you are likely to find something that will satisfy the taste buds and lighten your day.
Cities with a booming craft culture
The capital is one of the best destinations you can choose when it comes to craft beer. Because only one chain of shops, Systembogalet is allowed to sell alcohol above 3.5% ABV, bars don’t really have to compete against supermarkets or corner shops, as they often do in other countries. This is an advantage as bars and breweries can then take higher risks by being innovative and open in their production, as they aren’t concerned with having to lower quality or compete on price. You can also experience many of the Swedish beer brands via pub crawls and tours in Sweden.
One of the most popular places among the locals is Stockholm Brewing Co, which is open every Friday and welcomes everyone seeking to spend the night in a cosy environment enjoying a quality pint to rewind. It is located in Södermalm and has everything form light table saisons to strong imperial stouts. Some of their beer is also sold at Systembogalets, so in case Friday isn’t the Day you happen to be in Stockholm on, you know there is another way.
Modernist Brewery is another place seeking to change the public’s perception of craft beer in Stockholm in Södermalm, definitely worth visiting.
The place to Stockholm’s largest beer collection, storing over 750 different brews to coose from, as well as delicious food. Internationella Pressklubben has a unique concept: to serve 300 types of beer in a warm, cosy environment. Both small and larger parties are welcome and the menu features dishes such as: sikafors (whitefish roe on toast) with porcini cream and thinbread biscuits; classic steak tartare with trimmings; pasta fiore (oven baked pasta roll with spinach.
Folk and Friends
A cosy gem situated in Kungsholmen by the waterfront with an incredible selection of craft beer. It’s super laid back and dogs are allowed which means a lot of friendly faces. You can also take away from their selection of beer which is unique for Stockholm. The staff are super friendly and accommodating.
By now it is clear that the craft beer scene in Stockholm is thriving, making it a perfect spot for all the beer lovers looking for a fresh experience, infused with unique flavours.
The craft beer scene, then, is really thriving in Stockholm, making it a brilliant place to visit if you are a beer lover looking for some new spots, brews and bars to try out.
The second largest in Sweden, Gothenburg is a booming beer city that more people should know about! With plenty of microbreweries in and around the city, you can be sure of one thing – the beer belly will definitely not be disappointed if you bring it to Gothenburg.
As you might guess from the name, Beerbliotek is a kind of a “beer library”, as a brewery. It released no less than 36 different varieties in the first year of its activities, and by now the number is over 200 and growing. The brewery is run by an international group of friends. It’s located in Majorna and opens the doors to its taproom every second weekend. You can also book tasting sessions.
In the old factory blocks of Gothenburg on the north side of the Göta Älv, Vega Bryggeri is blowing new life into old traditions, adding curiosity and stylish labels to the brew. Sustainability is very much a part of their approach; the brewing equipment was constructed by a local welder and the company manages its own logistics to save the environment as much as possible.
Every other Friday you can eat and try out new beers in the tasting bar on Ringön, with a view over the building cranes and Håkan Hellström’s favourite stroll along Gullbergsvass.
3 Små Rum
A unique bar that will make you feel at home. Located in a basement in Vasastan, just south of the old city centre (with an outside patio as well), the name translates to “three small rooms”, which is exactly what it is.
The motto “Don’t ask for blask”, (blask being slang for lousy beer in Swedish), sets the standard at 3 Små Rum, found a stone’s throw from the main boulevard Avenyn. The bar was mentioned in New york Times. They also work with local breweries, like Dugges and Electric Nurse, which we recommend trying. In case you happen to have an empty stomach, a food menu is available too, and the selection is a mix of pub grub and Persian food, with several vegetarian options.
Gothenburg has become the beer capital of Sweden, where beer has a special importance and so there are also many events and gathering to celebrate this magical beverage!
Here is a website you can visit to find out more about various events in the city click here.
Swedish Beers To Check Out
If you live in the UK can also grab some Swedish beers from Tescos and some other supermarkets.
Carnegie Porter (5.5%)
One of Michael Jackson’s 500 Classic Brews. Carnegie Porter was brewed for the first time in 1836 and tastes the same today as it did then. Carnegie Porter has a creamy head with a scent of coffee. Its sweet and well-rounded flavor is balanced by the bitterness of the hops. Storage helps the flavor mature and enhances its harmony.
Omnipollo Zodiac (6.2%)
Zodiac is Omnipollo’s self-proclaimed House IPA. Various types of malt and a good portion of Simcoe, Citra and Centennial form the basis. The classic India Pale Ale is typically fruity for Omnipollo. Aromas of peach and apricot combine with a nice bitterness to create wonderfully round and very drinkable IPA. Zodiac is Omnipollo’s self-proclaimed House IPA.
Dugges Anagram Barrel Aged (15.0%)
Malty, complex, very sweet taste with hints of barrels, dark chocolate, blueberries, coffee, buttercream, curd, licorice and vanilla.
Närke Slättöl Pale Ale (4.9%)
Hops aromatic flavor with clear bran, grapefruit, crispbread, cloves and orange.
I hope you enjoyed the intro into Swedish beers and hope you get to experience the journey of beer discoveries in Sweden and I leave you with a quote from Winston Churchill to keep in mind while you’re at it, “Most people hate the taste of beer—to begin with. It is, however, a prejudice.”
Love Sweden? Also Read:
- Things To Do In Stockholm In Winter
- Useful Swedish Phrases For Visitors
- A Weekend In Stockholm
- What To Pack For Sweden
- The Best Books Set In Sweden
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