I was in Europe last year and had a good look at the €1 coin. Whats going on with Sweden? Without Norway, Sweden effectively becomes the cock and balls of Europe!
Hmm, it appears I have duped! In an Italian restaurant in Gamla Stan, Stockholm (ie the only place still open late on a Sat night) I ordered the only draught beer on the menu – Falcon. The beer tasted ok, slightly bland and a little soapy. Low and behold I get back to London and start to do a little research for the blog and I find out its a low alcohol beer! Falcon is 2.8% abv… According to the official Carlsberg website (they brew the stuff);
Again at the Skybar in Stockholm, Sweden the next beer that I encountered as I drank my way down the row of taps hiding behind the bar was Starbrno (5.0% abv) which is a Czech Pilsner which has been improted from teh town of Brno in the Czech republic. As far as Pilsners go, this is a very good example – more refined than Staropramen which I find really dry, but also not as buttery as Pilsner Urquell. If only I had a nice pork knuckle to enjoy with the beer!
Once again in the Skybar and the beer of tipple amongst the Stockholm crowd appeared to be Mariestads Export (5.3% abv). This beer is a pale Pilsner style beer with a clean malty taste and a nice bitter aftertaste. The beer is nice and well balanced and is considered one of the leading Swedish beers. I am not going to argue with that, however the dominant style that I noticed was the Vienna Lager style? Maybe this is environmental with the climate providing barley that malts with a lot of mellanoids, whilst hops grown in the area are lower in alpha acids? Anyhow the Mariestads brand is one of several owned by Spendrups, who acquired the former Mariestads brewery in 1967. On an interesting note, and arguably more interesting than the beer is that Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin have an interest in the brewery and it is the Swedish licence holder for Virgin cola. http://www.mariestads.se/
The final beer I had on my birthday was in a little beer café that I can’t find any info about online (or even its name or google maps listing). This place was awesome though, with approx. six or seven international microbrewed beers on tap and a beer fridge that will give any rate beer die hard a boner!
The day after my bday, Mrs CB and I went for a walk around the harbours of Stockholm taking in the scenery and admiring the maritime heritage the Swedish capital has to offer. We planned to ultimately visit the Vasa museum to pay tribute to the 15th century warship which was raised and restored 40 odd years ago after sinking in the 16 hundreds. Obviously whilst in Sweden we also needed to have some Swedish meatballs! So we pulled into a little riverside café where the fine Swedish girl behind the bar (all people in Sweden are hot for some reason?) suggested that I go for a Norrlands Guld (5.3% abv). This beer I found to be refreshing, but its in the mould of a standard swilling lager rather than anything interesting. Apparently its the biggest selling brand in Sweden! So I feel a little bit duped into drinking Swedish mega-swill, but then again, the meatballs more than made up for it! http://www.guldsits.se/en/
Again at the posh noshery, I decided to explore the beer menu and went for Nils Oscar’s God Lager (5.3% abv) which roughly translates to “Good Stocks”. Again, like Spendrup’s Mellanol, this beer is a Vienna Style lager with strong a really strong malt profile. Slightly darker than your average lager the texture is also thicker as the beer is unpasteurised, which leaves the beer tasting fresh and new.
Abro Sigill III (5.2% abv) is a little known microbrewed lager which I tracked down in posh noshery “Fem Små Hus” which translates to – “Five small houses”. The beer is a crisp general lager, not exploding with flavour but far from bleak either. I can’t seem to find a great deal of information on the beer, obviously as it has a limited distribution. It surprises me that micro’s bother producing beers in this style as it forces them to compete directly with megaswill producing mainstreams. Anyhow, a nice beer if a little bit plain. Website: http://www.abro.se/
Continuing with the theme of my birthday, we cruised on downtown where I grabbed a quick schooner of Spendrups Mellanol (4.2% abv) which is a nice Vienna style lager complete with a strong Munich malt/ melanoid flavour that works quite nice. The initial taste is malty upfront, but there is a nice grassy hop aftertaste with a lingering bitterness which is surprising for such a malty beer. The pub I was in on the other hand was quite dull and uninspiring, with staff who obviously didn’t want to be there. Anyhow, you only turn 30 once so I was making the most of the evening! If you can read Swedish, then you can find more info here.
Whilst in Stockholm I went a little bit more upmarket than I usually do when traveling and stayed at the five star Radisson Viking, smack in the center of town near central station. Now the best part about staying here was the magnificent Skybar on the top floor, which offered awesome views over the harbour and the old town (Gamla Stan). To kick off drinking festivities I was told by the barman that I should go for a Swedish classic and he offered me a pint (well a schooner ~400ml) of Spendrups (5.0%). The beer was pretty ordinary really and did not have a lot to offer besides being cold. It is vaguely pilsner like in taste but more along the lines of a North German pils than a Bavarian or Czech one. Anyhow, the view more than made up for the shortcomings of the beer. And as a bonus, the sun even came out! More info is available via the Spendrups website: http://www.spendrups.se/ (if you can read Swedish) otherwise enjoy the attached clip.
"The Beer Diary is not elitist, it is for lovers of all beer - Crap to Craft"
This website was originally established in early 2008 to document every new beer I drank in that year. Over time it morphed to an observational showcase of the weird people that the beer world draws to it. Now it's where I post beer related bits and pieces. Enjoy.