• Sweden edition
 
Beer in Sweden: Looking beyond the lager

Beer in Sweden: Looking beyond the lager

Published: 24 Mar 2011 10:33 GMT+01:00
Updated: 24 Mar 2011 10:33 GMT+01:00

Imagine I offered you the choice of only eating one type of food – let’s say a cheeseburger – for every breakfast, lunch and dinner for the rest of your life.

Unless you had one serious fast food addiction you probably wouldn’t agree to it would you?

The funny thing is a lot of people do exactly this when it comes to their beer, with a majority of beer drinkers stubbornly sticking to the same style of beer (and often the same one or two brands) for most of their drinking lives.

Very often these beers are the pale yellow lagers that represent the vast majority of beer consumed around the globe. Brands such as Budweiser (the planet’s largest-selling beer brand), Corona, and closer to home Carlsberg and Falcon Export, are often the only style of beer many people ever try and thus define it.

The great news is that fizzy yellow lager is only a single page in the very thick book about beer.

In this month’s article I’m urging you to turn that page over by asking you to try five different styles of beer that are all easily available to buy at the (Swedish state alcohol monopoly retailer) Systembolaget.

In doing so I’m hoping you’ll give beer a better chance to impress you, to flirt a little with your taste-buds and to show you that the earth’s favourite alcoholic drink is everything but a one-trick pony.

Let’s start off with something that’s probably pretty familiar to most of you:

LAGER

Yes I know I said that lager is the sort of beer I’d like you to break away from once in a while but the truth is lager is the world’s most popular beer style for a reason – it’s very refreshing to drink!

Try Pilsner Urquell – recognised as the first golden beer created back in 1842, with a deliciously subtle malt body that hides a spicy bitter backlash from the famous Saaz hops used to brew it.

BITTER

Once the UK’s national drink before the arrival of fizzy Euro-lagers, bitter is as British as the Queen, William Shakespeare and David Beckham all rolled into one.

By definition bitter beers have a medium to high level of bittering hops in them but come with an almost endless choice of supporting flavours and qualities.

Bitters are generally low to mid-strength in alcohol, making them the perfect drink when out socializing.

If you want to go ‘old world’ try Spitfire Premium Kentish Ale or Adnams The Bitter. However for a more contemporary spin try Bedarö Bitter from Nynäshamns Ångbryggeri that uses US hops to add layers of pine and zesty fruit flavours.

WHEAT BEERS

When wheat is added to beer the effects can be spectacular. The beer itself takes on a lighter colour and the distinctive top-fermenting yeasts used to make them often throw out smells of bananas, cloves and band-aid.

In Germany weissbier (white beer) or weizenbier (wheat beer) is served in huge ‘flower vase’ glasses and is often drunk with food. Belgium has developed its own style, witbier, often seasoned with curacao orange peel and coriander.

Go German with Weihenstephaner Hefe Weissbier or Belgium with Hoegaarden Witbier.

INDIA PALE ALE

If you like your beers to pack a stinging hoppy punch then this is the beer style for you. First developed by the British in the 1800s to withstand the long sea voyage to India and to quench the thirst of the Raj.

Classic IPAs use hard water to deliver a refreshing mineral quality, while a boat-load of hops provide grassy aromas and a tongue-curling finish.

US brewers helped revive IPA in the 1980s and it is today one of the most brewed styles of craft beer in the world.

For a more traditional style IPA try Marstons Old Empire. If you want to ramp up the hop hit then give Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA a whirl.

PORTER/STOUT

The boundary between these two beer styles is so blurred it’s sometimes hard to tell them apart. What we do know is that porter came first around 1720 and that stout grew out of it as a stronger, often darker, more roasted version.

Today’s porters and stouts are often an orgy of malts producing chocolate and coffee character while US versions also boast lots of pine and grapefruit action from the aggressive use of hops.

You shouldn’t miss trying the highly rated Fuller’s London Porter or indulge in the chocolate orange decadence of Slottskällans Imperial Stout

While enjoying the malted delights outlined above, remember that there are dozens more beer styles out there to try, so why not grab a glass and start exploring!

Darren Packman (news@thelocal.se)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

17:33 March 24, 2011 by Åskar
If we are really technical Czech beers are generally not lagers at all.
19:00 March 24, 2011 by mojofat
And if we are really and truly technical, swedish beer isn't really beer at all...maybe more like watered down cat urine.
20:06 March 24, 2011 by BeerSwedenDarren
Åskar - actually the lager definition does incorporate Pilsner (which is the style I believe you're referring to in your comment).

To quote the wonderful Wiki:

Lager (German: storage) is a type of beer that is brewed and stored at low temperatures. Pilsner, Bock, Dortmunder Export and Märzen are all styles of lager.
21:56 March 24, 2011 by Dazzathethird
"And if we are really and truly technical, swedish beer isn't really beer at all...maybe more like watered down cat urine."

I'm sorry mojofat, but have you actually tried anything other than pripps or spendrups?

Närke Kaggen Stormaktsporter is currently one of the best beers in the world (www.ratebeer.com) , Oppigårds is a fantastic brewery (peronal opinion), and there are fantastic beers coming out from Eskilstuna, Gothenburg, Västerås and Sigtuna, cupled to that the new "craze" of micro beer bars, Pict, OT , Akuraat and the bishops Arms (yes, they are great for beer) the Swedish beer scene is one of the best around.

and I'm not a biased Swede, I'm an englishman with years of around the world beer drinking experience
06:05 March 25, 2011 by technoviking
Nils Oscar makes the best beer in Sweden...
10:18 March 25, 2011 by HYBRED
There is a IPA by West Coast out this month that is really good. I was hoping that Oppigårds would come back with their Amarillo Spring this year, one of the best American Pale Ales ever.
11:03 March 25, 2011 by Åskar
@BeerSwedenDarren "Lager (German: storage) is a type of beer that is ... stored at low temperatures"

Sorry, but that is exactly what the typical Czech beer isn't. What happens when you store it for a while at low temperature is that a chemical compound (the name of which escapes me at the moment) that gives the beer a "fudgey" (smörkola in Swedish) taste disappears. The Czechs, however, like this taste so they drink their beer without putting it aside for a while first.
15:24 March 25, 2011 by Borilla
To quote Monty Python - Why are Swedish beer and American beer and making love in a canoe alike? They are f*&%#$@ close to water.
16:45 March 25, 2011 by HYBRED
Always argueing over beer. Just shut up and drink!
09:44 March 26, 2011 by cornpone
Pilsner is named after the Czech city of Pilsen.

The microbrew trend and high gravity beers has continued to grow in the states and drawfs anything going on in Sweden or Scandinavia.

Also the growth of wineries in the USA is astounding. 15 years ago the choices of American wines were very limited now high quality wines like pinot noir are everywhere.

I have always wondered why Swedes don't produce any real mead. They do in Poland, Russia, Ukraine, etc... Why not here. A good honey wine would be just right for Sweden after all it was Odin's drink and gave him wisdom.
13:33 March 26, 2011 by mojofat
The swedish beer scene is the best around? I doubt that...but I expect there has to be something better than the swill I've had thus far. The problem is trying to find anything in System Bolaget. I don't want to have to order something and wait for weeks...just stock it.

BTW, there are american microbrews that are in leagues of their own. If you all know of american beer is budweiser, miller, etc., then you don't know much about beer.
14:01 March 26, 2011 by Rick Methven
@mojofat

Are you old enough to drink?
23:43 March 28, 2011 by Sarzparella
fun campaign that carlsberg just launched .. http://unbottleyourself.com/
Today's headlines
Motorists in sticky drama after jam spill

Motorists in sticky drama after jam spill

Drivers in western Sweden were forced to jam on the brakes after a van shed its load of preserves and juices which led to major traffic problems. READ  

Property of the Week
In Pictures: The Local's Property of the Week
Photo: Fastighetsbyrån

In Pictures: The Local's Property of the Week

Why settle for owning a house when you can own part of the island it is located on? This week's property allows you to get your money's worth of solitude while spending some time with your closest neighbour - the sea. READ  

Saab buys Swedish submarine shipyard
File photo: TT

Saab buys Swedish submarine shipyard

Swedish defence and aeronautics group Saab said Tuesday it had completed the acquisition of German heavy industry giant ThyssenKrupp's submarine shipyard in southern Sweden. READ  

Opinion
'The Danish narrative on Sweden is based on a lie'
File photo: Shutterstock

'The Danish narrative on Sweden is based on a lie'

There is a popular narrative that in Sweden people bite their tongues while in Denmark they speak their minds; political commentator Brian Esbensen debunks this, arguing that Danes simply find it easier to criticize others. READ  

Swedish cops elect not to shoot 'angry elks'

Swedish cops elect not to shoot 'angry elks'

After reports that wandering elks were scaring the public, police on the island of Frösön have decided not to open fire on the animals, but have urged locals to exercise caution instead. READ  

Swedish funds to tackle female genital mutilation
Sweden's Minister of International Development Cooperation Hillevi Engström with Foreign Minister Carl Bildt. File photo: TT

Swedish funds to tackle female genital mutilation

Sweden has earmarked 48 million kronor ($7 million) of its development aid budget to a United Nations programme to tackle female genital mutilation. READ  

Swedish leaders speak out on Gaza crisis
Photo: TT

Swedish leaders speak out on Gaza crisis

Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt believes Israel is interested in negotiating a ceasefire with Hamas while Social Democrat leader Stefan Löfven has stood by his comment about the Israelis having a right to defend itself. READ  

New alcohol retail rules threaten micro-breweries
File photo: Systembolaget

New alcohol retail rules threaten micro-breweries

Swedish micro-breweries have reacted with concern to new distribution regulations being imposed by the state controlled alcohol monopoly Systembolaget, which they fear may put them out of business. READ  

ABB and Volvo in electric buses tie-up
Volvo hybrid bus. Photo: Volvo Buses

ABB and Volvo in electric buses tie-up

Swiss-Swedish engineering group ABB and Volvo Buses of Sweden have announced a joint project to develop a system for electric buses to recharge their batteries fast when at bus stops. READ  

'First ever' heat warning issued for Sweden
Photo: TT

'First ever' heat warning issued for Sweden

Swedish weather agency SMHI has issued its first ever warning for high temperatures with the many areas set to bask in plus 30C heat. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Gallery
People-watching Båstad
Business & Money
Sweden falls to third in global innovation index
Society
Swedish ornithologists keep webcam watch
Photo: Andreas Nordström/Image Bank Sweden
Gallery
Top ten Swedish beach hot spots
Tech
Swedish Wiki vet sets new content record
Blog updates

22 July

PROTECTING GIRLS FROM ABUSE OF THEIR RIGHTS (The Diplomatic Dispatch) »

"Today (22 July) my Prime Minister, David Cameron, and UNICEF, are hosting the world’s first #GirlSummit in London. The Summit’s aim is to mobilise domestic and international efforts to end the appalling practices of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and Child Early Forced Marriage (CEFM). This is a high priority for the UK government and the Prime..." READ »

 

18 July

Starting over (Around Sweden in a kayak) »

" I’ve now been off the water for almost 14 days. At first I was totally gutted being forced into a rest period, I had Stockholm in my sights and apart from the pain and discomfort in my shoulder, spirits were high and I was starting to gain some momentum. The news hit me fairly hard and..." READ »

 
 
 
Photo: Fastighetsbyrån
Lifestyle
In Pictures: The Local's Property of the Week
Photo: Finest.se
Gallery
People-watching July 15-16
Photo: Ola Ericson/Image Bank Sweden
Society
What's On in Sweden
Photo: Lisa Mikulski
National
Hope springs eternal for expat pet shop owner
Gallery
Princess Estelle steals limelight at mum's birthday
National
Swedes risk infants' lives by covering up prams
National
Swede runs for office just using Bitcoin funds
Gallery
People-watching July 11-13
National
Malmö mayor slams Danish beggar ban
National
Swedish anti-abortion midwife sues county
National
Swede's salary chopped for Facebook use
National
Northern Sweden warmest in 90 years
Gallery
'Victoria Day': Crown Princess Victoria turns 37
Politics
Mona Sahlin to fight extremism in Sweden
National
EU tells Sweden to cover up snus flavours
Society
Swede snags assassin role in Tom Cruise film
Lifestyle
Top ten ways to spend a few days in Malmö
Gallery
Swedish summer tourism highlights
Sponsored Article
Introducing... Your finances in Stockholm
Sponsored Article
Introducing... Housing in Stockholm
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

691
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
www.swedishdowntown.com
If you want to drink, that’s your business.
If you want to stop, we can help.

Learn more about English-language Alcoholics Anonymous in Sweden. No dues. No fees. Confidentiality assured.
AA-EUROPE.ORG/SWEDEN
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
http://psdmedia.se