• Sweden edition
 
CHRISTMAS IN SWEDEN
Sweden's best Christmas beers: a selection
Photo: Systembolaget

Sweden's best Christmas beers: a selection

Published: 09 Dec 2011 14:27 GMT+01:00
Updated: 09 Dec 2011 14:27 GMT+01:00

For many of us living in Sweden, Christmas is a time for observing time-honoured traditions like lighting advent candles on Sundays, spending mornings before school with our children watching Julkalendern, pickling herrings and slow cooking mustard-coated hams, battling through overcrowded shops and persuading neighbours and friends to ‘help out’ on the big day.

But for fans of great beer, Christmas brings with it a different kind of tradition altogether – the annual release of seasonal beers at the Systembolaget.

This year a staggering 42 beers made their way onto the shelves at the state run liquor retailing monopoly, prompting the question: “what exactly is Christmas beer?”

Many beer aficionados feel that (and don’t tell the kids this) Christmas beers, like Santa Claus, don’t actually exist.

From the beginning they were probably little more than a cynical ploy from large Humbug breweries looking to fill their profit stockings by taking one of their standard beers, shoving a scrooge-size dollop of sweetness, booze and colour in it, slapping a Santa on the bottle/can and calling it something ‘Christmasy’.

The good news is that in recent years, the lack of any real stylistic definition of Christmas beer has led to many brewers making up their own rules. For beer drinkers this is cheery news indeed as we can now enjoy everything from a bock or a Belgium strong ale to an old ale and even a beer that you can warm up!

So if you’re looking forward to a hoppy Christmas here’s a quick wish list of 10 beers worth trying this Yuletide:

Anchor Christmas Ale

This ale's secret recipe is different every year—as is the tree on the label! Expect an explosion of red berries and citrus, spices and a hint of sap and pine needles (as though someone slipped a bit of the Christmas tree in it while you weren’t looking).

BrewDog There is No Santa

Watch out because this stout from the ‘shock jock’ Scottish craft brewery BrewDog is a spice bomb loaded with gingerbread, coffee, orange peel and chocolate!

Corsendonk Christmas Ale

As Belgium as TinTin with sweet smells of dates, candy sugar, cloves and something mildly medicinal. With an amazingly thick, smooth consistency this beer’s like Christmas pudding in liquid state. Great after-dinner beer with superb ageing potential!

Great Divide Hibernation Ale

A powerful English style old ale with a distinctly American twist. Monstrously large levels of sweet toffee malt flavours followed by an attack of hoppy bitterness in the finish. Not strictly a Christmas beer but a seasonal beer classic since 1995.

Jólabjór

A smoked bock (a strong lager) from Icelandic craft brewery Ölvisholt Brugghús. Smells of campfires, lightly smoked meat and fruit and delivers flavours of bready malts and spicy lemons.

Liefmans Gluhkriek

Probably the weirdest beer of the season but wonderful along with it. A hybrid of glögg (a spiced mulled wine) and kriek, a Belgium cherry fruit beer. All fruity red wine upfront and then the spices kick in, with cloves and cinnamon leading the charge. Drink it cold or warm it up!

Mikkeller Santa’s Little Helper

A hugely complex Christmas beer from Denmark with intoxicating aromas of orange, cinnamon and chocolate and a velvety body that seduces with its rich, sugary spicy finish.

Sigtuna Midvinterblot

An imposing imperial porter brewed with a blend of pilsner, chocolate and oat malts together with muscovado sugar and honey. Tastes of melted ‘knack’, almonds and chocolate. A perfect beer to relax and reward yourself with once the relatives have gone home on Christmas day!

Mohawk SnowBlind Strong Ale

Swedish ‘flying brewer’ Stefan Gustavsson has created this strong ale which takes a detour from the majority of malty beers out there and instead delivers an invigorating hit of hoppy passion fruit and pine on the nose.

Nils Oscar Julöl

As Christmas as Kalle Anka, with inviting smells of chocolate, dried fruit and coffee over an elegant and smooth digestive biscuit and caramel body.

Enjoy responsibly, and have a very merry Christmas!

Darren Packman started writing about beer in the UK in the mid-90s. Now based in Umeå in northern Sweden, Darren now writes about the beer scene in Sweden from the inside out on his "decidedly un-lagom beer blog" BeerSweden.se.

Paul Rapacioli (paul.rapacioli@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

20:30 December 10, 2011 by JustGuy
Anyway Fuller's ESB is the best.
23:31 December 13, 2011 by Puffin
Shame the article didn't focus on Swedish Christmas/Winter beers

My own favourite is the award winning Oppigårds Winter Ale from Dalarna
01:28 December 14, 2011 by Coalbanks
Sounds good. Can these be mailed to me?
18:05 December 18, 2011 by Great Scott
@JustGuy

You are right, but try King Goblin.

There is not a beer in this list that is worthy of being a Christmas beer. Try St Peters or Fullers Old Winter Ale.
Today's headlines
National
Swedish town 'like Venice' after heavy rains
Photo: TT

Swedish town 'like Venice' after heavy rains

Torrential rains in western Sweden have left some towns submersed as water levels have risen to 1.5 metres above normal for the season with forecasts indicating that is worse to come. READ  

Ebola crisis
Sweden pledges new aid to UN Ebola fund
Photo: TT

Sweden pledges new aid to UN Ebola fund

Sweden has offered a new sizeable contribution to the fund set up by UN chief Ban K-moon to fight the Ebola outbreak. READ  

Society
'Dark forces' target refugee hunting scheme
Photo: Lars-Göran Thuresson/Älgriket

'Dark forces' target refugee hunting scheme

The Swedish hunting association runs a project to encourage young asylum-seekers to learn about hunting, a move which has proved controversial among some far right groups. READ  

Business & Money
American sales squeeze Ericsson profits
Ericsson CEO Hans Vestberg presents the third-quarter earnings report at the company's headquarters in Kista. Photo: Janerik Henriksson/TT

American sales squeeze Ericsson profits

Swedish telecoms equipment maker Ericsson reported a decline in net profit in the third quarter despite an increase in sales, boosted by business in emerging markets. READ  

Interview
'Too many concerts feel the same'
Sofar hosts secret gigs in Swedish apartments. Photo: Sofar

'Too many concerts feel the same'

Kattis Bjork founded Stockholm's secret gig scene - Sofar - a year ago. The Local caught up with her as she prepared to celebrate the project's anniversary this weekend and revealed the concept will spread to other Swedish cities in 2015. READ  

Stockholm 'sub hunt'
Sweden calls off suspect submarine search
Ships are returning to shore in Sweden. Photo: TT

Sweden calls off suspect submarine search

The core search for a suspected foreign vessel in Swedish waters has been called off. The armed forces said they remained convinced foreign underwater activity had taken place but had not identified an intruder. READ  

Business & Money
US and Japan fuel surge for Volvo trucks
Ed Carbaugh prepares to install parts on a truck engine on an assembly line at Volvo Trucks' powertrain manufacturing facility in Hagerstown, Maryland, March 2014. Photo: Patrick Semansky/AP

US and Japan fuel surge for Volvo trucks

Sweden's Volvo, the world's second-largest maker of trucks, said Friday it saw a spike in profits in the third quarter, boosted by thriving sales in the US and Japanese markets. READ  

Inspectors attacked at rogue doc’s surgery
Cigarettes and beer photo: Shutterstock

Inspectors attacked at rogue doc’s surgery

Inspectors who were sent to shut down a doctor’s surgery in Gothenburg were physically attacked and fled the premises to get help from the police. READ  

Police turn Swede’s vodka into water
A Swede loads a car with alcohol in northern Germany. File photo: Drago Prvulovic/TT

Police turn Swede’s vodka into water

Swedish police say they will pay a man 16,000 kronor ($2,200) in damages after much of the alcohol they confiscated from him was stolen, while many of the bottles they returned were filled with water. READ  

Diplomacy
US to get first female ambassador in Sweden
File photo: Athena Center for Leadership Studies

US to get first female ambassador in Sweden

The United States Embassy in Stockholm is set to get its first female ambassador after the White House announced it was nominating the Iranian-American ex-investment banker Azita Raji to take over from Mark Brzezinski. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Lifestyle
What's On in Sweden: October 24th - 31st
Gallery
People-watching: October 22nd
Gallery
In Pictures: Prince Carl Philip and Sofia Hellqvist
Lifestyle
Eight things to love about renting a Swedish apartment
National
Vasa ship cannon blasted in Sweden
Blog updates

24 October

Editor’s blog, October 24th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hi readers, Get ready to read our weekly digest of Swedish news in less than 60 seconds. The..." READ »

 

24 October

Is darkness weather? (Blogweiser) »

"I try very hard not to talk about the weather. This has come after a decade..." READ »

 
 
 
National
Sub hunt: Day-by-day
National
Sub hunt: Stockholm islanders share their fears with The Local
Sponsored Article
The best options for oversea transfers
National
Get 20% off unique Swedish homeware
National
Dentist gives free care to Roma beggars
Business & Money
Get your own office in Gothenburg or Stockholm - free for a day
Gallery
Property of the week: Malmö
Gallery
PHOTOS: 'Foreign activity' in Swedish waters
Gallery
People-watching: October 19th
TT
Society
QUIZ: How good is your Swedish?
Lifestyle
What's on in Sweden: October 17th - 24th
Society
The nudity... and nine other things expat men notice in Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: October 15th
Gallery
Your views: Should outdoor smoking be banned in Sweden?
Business & Money
Sweden has 'large hole' in finances
Sponsored Article
Introducing... Finding a job in Stockholm
Society
Monster salmon caught in northern Sweden
Gallery
Property of the week: Lorensberg
National
Scandinavia's child bride
National
Ebola crisis: How is Sweden preparing?
Business & Money
How Sweden is becoming a cashless society
Gallery
Stockholm Burlesque Festival 2014
National
How a little red horse became a symbol for Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: October 12th
Business & Money
The hottest start-ups from southern Sweden
National
What's on in Sweden: October 10th - 17th
National
Stockholm is 'best' region for well-being
Gallery
People-watching: October 8th
National
Five facts to know about Patrick Modiano
Society
My Swedish Career: A French fashionista in Sweden
Society
Swede's anti-bully Facebook tale goes viral
Society
Have you seen Sweden's viral subway cancer campaign?
National
Isis: Swedes linked to Turkish prisoner swap
National
Should Swedes be banned from buying sex abroad?
Gallery
Fredrik Reinfeldt's leaving presents
National
Five Swedish TV shows you shouldn't miss
Gallery
A tool belt, a casserole, and a book. Fredrik Reinfeldt's parliament gifts
TT
Lifestyle
Top five winter festivals in Sweden
TT
National
Sami reindeer herders win mine reprieve
Gallery
Property of the Week: Gamla Enskede
Sponsored Article
How to catch the first lobster of the year
Team SCA
Sponsored Article
All-female SCA team takes off on Volvo Ocean Race
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

985
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
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
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