• Sweden's news in English

Hard rocking beer man: 'I brew in A Major'

The Local · 22 Feb 2010, 15:08

Published: 22 Feb 2010 15:08 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

See also: Guru's guide: The best beers in Sweden right now

Since becoming the Swedish microbrewery’s first full-time employee early last year Mattias has clearly struck a chord with beer drinkers in this country, masterminding the release of a string of imaginative beers including Sigtuna Black October, Symptom of the Universe Barley Wine and Vårweizen.

As a drummer in a hard rock band, Mattias likes to play hard and fast. He applies the same high-octane level of energy to brewing his beers.

“You could say I brew in A Major, as that’s what AC/DC often play in and it’s their music I listen to when I start brewing my beers”, says Mattias.

“My brewing style is a mix of classical British and US innovation”, he adds, meaning that like US microbreweries he isn’t afraid of tearing up the brewing style rulebook now and again in his quest to find new flavours.

And Mattias isn’t alone. Sigtuna Brygghus is part of a new generation of Swedish microbreweries not afraid to take traditional beer styles and give them a contemporary kick up the backside. Breweries such as Dugges Ale & Porterbryggeri in Gothenburg, Närke Kulturbryggeri in Örebro, Nynäshamns Ångbryggeri and Oppigårds Bryggeri in Dalarna have all seen sales of their beers rocket over recent years as demand grows both at home and overseas.

Until recently Sweden was more famous for the fact nobody cared what beer they drank, as long as it was cheap and high in alcohol. Now the country is being touted as having one of the most exciting beer markets in the world.

This remarkable turnaround is largely due to brewers like Mattias and their almost fanatical belief that craft beers offer drinkers something that until recently had been largely missing in Swedish beers – real taste and character.

“All our beers at Sigtuna have a distinctive character of their own but every one is made with the emphasis on quality, complexity and taste,” says Mattias.

If brewing volumes are anything to go by this invigorated approach to brewing certainly seems to be working at the brewery located on a business park close to Stockholm’s busy Arlanda airport.

In 2008 Sigtuna Brygghus produced just 35,000 litres of beer. A year later that total had more than doubled to 100,000 litres. This year the brewery has already taken orders for more beer than they brewed in the whole of 2009, predicting to end 2010 on around 250,000 litres.

But such a meteoric rise in volumes doesn’t surprise Mattias. He believes the brewery can increase capacity to 1 million litres per year. “After that we’d have some serious space issues at the brewery,” he says with a wry smile.

To meet the surge in demand for Sigtuna’s beers the brewery now employs another full-time brewer, Emil Lindén, who Mattias describes as the “hardest working man in brewing” while the brewery owners themselves often roll up their sleeves and spend their free time helping to bottle and pack beers.

“It’s very much a team effort here at Sigtuna”, says Mattias. “When we’ve got so many orders and deadlines to meet it’s a question of everybody getting stuck in”.

Mattias’s journey from enthusiastic home brewer to a leading figure in the Swedish craft beer movement has been as fast and frenetic as his taste in music.

In 2005 he was brewing beer at home but a visit to another fledgling Swedish microbrewery Dugges Ale & Porterbryggeri in Gothenburg was to set him on his path to becoming a professional brewer. After pestering Dugges’s owner to give him work experience he quit his job as a truck mechanic (“which I hated”) and spent a year learning the brewing process from the bottom up.

He then endured a particularly frustrating four months at Swedish brewing giant Spendrups, where he described his role as “opening and closing valves and pushing buttons more than anything to do with brewing beer”.

After qualifying from a two-year brewing course run by Ludvika technical college he was invited to step up to the big league and become Sigtuna’s first Head Brewer.

A look in the fermentation room at Sigtuna reveals rows of full tanks, each labeled with the name of a beer that will shortly be launched at the Swedish monopoly alcohol stores.

Story continues below…

While I was visiting, the brewing team were filtering 4,000 litres of East River Lager, a very drinkable, snappy US-style lager that‘s available in the Systembolaget’s ‘beställningssortiment’ (order catalogue) from the beginning of March.

Also being launched next month are not one but two Easter beers from Sigtuna. The first one, Röd Påsk is an American amber/red ale brewed with crisp US Centennial and Amarillo hops that has a strong malty backbone of chocolate and toffee. The second, Sigtuna Easter Ale, is exceptional, bursting with tropical fruit, sweet lychee and lemon flavours thanks to the addition of some generally unheard of Riwaka hops from New Zealand. Watch out for this one, as I’m already tipping it to be one of the best Swedish beers this year!

Add to this the forthcoming releases of ESB: Extra Sigtuna Bitter, described as a light bitter with malty tones and a pronounced bitter finish brewed using only British hops, Sigtuna Red Ale and Sigtuna Sommarvit, a Belgium-style wheat beer spiced with lemongrass, lime and orange and it’s obvious Mattias and the gang have their hands full.

“And we wouldn’t want it any other way”, he says, and smiles as he heads back into the brewery to turn the hard rock music back on.

See also: Guru's guide: The best beers in Sweden right now

Darren Packman is founder of www.beersweden.se

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

11:40 February 23, 2010 by Beavis
Nice to see this suceeding. Have to say the "big" Swedish beers taste like pee. I tend to tell people visiting, "pick any beer but avoid the Swedish ones" But looking forward to trying this out, and the guy seems to have good taste in music, always helps! Just hope he doesnt let one of the big breweries come in with an offer, theyll take over and add all their chemicals to the beer and spoil it.
14:32 February 23, 2010 by Åskar
Beavis, "Just hope he doesnt let one of the big breweries come in with an offer, theyll take over and add all their chemicals to the beer and spoil it."

Don't worry! These people would rather close their breweries down (I hope) than compromise with the quality of the beer. I was a bit worried, though, when I tried the Sigtuna beers at the Stockholm beer and whisky (Hey! Why does the spell-checker protest at the correct spelling of whisky?) fair a couple of years ago and talked to someone in their stand who was obviously not into the making of beer but rather marketing or something even worse. Not once did he refer to "our beers" or "our brands". The whole time he talked about "our products" in the best TV shop manner (djävla räknenisse!).
15:14 February 23, 2010 by BeerSwedenDarren
@Beavis - just to put your mind at rest I think Mattias would rather chop off his right hand (a rather dramatic thing to do if you're the drummer in a rock band) than brew beer with lots of chemicals in it.
17:55 February 23, 2010 by BeerSwedenDarren
Some breaking news....Sigtuna Brygghus today announced it is looking for 175 investors to put up 3,000 SEK to help expansion plans at the brewery in order to meet the record amount of demand for their beers. You can read about the offer over at my blog: http://www.beersweden.se/archives/1958
18:45 February 23, 2010 by Beavis
Good stuff! Best of luck to them.if I had a spare 3000kr..
12:08 February 24, 2010 by Thefall
Down with Spendrups!!
18:43 February 26, 2010 by square
Well done mate we need more brewers who have an absolute passion and love of the art of brewing. It makes life better for us beer lovers to have good quality unique beers. If you guys in Sweden think Spendrups etc is bad you should try Ringnes and Frydenlund, which is the main brew here in Norway, absolute crap.
00:19 February 27, 2010 by Beavis
Ah come on thats not the worst beer.. I think thats the perfectly named Åas.. and it tastes like...
Today's headlines
Löfven: 'Sweden will double its number of troops in Iraq'
Stefan Löfven and Haider al-Abadi during the visit on Monday. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven has promised to double his country's number of troops in Iraq following a meeting with Iraqi counterpart Haider al-Abadi on Monday.

Will Swedes soon be looking for fairtrade porn?
Should Swedes think fairtrade with porn? Photo: Karin Malmhav/SvD/TT

A fairtrade attitude to pornography would be beneficial, Sweden's health minister told The Local.

Presented by Stockholm University
Nordic fashion in focus at Stockholm University
Simon Paulin/imagebank.sweden.se

Nordic fashion took centre stage in the Swedish capital last week as Stockholm University hosted the “first-ever” academic conference looking at luxury and sustainability in the fashion industry.

Referee, coach and parents in Swedish youth football fight
File photo of a referee holding a red card not related to the story. Photo: Stefan Jerrevång/TT

A football dad broke his leg in the brawl in front of 11-year-old kids after a Hammarby youth football game.

Illicit abattoir kept more than 100 bulls' penises
A couple of young bulls not related to the story. Photo: Jonas Ekströmer/TT

Dried cattle genitalia, goats' heads and hundreds of litres of lard were just a few of the many strange finds discovered when police raided a property in Sweden.

This is officially Sweden's most beautiful beard
The most beautiful beard in Sweden. Photo: Memo Göcek

According to a jury of barbers and 'well known bearded profiles', that is.

Presented by Invest Stockholm
One expat's strategy for making friends in Stockholm

You might think it’s hard to make friends in a new city. But if at first you don’t succeed – try something else!

Injured Swedish photographer protected by 'guardian angel'
Swedish photographer Paul Hansen on another occasion. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Photographer Paul Hansen thanked his lucky stars for surviving sniper fire while covering the battle for the Isis-held city of Mosul in Iraq.

How Sweden is trying to smooth relations with Saudis
Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven meeting Saudi Arabia's Trade Minister Majid bin Abdullah Al Qasabi. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Löfven has visited Saudi Arabia a year and a half after relations turned frosty in a major diplomatic row.

My Swedish Career
'Swedish people love it, but they find it quite odd'
Scottish entrepreneur William Macdonald. Photo: Michael Campanella

Meet the web developer and entrepreneur using traditional Scottish ceilidh dancing to break the ice with Swedes.

Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
People-watching: October 21st-23rd
Sponsored Article
This is Malmö: Football capital of Sweden
Fury at plans that 'threaten the IB's survival' in Sweden
Analysis & Opinion
Are we just going to let half the country die?
Blog updates

6 October

10 useful hjälpverb (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! I think the so-called “hjalpverb” (auxiliary verbs in English) are a good way to get…" READ »


8 July

Editor’s blog, July 8th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hej readers, It has, as always, been a bizarre, serious and hilarious week in Sweden. You…" READ »

Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Angry elk chases Swede up a lamp post
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
The Local Voices
'Alienation in Sweden feels better: I find myself a stranger among scores of aliens'
People-watching: October 20th
The Local Voices
A layover at Qatar airport brought this Swedish-Kenyan couple together - now they're heading for marriage
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Swede punches clown that scared his grandmother
Sponsored Article
Swedish for programmers: 'It changed my life'
Fans throw flares and enter pitch in Swedish football riot
Could Swedish blood test solve 'Making a Murderer'?
Sponsored Article
Top 7 tips to help you learn Swedish
Property of the week: Linnéstaden, Gothenburg
Sponsored Article
‘Extremism can't be defeated on the battlefield alone’
Swedish school to build gender neutral changing room
People-watching: October 14th-16th
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Man in Sweden assaulted by clowns with broken bottle
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Nobel Prize 2016: Literature
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Watch the man who discovered Bob Dylan react to his Nobel Prize win
Sponsored Article
One expat's strategy for making friends in Stockholm
Record numbers emigrating from Sweden
Sponsored Article
Nordic fashion in focus at Stockholm University
People-watching: October 12th
The Local Voices
'Swedish startups should embrace newcomers' talents - there's nothing to fear'
How far right are the Sweden Democrats?
Property of the week: Triangeln, Malmö
Sweden unveils Europe's first elk hut
People-watching: October 7th-9th
The Local Voices
Syria's White Helmets: The Nobel Peace Prize would have meant a lot, but pulling a child from rubble is the greatest reward
Missing rune stone turns up in Sweden
Nobel Prize 2016: Chemistry
jobs available