• Sweden's news in English

Beer in Sweden: a look at new springtime brews

Darren Packman · 4 May 2011, 12:01

Published: 04 May 2011 12:01 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Now that Sweden's Walpurgis bonfires are nothing more than smoldering memories, it’s Systembolaget’s turn to celebrate the onset of spring with the May release of seven new beers in around 30 stores around the country.

First out is Bödeln IPA from the gang at Hantverksbryggeriet based in Västerås. I believe this might be the first time the brewery has managed to break away from their three closest Systembolaget stores, finally giving the rest of us a chance to try some of their excellent handcrafted beers.

And Bödeln (which means ‘the executioner’) is a beer that the brewery promises can do some serious harm to your taste buds with an aggressive American hop character of grapefruit and spice that leaves a long after-taste. Any beer that wins a Gold Medal at the Stockholm Beer and Whisky Festival is worth a punt in my book. Highly recommended!

Great Divide is a US brewery that I hugely admire. After all they’ve given us such beery classics as Yeti, Old Ruffian and Titan IPA. This Denver-based brewery brews the US way, and that means big.

However their track record with Belgium beer styles isn’t quite as impressive and in the case of their Grand Cru I’m not so sure I want to be drinking a sweet tasting 11 percent US-style Belgium strong ale now that the sun has made a comeback.

Grebbestad Lunator is a beer that has popped up for several years in the monopoly, although exactly when can vary from year to year. Again I feel this release is about as well timed as a Paul Scholes tackle, with another powerful beer that for me is best drunk during those long months when the sun struggles to crest the horizon.

Having said that this Swedish produced doppelbock is a finely crafted beer so you might want to do like me and buy a few bottles to squirrel away for when the snow returns.

It’s back to Belgium again with the fourth beer on the list but this time it comes from a brewery that I know understands Belgium beers beautifully. After all, Brouwerij De Ranke comes from there and who can forget their unforgettably puckering XX bitter?

Guldenberg is another Belgium Strong Ale (albeit slightly tamer in alcohol at 8.5 percent ABV) and I’m willing to bet De Ranke’s customary abundance of hops will scratch away much of the sweetness to deliver an assertively bitter and refreshing drink. For less than 27 kronor ($4.50) a bottle I’m all in.

Ichtegems Grand Cru is a beer I reviewed a year ago on my blog BeerSweden when I wrote of its smell: "a splash of vinegar, some light berry and red onion aromas and old leather" and of its taste: ”loads of wood throughout and the finish is tannic, dry and long”.

If you haven’t tried a Flemish red ale before this could be a good place to start.

Oh Mikkeller, Mikkeller, Mikkeller. Can you do no wrong? Is there nothing you can’t brew a beer with and catapult it to the top of the Ratebeer rankings? Take, for example, the idea of making a coffee IPA.

On paper it sounds like a train wreck and yet somehow this Danish brewing virtuoso manages to pull it off. I tried the first incarnation of this beer using a different (although equally impossible to pronounce) type of Ethiopian coffee.

Word is that this Odoo Shakiso version doesn’t quite reach the heights of the original but I for one want to find out for myself. A must buy!

Story continues below…

Finally we arrive at a beer produced by a pair of young Danish brewers who were inspired to start brewing after a late night conversation with their teacher – none other than Mikkel Borg Bjergsø (that’s the Mikkel in Mikkeller in case you were wondering).

To Øl Frontier IPA is exactly the kind of beer I do want to drink this spring, dry hopped as it is with heaps of Warrior, Simcoe and Centennial hops to deliver a sharp, fruity, floral taste with just enough muscle to ward off the crisp chill of a May evening.


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.

Darren Packman (news@thelocal.se)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

07:59 May 5, 2011 by Tdye
Is there a site I could buy this beer from and have it shipped to the States?
17:33 May 8, 2011 by jamesblish
How about we ditch the monopoly altogether?
14:14 May 9, 2011 by Åskar
How about we ditch the monopoly and limit our shopping to what the local Co-Op or ICA grocer thinks sells enough for him to bother to take home?
14:53 May 9, 2011 by Grindsprint
yeah, the biggest reason swedes want to keep the monopoly is that the monopoly demands that systembolaget satisfies all tastes, wich makes them carriers of such a wide product range. I´d vote keep it, even tho I hate the idea of a state monopoly in general for ideological reasons. I just wouldn´t want to lose a great chain of stores that probably wouldn´t hold the same quality in private hands. Sure the price would be lower, but I think it´s worth it. Maybe increase the opening hours a bit tho...
17:11 May 9, 2011 by jamesblish
No, that's not the main reason people want to keep it. People want to keep it because they've been told it's the best option. And they believe it.

The whole argument is flawed because although there is some truth to it and some liquor stores probably would be less well-stocked than others, no one seems to think that applies to anything else. What about restaurants? If I live in a 5 000 people town, do I have a "right" to choose between fifteen different types of restaurants? No, because that's the reality of a market-based economy and there's no money in selling sushi to 5 000 miners.

Btw, you could always order stuff if you're really interested, that's how a lot of smaller communities handle their liquor shopping even today. They order at their local grocery store and pick up their bottles a couple of days later.

I really dislike the monopoly. Mainly for ideological reasons but also because of the simple fact that most people seem to think we're such weak-minded people that we wouldn't be able to handle what basically EVERY OTHER country on the continent is perfectly able to - controlling our drinking habits without a state monopoly. I don't think we are and I don't think there are more alcoholics in Germany than in Sweden.

I hate getting a call from a buddy at six pm asking if I want to pop by for a couple of beers and a game only to find out the liquor store''s closed. No, I don't HAVE TO drink but the whole thing is frustrating and in some ways it limits people's social lives.

In the end, you've got to make up your mind whether a drug should be legal or not. If yes, then you've got to let people sell it. If not, then ban it altogether. This middle ground thing is pure bs. Being ideologically consistent is the key here. Something our polliticians seem completely unable to grasp.
07:55 May 10, 2011 by rquick
Keep the systembolaget, but extend it's opening times and days :)
03:24 May 22, 2011 by jamesblish
That goes against their policy. Their goal is to minimize consumption, yet they're still selling the stuff. So it's a question of keeping booze legal but making it hard as hell for people to get hold of it. If a buddy calls you at 15.00 on Saturday and asks you to grab a couple of beers and come over for a barbecue, you're screwed. No, you don't have to drink at a barbecue but you know what I mean. This is the absurd irony of having legal booze and selling it, but trying one's best NOT to sell it. A company that takes pride in selling as little as possible, that's Systembolaget.
Today's headlines
Gothenburg 'one of Europe's most segregated cities'
An Isis flag in Kirkuk, Iraq. Photo: Uncredited/AP

One in ten school students in Gothenburg's north-eastern suburbs sympathize with religious extremist organizations, according to a survey.

Julian Assange
Sweden won't suspend Assange warrant for funeral
Assange has been in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012. Photo: Alastair Grant/AP

The WikiLeaks founder has requested a temporary suspension of an arrest warrant so he could leave the Ecuadorian embassy in London for the funeral of his mentor.

Swedish football diehard who went viral doesn't get the fuss
Possibly the most dedicated fan in the world. Photo: Patric Söderström/TT

A picture of Gefle IF celebrating with the only fan to make a 1164km round trip to see them has gone viral. The Local spoke to the diehard in question.

'I want to see women priests in the Catholic Church'
Archbishop Antje Jackelén meeting Pope Francis earlier in 2016. Photo: L'Osservatore Romano/AP

'I told the pope last year during a speech it is time to no longer speak for women about women, but to speak with women,' Sweden's Archbishop says.

Sweden one of world's easiest places to do business: report
A meeting at a Stockholm office. Photo: Simon Paulin/imagebank.sweden.se

It is easier to do business in Sweden now than it was last year, according to a World Bank report.

This Swede has built a procrastinator's dream
Anders Åberg has built a website that allows you to hear what’s going on above the Earth. Photo: Personal & NASA

Ever wondered what's going on in the sky above the earth and in space? Now you can hear for yourself.

Presented by Malmö Tourism
Seven reasons why Malmö is the football capital of Sweden
Players from FC Rosengård, Sweden's most successful women's football team. Photo: Hangsna

It’s official, and anyone who tells you otherwise is wrong.

Fake police car driver seized after confronting real police
File photo of a police car. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Three men in a fake police car were left red-faced after they tried to stop a man in southern Sweden who turned out to be an off-duty officer.

This tiny bird can fly for ten months straight: scientists
The common swift while not in flight. Photo: Madis Veskimeister/Wikimedia

Swedish scientists have found that this bird stays in the air for almost a year without landing.

Why the Pope is visiting Sweden next week
Pope Francis in the Vatican. Photo: AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino

Pope to nail reconciliation agenda to Lutherans' door in southern Sweden.

Sponsored Article
Top 7 tips to help you learn Swedish
The Local Voices
Antonio, 19, is a Syrian refugee and porn actor hoping to change perceptions of refugees
Sponsored Article
‘Extremism can't be defeated on the battlefield alone’
People-watching: October 26th
Sweden cuts 2016 refugee forecast
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
One expat's strategy for making friends in Stockholm
Is Game of Thrones coming to Sweden?
Sponsored Article
Nordic fashion in focus at Stockholm University
Property of the week: Kungsholmen, Stockholm
Will Swedes soon be looking for fairtrade porn?
The Local Voices
'I simply don’t believe in nationality'
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Why we're convinced Game of Thrones is based on Sweden
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
People-watching: October 21st-23rd
Fury at plans that 'threaten the IB's survival' in Sweden
Sponsored Article
This is Malmö: Football capital of Sweden
Analysis & Opinion
Are we just going to let half the country die?
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Angry elk chases Swede up a lamp post
The Local Voices
'Alienation in Sweden feels better: I find myself a stranger among scores of aliens'
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
People-watching: October 20th
Sponsored Article
Swedish for programmers: 'It changed my life'
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
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Fans throw flares and enter pitch in Swedish football riot
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Could Swedish blood test solve 'Making a Murderer'?
Sponsored Article
One expat's strategy for making friends in Stockholm
Swedish school to build gender neutral changing room
Sponsored Article
Nordic fashion in focus at Stockholm University
People-watching: October 14th-16th
Man in Sweden assaulted by clowns with broken bottle
Nobel Prize 2016: Literature
Watch the man who discovered Bob Dylan react to his Nobel Prize win
Record numbers emigrating from Sweden
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?
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
jobs available