‘We give you the chance to drink through history’

History buff Tiffany Alnefelt, 30, met her Swedish husband while she was studying in Ireland. The pair now run an alternative tour for visitors to Stockholm, via some of the city's oldest pubs. Bobbie Carlson tagged along.

'We give you the chance to drink through history'
Tiffany Alnefelt (left) giving her debut tour: Photo: Private

Long wooden tables fill candle a candle lit room.  Cosy furs cover the seats and Viking shields and helmets adorn the walls.

This is the setting at Aifur, a well-known Viking bar in Stockholm's Old Town (Gamla Stan) and the first of four stops on the Stockholm Historic Pub Tour.  

What started as a mutual interest, has turned into an exciting part-time career for American expat Tiffany Alnefelt and her Swedish husband, Patrik.  

“We wanted to give you the chance to drink your way through Swedish history.”

“Last summer my husband and I were both reading a book called ‘The Four Hour Work Week’ by Tim Ferriss and we both thought it would be fun to find a side project we could do together, so this was in the back of our minds.”

“I took one of the free sightseeing tours around the city with my parents, and the next morning I woke up with the idea.” She adds, reflecting on the pub tours she had taken in London and Ireland.  

“I found there was a tremendous amount of history here.”

READ ALSO: 'There were no good brunch spots in Sweden'

Within a week, they had a website and a business plan and by October they would be hosting their first test run with a group of their closest friends. 

“Patrik and I work really well together as partners. He is very business-minded and supportive and I am the idea person.”

It was a very careful process to decide which pubs to include on the tour.  Each establishment was chosen for their quality, history and atmosphere. 

With this in mind, both realized it was vital to include Aifur as well as Den Gyldene Freden, the oldest restaurant in Stockholm.

“If they said ‘no’ then we wouldn't have been able to move forward,”  explains Alnefelt.  

The two pubs that would complete the tour are  Källaren Movitz and Monks Porter House.

“All four pubs were so positive and welcoming.”

After leaving Aifur, guests are guided through the cobblestone streets and told about the churches surprising involvement with drinking and Gustav Vasa’s exclusive mead cellar in Tre Kronor. 

The next stop is Den Gyldene Freden, where guests have the opportunity to sample the same spirits  that trubador Carl Michael Bellman drank with his friends as he wrote his famous songs.

Both Aifur and Den Gyldene Freden use recipes that are representative of the original from 17th and 18th centuries. 
“These recipes are very exclusive,” she adds. “ For example, you can only taste his specific snaps at Den Gyldene Freden, you cannot buy it at Systembolaget,” she adds, referring to Sweden's state-run alcohol monopoly.
“Next we take you through a very dark period in Swedish drinking history during the middle ages where drinking spirits had become rampant, to the extent that people had drank beer before,”  she explains.

Movitz Källare is the next stop, where guests get to sample porter, a dark brown beer made popular during the “Sobriety Movements” from the 18th century.  Guests learn about Sobriety taverns, The Rations Book,  and the bizarre “cures” for alcoholism during this time period. 

The tour finishes up at Monks Porter House, where guests get to sample three microbrews.

“I feel like by the time the tour is over I'm leaving a group of new friends,” explains Alnefelt.

Alnefelt says she and her husband try to keep an open dialogue with their guests and describes the tour as “interactive” 

“Most people share their own cultures, experience and drinking stories,”  she states. “By the third stop everyone is talking to each other, even if they started as strangers.”’

She says that luckily they have not had any problems with guests thus far because people aren't drinking in large quantities, “just enough to get a good taste!”

Alnefelt and her husband have hosted visitors not only from Sweden, but from various European countries as well as the United States and Canada. 

“The scariest tour I have given was when I had a Polish man and an Englishman who I could tell thought 'what is this young American girl is going to teach me about drinking?!’  But I won them over!”

“Most guests say they find us through Trip Advisor and through our Facebook campaigns,” Alnefelt explains, but her business also partners with gift firm Upplevelsepresent, event website Spontano and private tourism group Stockholm Info.

Currently, Stockholm Historic Pub tours take place on Thursday and Saturday evenings, but more dates may be added in the upcoming months based on demand.

The tour takes approximately 2.5 hours and the cost of six drinks is included in the ticket price of 495 kronor ($57). There are non-alcoholic options for those who are just interested in the history.

For others hoping to start a business in Sweden,  Alnefelt says: “I think its easy to feel overwhelmed about the rules and regulations when you are in a new place and even more so if you don't know the language.

“I don't see myself as an expert on giving business advice, but you just need to put yourself out there,” she says.

“And networking is super important!”.

All photos: Private

For members


Reader question: When am I eligible for a Swedish pension?

A reader got in touch to ask how long he had to work in Sweden before he was eligible for a pension. Here are Sweden's pension rules, and how you can get your pension when the time comes.

Reader question: When am I eligible for a Swedish pension?

The Swedish pension is part of the country’s social insurance system, and it can seem like a confusing beast at times. The good news is that if you’re living and working here, you’ll almost certainly be earning towards a pension, and you’ll be able to get that money even if you move elsewhere before retirement.

You will start earning your Swedish general pension, or allmän pension, once you’ve earned over 20,431 kronor in a single year, and – for almost all kinds of pension in Sweden – there is no time limit on how long you must have lived in Sweden before you are eligible.

The exception is the minimum guarantee pension, or garantipension, which you can receive whether you’ve worked or not. To be eligible at all for this, you need to have lived in Sweden for a period of at least three years before you are 65 years old. 

“There’s a limit, but it’s a money limit,” Johan Andersson, press secretary at the Swedish Pension Agency told The Local about the general pension. “When you reach the point that you start paying tax, you start paying into your pension.”

“But you have to apply for your pension, make sure you get in touch with us when you want to start receiving it,” he said.

Here’s our in-depth guide on how you can maximise your Swedish pension, even if you’re only planning on staying in Sweden short-term.

Those who spend only a few years working in Sweden will earn a much smaller pension than people who work here for their whole lives, but they are still entitled to something – people who have worked in Sweden will keep their income pension, premium pension, supplementary pension and occupational pension that they have earned in Sweden, even if they move to another country. The pension is paid no matter where in the world you live, but must be applied for – it is not automatically paid out at retirement age.

If you retire in the EU/EEA, or another country with which Sweden has a pension agreement, you just need to apply to the pension authority in your country of residence in order to start drawing your Swedish pension. If you live in a different country, you should contact the Swedish Pensions Agency for advice on accessing your pension, which is done by filling out a form (look for the form called Ansök om allmän pension – om du är bosatt utanför Sverige).

The agency recommends beginning the application process at least three months before you plan to take the pension, and ideally six months beforehand if you live abroad. It’s possible to have the pension paid into either a Swedish bank account or an account outside Sweden.

A guarantee pension – for those who live on a low income or no income while in Sweden – can be paid to those living in Sweden, an EU/EEA country, Switzerland or, in some cases, Canada. This is the only Swedish pension which is affected by how long you’ve lived in Sweden – you can only receive it if you’ve lived in the country for at least three years before the age of 65.

“The guarantee pension is residence based,” Andersson said. “But it’s lower if you haven’t lived in Sweden for at least 40 years. You are eligible for it after living in Sweden for only three years, but it won’t be that much.”