A day at the world's third largest beer festival.
STOCKHOLM BEER AND WHISKEY FESTIVAL
For the twenty-third year in a row, the Stockholm Beer and Whisky Festival treated the public to international competitions, courses, tastings, master classes, food and much more. The festival is the third largest beer festival in the world, and this year more than 37,000 visitors attended over two weekends. Food Loves Beer was there, of course, together with a lot of other friendly beer lovers and brewers, surrounded by some of the best beers in the world. It doesn't get much better than that!
Blueberry Bulldog - "Mother's Little Bulldog", a Blueberry IPA from Gotlands brewery, was one of the many fruit beers on offer.
Finn Brown Ale - A first at this year's festival was the new Swedish microbrewery hall, dedicated to small scale, up-and-coming Swedish breweries. That's where Brewhouse Finn was located, but size didn't prevent their Brown Ale from raking in two medals: a gold for Best Swedish Draught Beer, regardless of style, and a silver for Best modern-style session ale.
Flying High - It's a beer-tastic jungle out there, and even if your microbrewery is putting out good beers, you need to work hard to get noticed. And for Flying Brewery out of Dalarna, Sweden, marketing's a breeze! Their bottles, packaging, coasters and posters all feature beautifully-drawn aviators, each representing a different beer.
Oppigårds - Sylvia Falkeström pours a White Wachdog IPA while she tells us about how Swedish craftbrewers are banding together against established brewery giants, in the hopes of together gaining a larger market share. They took home 4 medals this year, and in 2013 they won more gold medals than any other brewery at the festival!
Important Importers - Galatea Spirits AB is the industry-leader in imported beer in Sweden and is also the largest beer importer in all of Scandinavia. Located smack in the middle of the grand hall they had over 75 beers available, from countries such as the USA, Belgium, Germany and England.
Sensational Collaboration - In August, Grant McCracken from Sam Adams jumped aboard the collaboration express and came to Sweden to brew with Jessica Heidrich of St Eriks. Their creation, Transatlantic, is a Belgian Red Strong Ale made with Swedish lingonberries and American cranberries. It made its world premier at the festival, and was for us, the most exciting beer of the evening!
It's For The Folks - "Folk beer" is a truly Swedish phenomena. While "Strong beers" are only available through the state-run liquor monopoly, folk beer (between 2.25 and 3.5%) can legally be sold at supermarkets. In Sweden you can find 3.5% variants of everything from Guinness, to Pilsner Urquell. But none of those stood a chance against Södra Maltfabriken, who won 3 different folk beer medals! But don't call them lightweights, their 7% IPA won them a silver!
Food Loves Guinness - Imagine our delight to find that at least one food truck parked in the festival's outdoor food court was cooking with beer! We opted for the healthy alternative and gobbled down some delicious Guinness-battered mushrooms! Yum!
Brutal Brewing - Brutal brewing is controlled and operated by employees of Spendrups (the largest Swedish-owned brewery in Sweden) on a “free time” basis. You could say they are like gypsy brewers who never have to move. They all have their regular day jobs at Spendrups, and then they have fun creating their own great beers in the evening! Their Pistonhead Dark, a festival-only brew, took home bronze in the Best Swedish draught beer regardless of style.
Black Magic - Sigtuna Brewhus is good at a lot of things, but it has to be said that they are GREAT at porters and stouts. Two years in a row they won Best Swedish Microbrew of the Year, voted by the Swedish microbrewers association! So of course we had to try both winners: Midvinterblot Imperial Porter (2014) and Bourbon Imperial Stout (2013).