Thursday, June 25, 2015

What to Drink in Sweden

Swedish Beer

Heading to Sweden?  Wondering what kind of tasty alcoholic beverages characteristic to Sweden you’ll find on the drinks menus?  Here are the local drinks you can expect to enjoy when traveling through Sweden.


Nausta and Kallholmen Swedish Beer

Beer is the drink of Sweden.  Similar to the United States, Sweden is embracing the growth of craft brewing.  Five years ago there were 30 craft breweries in the country while today there are 150.  The Swedish beer culture is quickly expanding and breweries are constantly trying out new flavors.  We were surprised how popular IPAs were throughout Sweden, though they taste nothing like the hop-centric west coast IPAs of California.  Even Swedish Lapland has its own local beer.

Pubologi Beer Pairing Pang Pang Brewery Swedish Beer

Beer is so popular that many fine dining restaurants offer beer pairings for their set menus in addition to the usual wine pairings.  In fact, we dined at a few restaurants that actually worked with a local brewery to develop a line of beers strictly for the restaurant.   For instance, one of our favorite restaurants in Stockholm, Pubologi, paired up with Pang Pang Brewery to create a lineup of five very different beers to pair with their five course menu, all named after staff members of Pubologi.  The evening we dined at Pubologi the beer list included Soffan, a fruity Belgian-style blond ale; Samuele, a juniper Mombasa Gin infused pale ale; Solo & Dan Japan, a Dewasakura Ichiro Sake infused rice gluten-free ales; and Big Malta, a smoked porky port porter literally infused with a smoked pig.


Facile Swedish Punsch

Swedish punsch was a drink that was popular in the 18th century.  It was mixed in a large porcelain bowl and oddly contained many ingredients that weren’t Swedish like Indonesian arrack (a distilled spirit), lemon, and tea.  Arrack first arrived in Sweden in 1733 on the East Indian Company’s first ship.  Because of its exotic ingredients, punsch was very expensive to make, but became more readily available towards the end of the 19th century when it began being delivered readymade in bottles. 

The traditional way to drink Swedish punsch is to drink it warm as an accompaniment to pea soup.  We enjoyed Swedish punsch in a more untraditional manner, in a mixed drink at Tweed called the Gothenburg, made with Facile XO, aquavit, grenadine, and lemon juice. Facile XO was created in 1993, was the first new punsch Sweden received in 76 years, and has been served six times at the Nobel dinner at the City Hall in Stockholm.


ICEBAR Vodka Cocktails Swedish Drinks

I’ve always thought of vodka as being from Poland or Russia, but it’s actually also very popular in Scandinavia, especially Sweden.  In fact, one of the most well-known brands of vodka, Absolut Vodka, comes from Sweden.  Before Swedish vodka was called vodka, it was known as brännvin, which means burn-wine.  A fun place to have vodka that is also very Swedish is one of Sweden’s ice bars.  Sweden has an ice bar in Stockholm and, of course, an ice bar at the original ice hotel.


Aquavit is a popular distilled spirit in all of the Scandinavian countries.  Aquavit is a special kind of vodka spiced with caraway or dill.  Aquavit is incredibly popular in Denmark (where it is called snaps) and was served everywhere we went, oftentimes enjoyed with pickled herring.  While we saw aquavit on many menus throughout Sweden, we didn’t really see it being drank much.  In Sweden, aquavit is often enjoyed along with smörgåsbord, a buffet of hot and cold dishes which originated in Sweden.  Towns and regions of Sweden have their own special blends of aquavit, and the classic Swedish blend contains caraway, aniseed, and fennel.

Katherine Belarmino has been traveling for over ten years on a quest to see as much of the world as possible, experience new cultures, and sample other cuisines and libations. She also writes the travel blog Travel the World, which journals her world travels with her husband Romeo and seeks to encourage others to take the time to travel.