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Day Drinking with Two of Sweden's Best Beer Buddies

As the summer carries on with +90 degree heat across the US, my mind keeps drifting back to my adventures in Sweden where it was sunny, breezy, and a cool 70 degrees by the water all day long. It made for impeccable day drinking.

And there was no finer outing than the afternoon Hillary and I spent with the boys from 99 Bottles, one of Sweden’s most prominent beer review blogs. Tobias, the blog’s founder and local Swede, along with Joao, designer and Portuguese expatriate, met up with me at a local park, Ivar Los park, behind a large wooden gate in NE Sodermalm, known for it’s laid back atmosphere and fantastic views of the city. And we all came heavy with some stand-out beers.

I sherpa’d a bottle of Deschutes 2011 Abyss across the pond, along with a recent acquisition of Founder’s Kentucky Breakfast Stout and a copy of Mash Tun. While these bottles hadn’t aged to perfection quite yet, they were certainly a great introduction to some of America’s best brews. As we passed them around, sip by sip, it was clear how special this beer was.

Like the States, Sweden is focused primarily on IPAs, pale ales and pale lagers. But the US also has a strong undercurrent of heavy stouts, porters and barrel aged beers that inspire long lines, online trading and general hoarding in the beer cellar. Sweden has their representative examples, some of which are more than just comparable to an Abyss. such as Närke Stormaktsporter. But in general, these are much more rare than in the US and command insane prices. My 10oz bottle of Närke was $40.

Tobias and Joao had the local advantage and decided to share a great variety of Swedish microbrews. We started with the Oppogårds Summer Pale Ale, a bright, bitter, American-style pale with subtle caramel malt finish. The Evil Twin (Denmark) / Omnipollo (Swedish) collaboration called Russian Roulette is a unique IPA concept. An IPA brewed in two styles, black and golden, it’s a mystery which you’ll get until you pop it open. We got the golden IPA with a big citrus aroma, slightly astringent, but dry, grassy and smooth on the finish. We worked through a few more, but we saved two, the Nils Oscar Jubileum 15 and the D. Carnegie Porter. Those guys found their way into some luggage.

As our afternoon in the park came to a close, we decided to stop off at the local Bishop Arms for one last drink. The Arms is a chain of English-style pubs in Sweden, and some are more ambitious than others. I’m happy to recommend the one on Bellmansgatan. Roland, the barkeep, was incredibly knowledgable, friendly, and happy to help us navigate the local line-up of microbrews. And he pours a perfect pint.

I finished a stellar afternoon with the Nynäshamns Sotholmen Extra Stout, rich with coffee, anise and intensely bitter flavors bordering on sour. It was complex and heady — a great send-off.

So where are they now? Tobias is here! He’s exploring the American South, from Texas to Florida in search of incredible brews. If you have some advice for him, head over to the 99 Bottles blog now and help him on the trail!

Michael Kiser