When I arranged a visit to Sweden for one of my colleagues, I said "oh, there's some great beer there, I should give you a shopping list". I didn't, but being a thoughtful chap he brought me back what he could. As I also failed to explain to him the alcohol sales system there, and he was stuck out in an airport hotel, I think the best he could do was some 7-Eleven. But he tried, and in fairness, I've never had such a range of 3.5% canned beers. Here we go:
Falcon Bayerskt, from Carlsberg Sverige, was first on my list, just because I kinda liked the can. It has a pleasant, if vague, grainy malt aroma and the flavour is... well... sinkable I guess. There's not much to it really. It's a little thin, with touches of toffee, a lick of something like a pear and, hold on, is that a hop back there? The finish is short and a little sweet, almost to short to be able to tell.
Stepping up a gear to the bigger brother, Falcon Extra Brew, which weighs in at a mighty 3.5%. Hold on a second. What's extra about that? It's bready, with a touch of apples. The flavour is also thin but seems ok until you swallow, at which point it delivers a disinfectant, slightly metallic shot that, thankfully, swiftly vanishes leaving you with... nothing. Perhaps a lingering suggestion of burst bubble wrap (figuratively and literally).
Moving swiftly onto Spendrups Premium Gold. I'm amazed I hadn't had anything from Spendrups till now, but what better way to start than with something with the word premium in the name? Yeah... Out of the can this is a thin-looking, pale gold with an attractive fluffy head, but it doesn't last long. The flavour is a touch bready and it has a kind of minty finish. Well chuggable, but leaves you wanting in the end. Maybe that's the idea?
Norrlands Guld felt like a carbon copy of the Spendrups at first, but it has a slightly grainy element to it, and a drier finish. If I had a choice, I'd probably go for this above the Spendrups, although there's a carbonic kick in the end that feels like heartburn will be soon to follow. Also a little disinfactanty.
Mariestads is also similar to the Spendrups (well whadda ya know? I just learned it's brewed by Spendrups as is the Norrlands Guld), but also drier, a touch more hoppy, all things being relative, and thankfully, softer than the Norrlands.
The last time I was in Sweden was just about two years ago, far to the north in Kiruna. To be honest, I can't remember what beers were on offer there, but it was cool to be 145 kilometers north of the Arctic Circle. It was April, and the sun just about dipped below the horizon at midnight. It was really odd seeing the boy racers hanging about in car parks trying to look cool in the bright night. I'd love to visit in winter.
The same colleague who brought back this lovely stash was in Virginia two weeks ago, and I know he's brought quite a selection back that will seem like a polar opposite to what he brought back from Stockholm. I can't wait. Thanks Rüdi!