This is my first foray into Swedish beers. I went into my local liquor store hoping there would be one Swedish beer available and lo-and-behold, I found three Swedish brews from two different breweries. So naturally, I bought them all.
Before I get to the beers themselves, I want to talk about the Swedish craft beer scene. In the 1970s, a lot of mergers and corporate buyouts occurred, leading to a couple of giant macro-beer corporations edging out most of the smaller, independent breweries. These corporations produced what were largely considered to be bland lagers, similar to America’s macro-beers.
Luckily around 1990, consumers became more consciously aware of what products they were consuming and opted for more locally produced beers, thus growing the independent beer scene. This coincided with a rise in the number of Belgian and American ale imports entering the Swedish market. Interestingly, Sweden imports more than 15% of America’s beer exports, second only to Canada. In just the past decade, Sweden went from five craft breweries to over 100, with many more planning to open. It’s quite impressive for a country similar in size to California and home to roughly 10 million people.
In many ways, Sweden mimics a younger American craft beer scene.
Now to the beers.
The first two beers are brought to us by Dugges Bryggeri (Swedish for brewery) in collaboration with a nomadic brewer from Maryland’s own Stillwater Artisanal.
I first sampled Tropic Punch Ale, a fruit sour brewed with Lactobacillus and regular yeast and brewed and bottled in Landvetter. When I first poured it, it came out a murky yellow with no head and some sediment floating near the bottom. As I got closer, I got a whiff of the peach and a subtle hint of mango. When I sipped it, it was both sweet and tart. Most prominent was the peach flavor, followed by the mango, and maybe a little passionfruit. The crisp carbonation bounced gently on my tongue. Overall, it was a delightful sour, easily a great summer beer, especially coming in at 4.5%. A must-try for those who love sour peach.
The next beer from Dugges was simply titled Mango Mango Mango, another beer brewed with Lactobacillus. I was hoping for mango. The name actually stemmed from the two varieties of mangos used as well as the mango flavoring popping up from the Mosaic hops. The idea to use mango came from Magnus at Dugges Bryggeri, who believed they paired perfectly with beer.
Anyway, Thrice Mango came out a hazy yellow with a fast-fleeting small, white head. There was an obvious aroma of mango and the taste rang true to the smell. It was a tart mango in fact, giving it a nice sour finish. It felt thin with a crisp carbonation. It was a simple beer composed exceedingly well.
I cheated a little with this third beer. It was actually brewed through Crazy Mountain Brewing Company from Denver, Colorado, because until recently Omnipollo (the word-child of “omnipotent” and “chicken”), a Swedish duo composed of a brewer and graphic designer, started a brewpub and travelled the world contract-brewing, or as the Swedish say, “ghost brewing”.
Bianca was a gose brewed with salt (of course), mango purée, and lactose. It was their interpretation of a mango lassi gose – with lassi being a yogurt-based drink from India. It poured a light amber color with a minute white head and a scent of mango and grass. Unfortunately, the grass dominated my taste buds leaving only a smidgen of ripe mango to taste. It did have a nice twinge of sour to compliment the mango though. The carbonation and mouthfeel were a medium.
As much as I love mangos and goses, this was simply a good beer, not great. It does grow on you as it warms up a bit. I have heard a lot of positive reviews about this brew team (they brought out the Milkshake IPA with Tired Hands Brewing) so please don’t discount them based on my review. I know I will continue to try them.
My whole takeaway from tonight was that Sweden loves mango sours and I need to try a greater sampling of Swedish beers. I enjoyed this evening and I hope more Swedish beers become available in the American market.