Two Sides of Sweden

25 Oct
Must Do in Sweden

  • Omnipollo hatt
  • Fotografiska
  • Walking tours of Stockholm
  • Visit the countryside

During my two week adventure throughout Scandinavia, I made it to Sweden on two different occasions. The first was sandwiched in the middle of my Denmark trip, and the second time was at the end of my trip post-Norway. The former was a one day one night trip spent on a small Swedish island while the latter was a couple days spent in the largest and most metropolitan of Swedish cities. I got to see two very different sides of this lovely country, and I enjoyed every minute of it.

Our intrepid trio rented a car in Copenhagen to make the drive across the Øresund strait and into Sweden. The bridge was both beautiful and expensive to traverse. While driving north towards our island destination of Lyr, we made a lunch stop at Laxbutiken, a roadside oasis offering delicious fresh salmon and other treats in an upscale cafeteria style environment. I had some tasty snacks along with the restaurant’s own Folk Pilsner, a nice easy drinking beer to start the day. The remainder of the drive was absolutely breathtaking as we passed over multiple bridges, various waterways, cliffs with ocean views, and small winding passes. We eventually arrived at Lyr and took a ferry over to the small island. Danielle’s “aunt” (a long-time family friend) greeted us on the other side and guided us down the road to her place. Their property housed two incredibly charming cottages, the original being where we would stay for the night. After getting settled, we sat down on their porch and got to know each other as any respectful global citizen should: over some beers. Her family was considerate enough to stock up on some local Swedish brews from Mora Bryggeri. I had their Pilsner and Amber which were nothing special yet also quite splendid in the moment. Perfect weather on an idyllic Swedish island will have that effect.

 

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We did some exploring on the island and hiked up a rocky hilltop giving us panoramic views of the island and surrounding nature reserve. We even got to walk through a neighbor’s barn and pet all their baby sheep! Continuing our exploration a little bit later, we trekked across the island through fields and forest to a family member’s home. Swedish hospitality, beers, snacks, and global geopolitical conversations greeted and entertained us for a couple hours before heading back home for a late dinner. Much to my delight, moose was on the menu, and I can report that it was beef-like and very tasty. Served with fresh local asparagus, mushrooms, and potatoes, we were treated to a lovely Swedish meal. The fruit sorbet-like dessert was also quite nice. Late night card games and more drinking rounded out our evening.

 

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We awoke in the morning and were shortly served with a marvelous breakfast of fresh baked bread, local fruits, bacon, and something else I’m surely forgetting. Our time in the Swedish countryside was sadly coming to an end. This would be the conclusion of the rural side of our Swedish adventures.

At the latter part of our Scandinavian trip, Danielle and I took a Wednesday morning train from Oslo to Stockholm. Train riding in Europe means drinking even if it is 6:30 AM. A homemade mimosa concoction would do the trick.

 

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Since we had arrived into the city fairly early, we needed somewhere to drop off our bags. Fortunately Danielle had another cousin in Stockholm, and we went to his place first. After shedding our luggage, we all went for a little stroll through the city. Danielle’s cousin told us about his home and took us to an awesome lookout spot with views of the river and most of the city. We did not have any big plans for the day other than wandering around and the requisite beer drinking. While the former requires no direction, some research led us to accomplish the latter at Oliver Twist, an English pub-like bar with an excellent selection of draft and bottles. For my first beer in Stockholm, I had to try a Swedish brew, so I ordered a nicely citrusy Orange Haze from Dugges. It was not as cloudy as most American haze bombs, but it still packed nice juicy citrus flavors. A Pale Ale from Electric Nurse was pretty standard fare, and we were off to exploring once more after that. We made our way over to another one of Stockholm’s 14 islands and landed at The Burgundy, a restaurant / wine bar with sidewalk seating perfect for people watching. It was a great place to rest our feet and soak in the sights and sounds of the oldest part of Stockholm. There is an upstairs bar, Tweed, which apparently has great cocktails and rooftop views, but we were not able to make it there during our trip.

Ain’t that quaint as can be?

Our next stop was Soldaten Svejk, a Czech tavern serving traditional Pilsners and Eastern European fare. After a beer enjoyed at a sidewalk table, the (beer) part of Stockholm I was most excited about had arrived. Omnipollos hatt is a pizza pub offshoot of the eponymous brewery. Not only do they serve their delicious and often zany beers, they make some amazing wood oven pizzas. You may remember this Swedish brewery from my soft serve beer experience at MBCC. They were up to the same antics at this location, and I was obviously suckered into pairing their Aniara Pale Ale with a topper of frozen lemon juice. While this is definitely gimmicky, the result is quite tasty as the citrus lemon profile of the beer blends well with the frozen concoction. I appreciate ingenuity in beer, and I’ve seen ideas a lot dumber than this. And just look at it! There is definitely some coolness in the creativity.

 

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The delightfully hazy Fatamorgana paired well with my pizza. Omnipollo overall makes really great beer even if it is a little out there sometimes. Because it wouldn’t be a proper Omnipollo experience without trying one of those crazy beers, I finished things off with Bourbon Barrel Aged Noa Pecan Mud Cake. Thick, rich, and smooth flavors of chocolate, pecans, and vanilla are accentuated by a little bit of boozy bite. I had climbed the mountain of fuckboi, and I was damn proud and buzzed from it. As happens with all mountaineers, I had to descend the slopes, and the path led me back to our Airbnb where I would be getting my sleep on.

 

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Thursday morning we woke up with one thing on our mind: Swedish meatballs! It would be a damn shame if we didn’t eat some good meatballs while in Sweden, and our brief research led us to Meatballs for the People. In addition to traditional Swedish meatballs served with accompanying accoutrements, we tried the weekly special which was moose. The meatballs were great, and I washed them down with Shogun Bulldog JIPA (Japanese IPA) from Gotlands Bryggeri. Next on our agenda was a visit to the Fotografiska, a photography museum with rotating exhibits and no permanent collection. I found the exhibits at the time to be fascinating. The provocative works of Ellen von Unwerth were images I had seen before all over magazines and prominent brands but did not know who they were from. Christian Tagliavini’s hyper-detailed costume photography presented a level of obsession I had not witnessed before in creating a specific image. On the top floor of the museum, the cafe offers lovely views of Stockholm’s water and multiple islands. The cafe also had a couple beers available, and I went for another Gotlands IPA, Sitting Bulldog.

 

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While most of the sights we had taken in during our trip were self-guided, Danielle wanted a more intimate view of the local history. To satisfy this desire, she found a walking tour of the area near our Airbnb, Södermalm. This was a former poor area of the city but has recently become very hip. The tour guide was excellent and provided unique insight into the city’s past and how that has led to its current state. One of the most interesting facets of modern Stockholm life is the “latte papa.” Swedish parents are given 480 days of paid parental leave when having or adopting a child. This time is split between the 2 parents, and 90 days of exclusive time are reserved for each parent. Because of the generous paternal leave, the parenting fathers can often be found walking about the city with strollers and stopping into cafes for coffee or latte, hence the term latte papa. The rest of our time in Stockholm was spent by us looking for these happy dads and pointing them out to each other. There is certainly something to be said for the Swedish way of life.

With our newfound knowledge of historic and modern Stockholm, we were ready for a local brewery. Nya Carnegiebryggeriet was on another island. As it was started by the Brooklyn Brewery brewmaster, I had high expectations for their beer, but I quickly became disappointed. The building is a very nicely appointed modern structure situated next to the water. We sat at the bar, and I ordered a flight so I could taste a variety of their offerings. Their Brooklyn pedigree apparently did not cross the Atlantic in an acceptable manner, leaving a selection of beers ranging from bland to just bad. Their 100W IPA was the most palatable, but even it left a lot to be desired. I was at least able to salvage an Insta-worthy photo out of the botched visit.

 

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Wanting a bite to eat and some satisfying booze, we found a nearby restaurant and cocktail bar, Fandado. The chic environment and excellent cocktails brightened our moods, and the very friendly bartender showcased for us an engineering marvel, this metallic brick that uses ambient heat and gravity to turn a block of ice into a perfect sphere. We had him explain the entire process and demo it multiple times, and we were mesmerized to say the least.

A circuitous light rail ride across the city took us to Hornstulls Bodega, a cozy and intimate spot with a respectable beer and wine list. The Omnipollo Zodiak was an excellently hopped IPA that quickly reminded me that there was good Swedish craft beer. I followed that up with another nice IPA from another very good Swedish brewery, Stigbergets. Their Muddle IPA was simply excellent, using oatmeal to lend a creamy mouthfeel that complemented the Columbus, Simcoe, and Citra hops. The beers from these two breweries alone are enough to put Swedish craft beer on the map. The time had somehow become midnight, so we headed back to our place to rest up for our last full day in Sweden.

A morning stroll and perusal of some outdoor and indoor markets eventually led us to Carl’s Deli inside the Hotorgshallen food market. I was not expecting to stumble upon amazing Italian food, but that is exactly what happened. I had incredible lamb risotto and washed it down with an Italian amber ale. It was a hearty lunch but certainly worth every calorie. Danielle had another city tour planned for us, so thankfully we would be walking off some of those calories. This time we were touring historic Old Town Stockholm, seeing various government buildings and learning about their history. For the amount of information learned from a knowledgeable local, the walking tours are a great and affordable way to familiarize oneself with and gain a greater historical appreciation of a city.

Danielle descending some tiny stairs

After the walking tour, we took advantage of one of the coolest features of large Scandinavian cities, their public transportation via boats. We ventured to the island containing the local amusement park, Gröna Lund. While we did not want to spend our last day riding the rides, we were able to laugh at the screams emanating from the roller coaster beside the boat dock. Before the next boat arrived, we had time to pop into the local Irish sports bar, O’Learys, for a quick beer. The Home Run Pale Ale from Backyard Brewery, a subsidiary of Carlsberg, was my brew of choice. It wasn’t particularly good, but it did hit the spot. We finished our beers in time to catch the next boat towards Stockholm’s own Mikkeller Bar. If you’ve read about our other Scandinavian adventures, you’ll know that we went to approximately 1,000 different Mikkeller breweries, bars, bottle shops, and even an eponymous beer festival. We sampled several beers including an odd yet interesting Gluten Free Hazy IPA and the incredible SpontanCherry Frederiksdal, an oak aged sour cherry ale. It was perhaps the best sour beer I’ve ever had from Mikkeller, and I have had tons of their sours (44 to be exact according to Untappd).

It was nearing time for our special Stockholm dinner, so we headed towards the Vasastan area of town where the restaurant was located. We had a little time to kill and chose to pop into Erlands for some classic cocktails. It was a very cool spot with fantastic drinks and jazz on the weekends. The time for our fancy dinner had arrived, so we walked the remaining couple blocks to Sushi Sho, a Michelin star sushi restaurant. We deserved a “treat yoself” dinner on the last night of our Scandinavia trip, and we figured a Michelin star would hit the spot. We had many courses of various fish and other dishes to go with a full sake pairing and a couple Hitachino White Ales. The meal was right up there with the Tsukiji Fish Market as the best sushi experiences of my life. All 13 courses were phenomenal. The Swedish Mackerel might have been my favorite fish, and the soy cured egg and tuna was such a unique and incredible combination of flavors. By the end of the meal I was properly food and booze drunk and riding the high of an amazing experience. We headed home when we left the restaurant and called it a night.

 

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Our final day overseas would not be without some more activities. Danielle had another set of cousins who lived in Sweden, and we were meeting up with them for lunch. As we were packing up to head out, we still had a couple beers I was not planning on bringing home with me, so we enjoyed some very tasty 10 AM brews. FRESH FRESH FRESH from Dugges was an excellent IPA straddling the line between hazy and more traditional. The tropical flavors were phenomenal. Another awesome Swedish brewery and hoppy beer, Mackaper by Omnipollo, rounded out our fridge cleaning exercise.

 

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After dropping off our bags at the cousin’s apartment, we walked to lunch at Mälarpaviljongen, an outdoor restaurant floating on a pier above the water. I enjoyed the traditional Swedish dish of toast skagen which was a piece of toast topped with a mixture of prawns, fish, and roe. A prominent dill flavor livened it up even further. The food went well with the Popular Demand IPA and Mikkeller Mälarpaviljongens Pale Ale brewed especially for the restaurant. You know your restaurant is pretty special when Mikkeller is brewing one-off beers for you. It was great meeting more of Danielle’s family and enjoying the perfect weather alongside the water. We even got to see a boat made to look like a swan! Top notch brunching when you have goofy aquatic craft for added entertainment.

Toast skagen in all its glory

Our time in Sweden was over, and we found our way to a bus that would take us to the airport. Once through security, we naturally beelined towards a lounge and proceeded to drink some free booze. The free beer was meh, and then there was the baffling 2.1% beer that was truly awful. I don’t know why anyone would bother making a 2% beer, but apparently it’s a thing. Our 2 week Scandinavian trip was over, and Sweden had been a lovely final destination. We were once again blessed with good weather, and we got to see two different sides of Sweden, both beautiful and lovely in their own ways. Until my next beerventure, skål!

Britt Antley

Britt is a native Texan, lived in Houston for 12 years, and is excited about his recent move to the Big Easy (although his liver is having second thoughts). His liver is also not nearly as proud of his 7600+ Untappd uniques as he is. Stupid liver. He loves flavorful complex beers from juicy IPAs to fruited sours to barrel aged stouts, and he has vowed to some day be buried with a 4-pack of Yellow Rose.