VOTE FOR CANADA'S NEXT GREAT BEER FLAVOUR
STOCKHOLM BEER AND WHISKEY FEST
By Dougal Sharp
Well you Swedes have done it to me again. Today is Wednesday and I have only just started to feel normal again after visiting the Stockholm Beer and Whiskey Festival at the weekend. And I stopped drinking on Friday!
To say you guys know how to party is an understatement. I actually thought we Scots were kings of the world when it comes to celebrating, but once again I was shown that this simply is not the case. But what a great time I had.
I remember the first time I visited the fest in 2006 – it was a lot smaller, in only one hall. Back then we couldn’t afford our own stand so we were hidden under the bar on the Glenfiddich one. Around 10,000 people attended over both weekends. It was at this festival that I started to believe that Innis & Gunn might actually sell quite well in Sweden based on the incredible passion and knowledge about beer and whisky of the festival visitors.
Today is a very different story! A record breaking 38,500 people came along to this year’s show; it’s bigger and better than ever. It fills 6 huge halls now, offering thousands of varieties of beers and spirits to try. I actually managed to sample all of them. Twice.
Which of course lead to conversations like, “You have got to try these reindeer kebabs,” and, “Let’s not bother having dinner.” And it also lead to singing, dancing, party crashing, air guitar, getting lost, being thrown out of hotel rooms and Macdonalds. Yikes! You would think by the age of 41 I might have learned not to overdo it. But once again, my Swedish colleagues and friends proved to be too much fun to say no to.
What really impressed me about the show was its quality, and not just the quality of the facilities and the organisation. With very few exceptions the beers and whiskeys I tried were unbelievably good. They were served to me by people who not only looked good but who knew all about the products – how they were made, with what ingredients and what they might taste like.
Everyone was in a great mood, very friendly, and there were almost equal quantities of both men and women there. The bands were brilliant. If God himself decided to create a beer and whiskey festival, then it would be The Stockholm Beer & Whiskey Festival.
You should be very proud of this because where I come from its very different…
A beer festival in Britain normally involves warm, flat beer served in sweltering heat by people wearing tie-dyed T-shirts, luminous shorts and sandals with socks. The place would smell of stale sweat, farts and onions. You might be lucky enough to stand next to a girl at such an event, but she would have a face for radio and legs like an oil rig.
After an hour everyone would be too drunk to stand up. And starving. And so then there would be a fight over some spilled chips. Not really the sort of place you want to go to twice.
I think Stockholm Beer & Whiskey Festival is the best in the world of its type. It’s not just a show, it’s a showcase. And not just of the products available. It’s a showcase of Swedish mentality – quality, curiousness, willingness to sample and learn, respect, fun and friendship. And I am bringing all my mates next year.
I must mention that I was very impressed by the Swedish Craft Beers I tried. It is clear that the Swedish approach to beer making is a very good one because I detected none of the common flavour faults I find in Craft Beers elsewhere.
These companies have invested in the most important thing they can, which is ‘quality’. I don’t mean ‘flavour’ because that should be a given in Craft Beer. They have invested in making sure that, in addition to making very delicious beers; they are delivered with quality, free from flavour faults and in excellent condition. And that bodes well for the future of brewing in Sweden.
So not only does Sweden lead the way when it comes to design, car safety and 70’s pop. It can also teach us a thing or two about brewing and putting on a party! I might have to move there.
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