Monday, August 28, 2006


Going For Gothenburg

When the more serious trips are still weeks away, and the beer selection at home is shrinking dangerously, there is still hope for a craft beer enthusiast in Oslo. Gothenburg, or Göteborg as the locals call it, is just a four hour bus drive away, ideal for daytrip. Same size population-wise as Oslo, but many times greater beer-wise.

After a solid lunch we recovered from the bus trip and were ready for the natural first destination for any Norwegian going to Sweden, Systembolaget. It is the Swedish state liquor store with prices about half that in Norway (and thus twice those on the continent) and with much greater selection. Inside their outlet in the busy Nordstan shopping centre you hear Norwegian spoken everywhere.

Still it is a monopoly that cares little about great Swedish microbreweries. Only the beers from the Nils Oscar and Jämtlands micros are widely available- if you want anything from, say, the excellent Nynäshamn you have to order in advance at least 20 bottles of each beer. And yet they still find room for the undrinkable Victoria Bitter from down-under.

Luckily, Göteborg has its fair share of high-quality beer bars where you will find what the state liquor store does not care to sell you plus lots of Belgian goodies.

The Bishops Arms is a stylish British pub chain with two outlets in Sweden's second city. Upon entering I noticed a fridge packed with great Belgians. Furthermore, I find it a civilised tradition to offer small samples before making the customer commit to a pint. That said, it still annoys me that they don't bother to present a proper beer list- their whisky list promised much more commitment. The Västra Hamngatan outlet, housed in the basement of the Elite Park Avenue Hotel, only had two Swedish micros on tap. With Sir Winston Churchill staring down from the wall I felt I had no choice but going for Britannia, an English Strong Ale from the local Dugges microbrewery.

Better luck at The Delirium Cafe then, which I have compared it to its sister (or mother) in Brussels before. On draught was among others the Indianviken Pale Ale from Nynäshamn. Peachy golden with a very big creamy, offwhite head that left nice lacing, as you can see from the picture. What you cannot see is the complex apples and peary nose pairing with pine hoppiness. Good sweetness was matched by decent bitterness, the flavours coming out quite fruity with some tartness as well. Landing somewhere between a Belgian strong ale and an IPA, the beer showed off quite a bit of personality. Dugges Wallonia was another treat that was hard to resist at this Belgian beer café.

Refreshed after the Delirium experience, the highlight was still to be the "Haket Bar å Sånt", Bar and Stuff. Located in a working class area alongside the quays in the street of 1. Långgatan it offers a good view to the boats departing for the Scandinavian beer paradise, Denmark. This friendly establishment combines a beer specialist bar with a gay nightclub and a Japanese restaurant, living up to the "and Stuff" bit. Truth is that I may have tasted better sushi, but given the enthusiasm of the female owner and the fact that the bar stocked a good many top-range Swedish micros, including the splendid Nynäshamn Smörpundet Porter, stored one year in oak casks before bottling, this seemed like a minor hitch.

The bar is really close to another legendary Göteborg beer bar, the Rover. Unfortunately, neither opens until 5 pm on Saturdays and thus competing for the last hurrah for a Norwegian daytripper who has to return to the beer desert (and the customs officers guarding it- good thing you do not have to declare what is already inside your body!)

The Goths used to conquer the world, but these days it seems that the world has conquered the Goths. That is a good deal for the world!

If you were there on Saturday, we just missed each other. And you missed a porter tasting!
I think we missed each other by a week, actually! The porter tasting I also missed- (Baltic) porters still seem to rule the Swedish microbrewery scene, judging from the Ratebeer's best of Swedish beers.
Maybe we could do an excursion together when they launch the Chrismas beers!
That would be something to look forward to!
Är det sant att man bara får ta in två liter eller något liknande till Norge?
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