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Harpoon Trip Day Two: (Stockholm/Nyopking/Nynashamn/Stockholm)

May 4, 2011

This blog entry is from Chris, Regional Sales Manager for Harpoon, reporting live from the annual Harpoon Employee European beer culture trip to Scandinavia. To learn more about the Harpoon Trip to Europe, read this post first.

Today’s Featured Brewery visits: Nils Oscar and Nynashamns Angbryggeri

We were greeted at the Nils Oscar brewery by Patrick, who gave us a quick history of the brewery before taking us inside for a tour and tasting. The brewery (one of the top craft breweries in the country) has been around since 1996 and produced approximately 6,000 7,200 hectoliters (6,000 barrels) of beer last year (to put that in perspective, Harpoon produced approximately 150,000 barrels in 2010). The bulk of what they make is their God (good in Swedish) Lager, but they recently introduced an IPA that will most likely become their second best seller in the near future.

In addition to sharing what were truly some remarkable beers (and asking us to wear fashionable brewery gear), Patrick enlightened us on the Swedish beer system. Beer in the off-premise retail market is controlled by a government-run monopoly, and breweries in Sweden need to pass all of their beers through that system via an application process in which they submit beers by style to be judged by the government tasters, who (they hope) will approve them. The next time you sit down to have a Harpoon IPA or one of our 100 Barrel Series beers, be thankful that we get to make and sell the beers that we know you’ll enjoy, and aren’t reliant on a subjective tasting panel to get our beer into your hands!

Our second brewery visit of the day took us to Nynashamns and the Nynashamns brewery, where Angela and Lasse provided a great tray of Swedish appetizers along with a sampling of their beers. Located close to the southernmost island in the Stockholm Archipelago, the brewery was actually founded by a collection of gentlemen who had founded a beer appreciation club, developed an interest in homebrewing and started brewing their own beer. Forgoing salary, they focused on making beer at night around odd jobs until the brewery grew to a scale that could support them, and they name every one of their beers after the islands in the area. They now employ 11 people (12 as of tomorrow) and sell approximately 5,000 hectoliters (4,000 barrels) of beer. Their dedication was infectious, especially in light of what seems to be a small (but growing) appreciation of Swedish craft beer. In fact, they do not have a single account that pours their beer in the town, and large breweries own many of the draft systems in area bars.

After a stop at the Icebar, we walked back towards Sodermalm in search of Akkurat, the best known and most respected beer bar in the country. Before we arrived, however, we stopped off for a refresher beer at a local bar and happened upon a local music college open mike. With three musicians in the group, it wasn’t long before Greg, our Boston sales manager, convinced the bar to let us squeeze in a song. Once we wrapped up ‘Hey Joe’, and after we were denied entry to another ‘private party,’ we decided to leave on a high note and head over to Akkurat, where we ran into Dan and Charlie for another round of beers (including a Cantillon Lambic draft and a bottle of beer that Akkurat guest-brewed). After a long day, it was great to be able to repay the kindness of the breweries we visited by buying some of their beers at Akkurat.

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