Let me tell you a short story about my long friend Håkan.
I first met Sweden’s biggest man after landing my first job since moving here from England working as a personal assistant to a physically disabled guy called Pär that I had only recently met.
Håkan, who had many years of care experience, quickly became my go-to buddy, teaching me everything from how to operate a wheelchair to how to bet on the horses (Pär loved a flutter and I spent many hours with him carefully investing his money with local bookmakers).
He’s also a seriously good beer drinker. I remember him coming over to England a couple of times with Pär while my wife and I lived there and his drinking prowess quickly became famous, causing landlords to break into a sweat, rush down to the cellar and check whether they had enough casks to make it to closing time.
Håkan is what I would respectfully describe as a ‘volume’ drinker. He wasn’t so much concerned about what beer he drank but he was concerned that there was a lot of it. I’m sure many of you have got a friend like Håkan too.
Now what has all this got to do with Free Beer, the new collaboration from Sweden’s Omnipollo and Denmark’s Evil Twin Brewing you may ask?
Well as I was sipping on my second helping of this antipodean inspired IPA when Håkan walked into the bar and was about to order some Czech lager and a Newcastle Brown before someone recommended he tried the Free Beer.
A few minutes later he came back to the bar with a slightly confused look on his face. “Is this really beer?” he asked me, before draining the glass. “I would never normally drink something like this.
“But” he added, grinning, ”I like it”!
And that right there is the best thing about today’s countrywide launch of Free Beer.
Yes it’s a very competent IPA with a juicy aroma of kiwi, passion fruit and gooseberries and is a smooth drinking beer with a crisp and modest bitter finish.
But more than that it got Håkan drinking a craft beer for probably the first time in his life. And I’ll wager there were plenty of other Håkan moments occurring across the country this afternoon.
*Pär was one of the most inspirational people I’ve ever had the good fortune to meet. His never once let his handicap define him and I’ll always cherish the memories of the times we drank beer together. Sometime a little too much, resulting in wild wheelchair rides back home.
I think of you often my friend..