Have you ever heard of a supermarket trolley dash prize? You’re given a few minutes and an empty trolley which you can fill with whatever you can grab from the shelves before your time is up.
Sometimes beer festivals can feel like that.
With so many beers, so many happenings and so little time it’s sometimes difficult to know where to begin.
I’m not a huge fan of lists (I am, after all, the World’s Worst Ticker) but I do have a personal checklist of things I want to try at this year’s show and thought I would share it with you:
Eskilstuna Ölkultur, Pang Pang Brewery, Södra Maltfabriken and World’s Smallest Brewery (world’s coolest brewery name?) are among those making their first appearances at the festival this year so go along and give them all a big hug (and try their beers).
Oppigårds’ stand is always a must-visit, not just because of the Klassisk IPA they’re serving up (Ed note: this is not the only ‘old-world’ IPA coming to the show this year. Do I detect the start of a new beery trend?) but because they’ll actually be brewing beer on their stand on the first Thursday of the show. Cool initiative!
Who can forget Sigtuna’s Ace of Spades when it was released to huge critical acclaim last year? Well this year’s version promises to be different but equally outrageous and you’ll be able to try it first at Sigtuna’s stand.
Pilsner Urquell are rolling out their 2,700 litre barrel once again offering you a rare chance to try the original golden beer in all its unpasteurised and unfiltered glory.
Cask Sweden are letting the dogs out this year with a huge selection of BrewDog beers, including the läskigt and läskande Ghost Deer, which at 28% is the world’s strongest (non freeze distilled) beer. Oh. I should also mention for those of you brave enough to try it that it is poured from the mouth of a deer. BrewDog James will be at the festival during all days of the second week of the show and will be giving Master Classes every day (together with yours truly).
Brill’s stand is one of the first you encounter when you enter the hall and one of the hardest to leave, with the beery pulling power of a black hole (rather appropriate really). It’s also the place to go and pick up your free and exclusive BSF badge if you’re a BeerSweden Forum member. That way you can not only walk around the festival knowing you’re cooler than a polar bear’s toenails but fellow BSF-ers will be able to pick you out among the crowd. Who knows, it may be the start of an amazing beer friendship!
The Oliver Twist/Brewers Association stand is another place I guarantee you will happily lose a few hours. THE place to try your way through some of the very best US beers out there today in friendly sample measures, including, I note, some of the increasingly hard-to-get Dogfish Head beers. Go there. Nuff said.
One of my highlights of last year’s show was the Danish section and this year the invasion continues with Elixir Wines once again bringing over no fewer than 7 Danish breweries (and this one from Norway), including Amager, Raasted and Djævlebryg.
Carnegie Porter is an underestimated Swedish beer classic in my book (I’ve been lucky to taste delicious vintages as far back as 1988) but if you ever needed an excuse to discover it again this is the year to do it with the special limited release of Carnegie Porter Jubileumsbryggd brewed together with Brooklyn Brewery to celebrate the beer’s 175th anniversary. Grab a sample from Carlsberg’s stand at the show.
Lastly if a day at the beer festival isn’t quite enough there’s the ‘efterfest’ every night after the show at the Bishops Arms in Vasagatan. Here you’re pretty likely to bump into some of your favourite brewers and can grab a midnight snack with the kitchen staying open extra late and the bar serving some pretty amazing beers until 3am.
I realise I’ve missed out a lot of great stuff trying to keep this list ‘short’ (like these ones, or the Black IPA from this lot) but I hope you get a sense of how epic this show promises to be. So dive in, ask questions, explore beer styles you’ve never tried before and most of all have loads of fun.
And if you see a guy in glasses wearing a BeerSweden T-shirt and a thirsty look on his face come up and say hi. It might just be me