Thursday, September 18, 2008


Stockholm - day 4 - Beer!

Eventually, after much negotiation and herding of cats, I managed to arrange to go to the beer festival with two other Microsofties. The trip there also included a ferry to add some scenic interest and a chance for Niklas to demonstrate his extensive local knowledge. First József and I had to go back to the hotel, dump our stuff, and jump on to the metro into Stockholm - not too bad as we managed to get to the train just as it arrived. Second we had to get to the boat from the station. Luckily we had a map. Unluckily we couldn't read the road signs properly which meant we actually started to doubt the mass-produced printed tourist map - like that was going to be wrong. Kungsträdgården ("King's Garden") has - unknown to us - three exits which are nearly 400m apart. Because, they are so far apart, you don't always spot the other exits when you look at the map. So on the map we thought we should be on the junction of Kungsträdgårdsgaten and Arsenalsgaten but next to us was the junction of Regeringsgaten and Jakobsgaten. Unfortunately about 800m away is the junction of Regeringsgaten and Jakobsbergsgaten so if you don't take time to read the signs, you get really confused. Luckily some polite locals helped out and pointed us in the right direction. With lost time through confusion and having taken the further exit from the station, we had to move it to be in time for the last boat of the day. Shortly we were at Nybroplan and ... wondering which of the many boats was ours. Luckily, Niklas was there waiting for us and the boat hadn't arrived yet so the panic was over.
The ferry ride on the M/S Ballerina was cheap at 40 SEK and the 4 mile, 3-stop trip showed a surprising amount of Stockholm. Well, surprising if you haven't yet grasped how much waterfront there is in the city and that everything is one island or another.

Soon we were at Nacka Strand where there is a bergbanor (funicular). You immediately dismiss this as a tourist gimmick until you start climbing the 30 degree, 90m slope staircase. My leg muscles certainly thanked me after that - the only consolation was that the young whipper-snapper József found it tough-going to. As none of us knew exactly where the festival was, we assumed the wisest policy was to follow the groups of men in front of us and soon we arrived at the Factory.

The entrance fee to the festival was 170 SEK which got you a special glass with 150ml and 300ml levels.

Beer glass

That's my authentic Finnish reindeer leather wallet on the left.


First drink of the night was Hell... from Jämtlands bryggeri AB (Östersund, in mid-Sweden)

The price was 15 SEK for a 150ml "taster", so a proper pint would have cost 57 SEK, or nearly £5.00. At the time I didn't quite remember how many millilitres there were to a pint - it's 568 and not 453 (which is the number of grams in a pound) - so I was calculating 3 tasters to the pint rather than nearly 4 and not getting the proper price in my head.

Next was a bottled beer that I didn't get a snap of - it's still tricky to go around photographing everything with a phone without getting embarrassed. I did get a shot of the brewery badge on the stand but this turned out hard to read and didn't match any company on the list.

Until I noticed the lighthouse on the left showing it to be the Grebbestad Bryggeri from the Swedish west coast.

Across the aisle was a more reasonably priced (although this is relative) beer at 10 SEK for a taster - the Wisby Vinterbock from the Gotlands Briggeri.
After browsing the whisky area we stumbled upon the Braunstein stand (from Køge, Denmark) and the Aston Vila supporting Dane working there. Large glasses of Næsgaarden Æble cider (4.5%) was an obvious choice.

Fondberg stocked
the bottle of Warsteiner, a
German beer.

Tomp stocked the bottle of
Bombardier Burning Gold. Gorgeous stuff.
Brewery International provided the draught San Miguel.

Berntson (check out the web site!) stock this Innis and Gunn beer
from Scotland.

Maybe there were more beers - it gets a bit hazy. I remember a long conversation with some stand runner who was unhappy with the high taxes in Sweden. I thought it funny a non-resident lecturing someone on the social benefits of the Swedish taxation system.

But 11pm came round too soon and we retreated off into the night and a nearby pavement to wait for our taxi.

Overall, I enjoyed the evening. The layout was different to what I'm used to in England (lots of stands run by the different companies rather then racks of barrels of beer from different breweries all together, poured out for you by volunteers) although the Portsmouth Beerex does have one stall in the main hall these days.

The food was good although I went for the wild boar before spotting the elk vendor nearby.

I think I complained about the music too much - a lone acoustic guitarist playing UK/US covers.

If I'd known there wasn't a program, I would have printed off the beer list from the website (although I only noticed the list AFTER the event) - hindsight, eh? But then if I had had a list, I might have tracked down the Ridgeway Brewing Company and tried their Bad Elf brews - I don't think that would have been good for my 'elf (Bad Elf - 6,0%, Very Bad Elf - 7,5%, Seriously Bad Elf - 9,0%, Criminally Bad Elf - 10,5%, Insanely Bad Elf - 11,2%).

And the quality of photos would have been better if I'd brought my normal camera. As mentioned earlier, I'd rushed back to the hotel to dump my stuff and also to pick up the camera. I couldn't find it anywhere. On my return from the beer festival, I noticed the camera had been in the rucksack I'd taken with me to work and dumped back at the hotel...

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