Some were adamant that the sole purpose should remain the promotion and defence of cask conditioned beer (and cider), and that the rapid growth of (imprecise term) craft beer should not form part of its remit. Others have been much more willing to embrace craft, recognising that the flavours, quality of ingredients and low levels of carbonation are often light years from the days when keg threatened to sweep away cask beer. (At its lowest ebb, there was only one pub that served Real Ale in the Glasgow area and that wasn’t even in the city).
This embracing of the ‘enemy’ is a classic case of Stockholm Syndrome, which is a clumsy way of introducing a short stop in the Swedish capital. But it also a recognition of a growing belief elsewhere in the world – in parts of USA and Scandinavia at least – that cask beer is increasingly seen as the pinnacle of the brewer’s art. It certainly is the pinnacle of the cellarman’s art. And the relatively venerable Oliver Twist in Stockholm has three handpumps dispensing cask as well as twenty two selling craft.
Only one pump was in use on my visit but it served a very decent Four for Four (4.2%) from Ocean Brewery from Gothenburg. More of a bitter than an IPA in my opinion that was served in pint and half pint measures at £8.90 a pint.
I also had a Bedaro (4.5%) from Nynashamn which had a slightly metallic taste similar to that I find in Greene King IPA. The Oliver Twist has developed a relationship with the Magic Rock Brewery from Huddersfield, and staff are making a trip there later this year.
I would have enjoyed a romp through the board but time and circumstances meant there was only time for a visit to one other bar, which the owner, Johannes, said was the smallest in the country. So yes, a Swedish micropub.
Tritonia- in the Gamla Stan (Old Town) had five beers on draught. I had Tangerine Cream from To Øl, a highly regarded Danish Brewery. It was a thick, juicy and quite delicious beer bursting with tangerines. Creams are the new Sours.
You can also buy an old Russian Aeroflot uniform in the Gamla Stan.
My second and final day in the city was spent largely on seeing the Vasa – a magnificently ornate warship that sunk on its maiden voyage and was recovered and restored 400 years later – and watching AIK draw 2-2 with Ostersunds.
An attempt to sneak in an extra trip to Tritonia failed as it doesn’t open on Sundays. But it is connected to Barrels, Burgers, and Beer where the Dugges Tropic Thunder was not quite as fruity or sour as my tastebuds had sought.
On returning home and enjoying a pint in the State, Colin- Glasgow’s resident Scandinavian pub expert- told me I should have gone to the Ardbeg Embassy. Next time.