Ale brewing has a long history in Sweden, predating written records. It is known, through old writings such as Hávamál and others, that the Norse culture used brewing to produce ale and mead. Mead was preferred and ale was the most common. Scandinavians also had access to wine and beer. Modern reproductions of Norse brews have been known to produce ale as strong as 9 percent ABV.
Up until the 19th century brewing was mostly a matter of production for household needs. The beer was usually weak in alcoholic content and used as an everyday beverage. For celebrations and feasts, stronger “feast-beer” and potent mead was brewed. With the advent of industrialism, all this changed. As the cities grew, home brewing became impossible for most people, and so the Swedish brewing industry arose.
In the mid-19th century, a multitude of small breweries grew into existence in all the larger cities of Sweden, and every town had to have at least one brewery, if nothing else for sating the local patriotism. In the beginning of the 20th century, a trend of consolidation with mergers and buyouts began, which culminated in the late 1970s and the beginning of 1980. This led to the formation of three large brewery conglomerates; Pripps, Spendrups and Falcon, and pushed the smaller breweries to the very verge of extinction. This led to a strong stereotyping of the Swedish beers available as easily drinkable lagers, more often than not lacking in taste and character.
In the late 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s, largely through consumer awareness, a new generation of small breweries spearheaded by the likes of Stockholm’s Nils Oscar Brewery began to grow alongside the large companies.
These companies offer customers more in the way choice and many of the beers now produced in Sweden are of the very highest international quality, produced with carefully cultivated brewing yeasts (often imported from Germany, Belgium or Britain).
In 2011 Fredrik Tunedal open the first craft brewery in Stockholm ‘Pang Pang’