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When I was thirteen and I was in seventh grade I made alcohol for the first time. I was already interested in baking and baked more or less complicated recipes to my mother's joy at first but later she found that the freezer was overfilled so there was no room for lamb. Alcohol production this first time was to pour currants in a carboy and add a few sugar cubes every day. Nothing is as fascinating as when it starts to ferment the first time. Reached the actual vinpimplande did not happen in this age but maybe reached in all cases.
During high school was built cars and first ölbryggningen made in the mother's canning pot, hops jacked off with juice strainer. The beer tasted fermented and became very weak so me and my buddy Flower got to buy Löwenbrau beer in the supermarket instead to midsummer. One of my bad hembrygder that I got to eat up over the years. Remember that this was in 1984 when hembryggningsböcker did not grow on trees and the Internet came the ten years later. In contrast, my grandmother a cookbook from the 1800s with recipes and descriptions to cook everything from the bulk of the salt älgtunga to boil vodka. The recipe for beer has never been used but still gave me an idea of how the most important thing hangs together. Maybe soon s time to make a brew according to grandmother's cookbook?
It was the same during my studies in Uppsala. Then I bought Coopers beer kits, downloaded tompavor on the V-Dala nation and warmed them in the oven at my lodgings. Good point, it was at least not. Or, as a friend from those days said when he heard about my brewery plans; "We hope it will be better than what we got to taste in Uppsala."
No, otherwise it was most beer drinking that mattered. Spendrups which was the main supplier to V-Dala nation had probably a little of their glory days in the beginning of the 1990s. So when I would later pursue careers in Stockholm green economist felt extra nervous when I was called for interview at Spendrups headquarters, then at St. Erik Way. I did not work as financial controller, but clenched his fist into his pocket and began to make plans for revenge.
On the same street, but down at the St. Eriksbron, was an ace store. I bought Håkan Lundgren and Svante Ekelins hembryggarbok. At the bookstore at the ABF building, I ordered Malting & Brewing Science Fiction in two volumes from England to the astronomical price 2400kr. These books became my reference books for many years.
Me and Sylvia was also reached in the early 90s, just as the Stockholm Beer started around the same time. Two important things! On the Stockholm Beer could hear the plans forged about a block Brewery on Kungsholmen, and Sylvia and I made holiday trips to England, Ireland, Scotland, Norway, Holland and Austria where we somehow suddenly had visited one or another brewery.
In Stockholm, it was difficult to start a brewery without money and Sylvia did not want to move there either. 1994 we bought a cabin in the woods in my home village where we moved. At home, you can do very little. A cousin did construction drawings and quantity calculations on the timber. Thanks Helena! Dad went to the forest and cut timber in the correct lengths, loading machine was borrowed by Bengt Ekström, Sylvia's uncle dug drainage ditches and I made computer program at nights to get the money together, worked at the hardware store on the day and tiled walls on weekends and evenings. During the summer of 1997, I had a carpenter employee named Per-Erik Lundin. He was very clever, work flowed in good speed. Unfortunately, I had not any money left when autumn came, Per-Erik sought out another job. There I stood quite alone. Not many thought well like that very much on the project besides my wife and surely some. Among other things, I had a very understanding employer Bengt Josefsson. Without him there would never become something brewing. Hope that I had time to do some good for his business during my brewing dreams. I continued with welding, Sylvia painted windows and in between we went on a buying trip to England and became pålurade various brewery scrap.
When you have no money, you get either a brewery of a shoelace (as they say in the US) or you may spend lots of their own work. It became well-something in between. The initial capital was well about 100,000 crowns, the rest I worked together until 2002 when my brother tripped me out of the family farm. For the money, I bought five non-insulated storage tanks and an old pin machine and label machine from Norway. Hotrodden I built in the eighties I sold it and bought a rinser for money. I even sold one of my accordion. As late as 2008, it was just that the money was enough to salary payments to employees.
The reason I so early la so much of the capital on a peg rope with a capacity of 6,000 bottles per hour based on our so far only made market research. It was when I ate lunch one day at the traditional crusher in Hedemora, where I asked the chef Leo if one were to bet on FAT or bottled beer. Leo said; "Guy huh, you must begin with bottles, barrels are too big, bottles are easier in the beginning." It was my first conversation with a potential client and then I can promise you, when you listen to.
The fact is that when you know nothing so it is important to listen to the right people. Leo was such a person. But it had neither he nor I know nothing about.
A person who however had more track is Stene on Akkurat. Akkurat was, moreover, our first draft beers customer. At one of our early deliveries to Akkurat Stene invited to lunch. Thanks Stene. I took the opportunity and put ten thousand dollar question to this ölinstitution; should I go for ale or stock? The brewing ale you the guy said Stene. Said and done. Today we brew probably best ale in Sweden, I would think. And do not we see any slowdown in sight either. Craft beer in Sweden, not larger market than perhaps three percent. In the US, they reside in ten percent! In Oregon, there are places where craft beer is half beer sales.
So it took seven years from the time we started digging a pit in the hill until the first brew is added. And before that was the take-off distance maybe five to ten years, depending on how you count. Then you have to have good patience and be even more stubborn. I remember one day when I during the accumulation period (perhaps in 2000) stood with mud up at boot shafts and everything went well not that there rarätt as we say here in the woods. A neighbor came by and asked if this thing with hantverksöl was just a passing trend. "You do know Bjorn first, people were interested in wine, late cigars and whiskey, and now maybe beer." I was certainly annoyed but in retrospect you could say he probably had the same rights as Ines Uusmann had about the Internet in the 1990s.
How do you do when you then go off to market. Until 2003, I had not drunk anything more advanced than the Caledonian ales that were on Systembolaget at the time. It was actually a long time since we saw these beers in Sweden. I kept them anyway for more than Bishops Finger, and other British ales which could be bought at Systembolaget. Initially, the idea was that we would have a light, a copper-colored and a darker beer. Very refined. I usually say that first beer we brewed the Golden Ale. It is not true. I made that first brew a beer called Smithy Ale. The malt which we bought from Fawcett in England were crushed on New Years Eve 2003. It is thus exactly 10 years ago today (New Years Eve 2013). Tenth anniversary of words right now. Unfortunately, we have not had time to pay attention to this reached further during the year. So it may be this little chronicle manifesting this milestone. Since I brewed on New Year's Day 2004. The happiness was great when I February 2 saw a strong yeast quilt on the open fermenter before I went to the hardware store to inventory. But once the beer had been stored for some time and also filtered so I thought it was so bitter that it was impossible to drink. The only people who got to drink this brew premiere besides myself, Tomas Husing and Co from the Söderbärke Maltese who were our first visitors in the brewery. I remember that Thomas with wife said; "This guy's not so very bitter either". Thomas had probably right because we talked about this a while ago and we were probably agree that most of our beers we have in our catalog today's visitors. Oh well. Otherwise, it's probably true that it's Golden Ale is our first beer. I and others probably thought that the first batches Golden Ale tasted a little this and that. The beer was not very stable, we probably had wild fermentation in the first few batches before the brewery was really clean and before I knew how to conjure arrange a pin machine so went there enough out quite a few bottles that were tokoxiderade. But when you do not really have an eye on what is the cat, rat and the rope so do you change a little here and a little there, and some of the recipes also by all means. The result is that you have no idea what caused what.
I also brewed Winter Ale first year in 2004. That year we did not get it at Systembolaget. I was heartbroken and rang up buyer who simply said that this beer does not measure properly. Although Winter Ale has undergone some changes over the years. The first year we used throughout British hops and malt. A hop that we completely gone from being Fuggles. It was replaced with Cascade in both Golden Ale and Winter Ale. In Winter Ale is currently only American hops.
A dream that was achieved in 2004 was to participate at the Stockholm Beer Festival. I put together my booth and stood more or less self and served Golden Ale and Winter Ale in bottles. Most visitors walked past our booth first year. Passing maybe they did not. They went to Jämtland who had his big green booth opposite. There was also öldomarna and shared the prize nominations in bundles of ten and ten, it felt like. Ready Dreamed of the time.
The year after we had taken lessons. More beers and beers on tap. We had, among other things, developed a lager - Bergsmansöl. High bitterness and just Saazhumle. A little diacetyl was it perhaps. It is found in all cases öldomaren Ake Rotzius who said: "the guy that's does not feel really good this". Despite Åkes sawing so generated Bergsmansgard beer a silver medal after Jämtland Hell. It was a great moment after having been doing this project for nearly 10 years. Nowadays you think Ake that we have strengthened us and like most of our beers. Thanks Ake!
We are more or less totally production focused. Quality improvements and capacity increases. Again and again. Maybe a little boring at times for both us and the customers. But it has also provided feedback on the beer market so that we more or less constant working in the capacity ceiling. We currently have six ales which are sold year round five of which are in Systembolaget's regular assortment. This means that our days are filled with producing these beers. In addition, we brew Winter ale for Christmas and Easter Ale Easter. For many years we were lucky enough to get summer beer at Systembolaget has given us a lot of attention and we have developed some different ales and lagers one that we call Slåtteröl. Since last summer, Systembolaget has chosen not to buy into summer beer. Nor summer 2014. Boring! But we have been busy anyway. Generally, I find it fun with summer beer. The summer has been as big sales period that Christmas is for Swedish Craft breweries and then it is reasonable that one can sell special beer to summer.
It was with these summer beer that I got insight into this with continuous humling. Hage from Närke Culture Brewery told me that the Yanks are often only humlar wort during the last half hour of the cooking and thus a smoother bitterness and aroma clearer. I think it is part of the origin of one of Närkes many mottoes "All mimics Närke". Unlike Närke so we torrhumlar many of our ales. They have a slogan about torrhumling too. But it gets them talk about themselves.
We have many friends among småbryggerierna in Sweden including gang from Orebro. This has resulted in us for a number of years a brewery association in Sweden named Sweden's independent microbreweries. We started the organization in order to make our voice heard against the parliament and the government, exchange of experience but also because it is very fun to have like-minded colleagues across the country that one can share a few beers with. Unfortunately a little too often. As a small independent brewery, we have an entirely different agenda than the big players in the market. Therefore, it is important that we gathered our common resources in their own organization. In tax, trade issues, the major brewers oligopoly position in the tavern market, Craft vs crafty where the big players challenge us with beer brands which give the appearance of being small and locally but are brewed in central industries. It not only makes the customer fooled into thinking that it is a beer from a small brewery, it also creates difficulties for our microbreweries to compete on price. Not surprising perhaps, it works in all markets. So it is, but we are mobilizing on the way we can. It does not mean I do not even have good friends both within Spendrups and Carlsberg.
How do we think ölscenen will look in the future here in Sweden? I think we will see a greater breadth of beers from microbreweries Swedish, both stronger and weaker with more and less hops, with new and old ingredients terms of both hops and yeast. More and different manufacturing methods will get attention. Beers inspired by Belgium is already on its way more and more. We at Oppigårds also have many ideas about new beers that are queued as soon as we can build catching up and past demand for our existing products. There are great challenges but the situation has never been so good and stimulating as it is now.
Thank you for taking the time to enjoy the little things that we've been through these years in the beer industry. Hope you have a great 2014!