Jetty Beers #3-4
Swedish culture primer, part 2: what you see below is the national dish of Sweden:
Now, other people might try to tell you that any number of other dishes are, in fact, the national dish of Sweden: boiled crayfish, pea soup with mustard and pancakes, meatballs and mashed potatoes, fermented herring, roast moose etc etc. They are all wrong. This is the de facto national dish of Sweden: it is eaten at every holiday, in summer and in winter, it can be a starter, a side dish, or a main course, it’s ingredients are always available in every store in Sweden, year-round. A couple of different kinds of pickled herring and potatoes, plus some sour cream and chives – it doesn’t get more everyday and versatile than that. Note also the absence of any kind of green vegetable (chives and dill are herbs, not veggies), another thing that is very typical of Swedish cooking. Since every Swede practically is only two or at most three generations removed from being a farmer, there is something deeply rooted in the national psyche, a disdainful voice that tells us that vegetables are animal food, not suitable for consumption by humans (unless they’ve been dried and robbed of all colour, as is the case of Swedish pea soup – it’s not green but a yellow colour reminiscent of sick). Real Swedes eat potatoes and fish, and meat on a Sunday.
But what do you drink with this traditional Swedish meal? Why, beer, of course. You can try an Oppigårds Amarillo (ABV 5.9), from one of Sweden’s most highly regarded craft brewers Oppigårds:
Pours dark amber with a thin head – somewhere between a dark/munchener lager and a dark IPA in colour. Fruity citrus hops are evident in the aroma and blossom on the palate, but quickly disappear and transform into a short, dry aftertaste with hints of citrus peel. In style terms I guess this is closest to an American Pale Ale. It’s not a hop bomb by any stretch of the imagination but still has plenty of bite and character – a good beer for everyday drinking (though hardly a sessioner either at ABV 5.9). Stands up very well to the sharpness of the herring, though gets a bit overwhelmed by the mustard herring (10 o’clock on the plate above).
You could also drink a Raasted Forår (ABV 5.0) from Danish brewers Raasted:
Forår means spring so this is a seasonal I’m sampling a bit late. In colour it is almost exactly the same shade of dark amber as the Oppigårds, except it’s cloudy as it is unfiltered and bottle-conditioned. This is a very traditional Nordic spring/Easter-type ale, meaning it has quite a restrained hop character but still enough bitterness (and malt body) to set it apart from just a regular lager. It starts with some nice fresh yeast, then has hints of tropical fruit and citrus hops, and finally offers a very brief “green” aftertaste. It’s a totally decent beer but tell you the truth it lacks the stronger bitterness needed to cut through the sharpness and fattiness of the herring.
Stay tuned for more inside knowledge of Swedish culture combined with beer reviews!