Jetty Beers #6-7
Swedish culture primer, part 4: Sweden is a very secular society, but there is one god we worship above all others. It is the great yellow fungus god of the woods:
If you think I’m joking, think again. Swedes treat this fungal godling (kantarell in Swedish, girolle in English, because English people think all wild mushrooms are deadly poisonous and thus think it more appropriate to use their French names) with the utmost of reverence and may spend days upon days wandering the forests in search for the god. Places where god hides are guarded jealously and locations passed between the generations in hushed tones and bound by holy oaths. And, as with all religions, any suggestions that maybe your god isn’t all that and aren’t morels tastier anyway, are greeted first with disbelief, then scorn, then active persecution.
As Swedes are still more than a little pagan (we still dance around a giant penis at the summer solstice, for crying out loud), the traditional way to show respect for the god is to consume the god, thereby also consuming its magical powers of tastiness and hiding in plain sight. But since we are also Lutheran, our preferred mode of consuming them is, simply, plain. You just fry them and eat them. Possibly you have them on bread, though that is a practice akin to anabaptism. One may add diced onion to the fry-up, but that is considered somewhat extravagant and is a practice associated with the Stockholm upper classes. No, those of the true faith just cook the godlings like so:
And what, do you ask, do you drink with such a pagan feast? I’m glad you asked. For accompaniment to this traditional Swedish treats we look to the US and have ourselves a Decadent Imperial IPA (ABV 10.0) by Ska Brewing, a fruity (canned fruit/tropicals/citrus) treat with heavy sweet malts and a dry resin aftertaste which hides the big ABV very well. The bottle I had was about 6 months old so I would wager the hop profile was much more pronounced when fresh – though now it has instead taken on a barley-wine character that is also very pleasant.
Or, you could go for this year’s vintage of North Coast Brewing‘s Belgian-influenced Old Stock Ale (ABV 11.9 – high-ABV-beers turned out to be the evening’s theme). If the booze is hidden in the Decadent, it’s rather flaunted here, and the beer is all the better for it. It’s big, sweet and warming and the high ABV gives it a liqueur kind of flavour: burnt sugar, plums, fruit chutney, dried fruit, dates – had it also been spicy it would have been a perfect Christmas beer. It’s tasty but very heavy – a single bottle is perfect for sharing between two or even three people.
I have a couple of ideas for future blog posts, but if there are any particular Swedish customs and/or phenomena you would like explained, please do let me know! What would you like to know about Swedish culture, dear reader?