I visited some of my gracious extended family in Stockholm last weekend. I wasn’t sure what to expect of Sweden since you don’t hear too much about it in regards to tourism. I was thoroughly impressed with Stockhom. It’s an amazingly beautiful city featuring picturesque architecture amongst the small islands that makeup the centre. It’s exceptionally clean and I didn’t see any homeless people, which I found shocking coming from the hobotowns of Vancouver and, to a lesser extent, London. And just as you may have heard, Swedish people are generally blond, tall, tanned, and athletic looking. If that’s your sort of thing, you might consider them really, really good looking. To top it all off, Sweden has its fair share of quality craft brewers. If not for the seven months a year of cold and darkness, it just might be the perfect place. It’s a bit expensive too, but then you get what you pay for.
Look how pretty Stockholm is
In Sweden, the liquor industry is intensely government regulated (even Absolut was owned by the Swedish government until recently), even more so than in Canada. Only beer less than 3.5% ABV can be sold in grocery stores, all other liquor is sold in government stores called Systembolaget. I went into one to check it out. There are no shelves of wine and beer for people to grab and take to the checkout. There are only showcases to let you know what they have. Once you’ve made up your mind you order from a counter where the clerk goes into the back and assembles your order for you. I’m guessing they don’t get many shoplifters. Unlike in Canada where cold beer and wine stores exist to sell you alcohol at inflated prices after the government liquor stores close, Swedes just can’t buy liquor on Sundays. This is not cool, but at least the stores have a good selection of Swedish and international beer for sale.
The counter at Systembolaget
Behind the counter at Systembolaget
The beer showcase at Systembolaget
We ended up eating dinner at a cool restaurant that had an extensive craft beer list featuring mostly Swedish beers. The restaurant was called Bakfickan and the food and beer were delightful. I don’t remember what the beer we had was called, but it was tasty. I had a really hard time with the Swedish language, reading it, pronouncing it, and remembering any instructions whatsoever. We North Americans absolutely butcher Swedish, which I feel bad about because most Swedes speak excellent English with very little accent (the Ikea commercials back home are a giant lie). If you were wondering, the food in Stockholm is like what they sell at Ikea, except that it is of much higher quality. I had meatballs with lingon berry sauce at Bafickan. We also ate a lot of cold water fish and shrimp in Sweden, often with a dill mayo type sauce. We found the food in Stockholm to be delicious in general.
Craft beer at Bakfickan
Our last stop in Stockholm was to Akkurat, a very highly rated beer bar. They had an impressive array of beer available on cask, on tap, and in bottles, including many Swedish beers and top quality stuff from around the world. We went Swedish, but again I have no idea what it was. It was good though. This place is a must stop for any beer lover passing through Stockholm.
The bar at Akkurat
Stockholm is rad; you should visit it.