Ah, Stockholm. The lovely, colorful Nordic city surrounded by water and prime healthcare. If, like me, you happen to make the questionable choice of visiting Scandinavia in the winter, you’ll be faced with the fact that daylight ends at 3:00PM. I’m told that Stockholm has some beautiful parks, and the next time I visit in the summer I’ll have to check them out. This winter, I spent Stockholm evenings the way many Swedes do: indoors, drinking beer.
I really did love Stockholm for a number of reasons other than the beer – more of that to come. For now, let’s stay cozied up in Södermalm, Stockholm’s hip southern hub deemed one of the coolest neighborhoods in the world by Vogue. The northernmost part of the island is home to Akkurat, one of the greatest beer halls in Scandinavia. Akkurat boasts a huge selection of local and imported beers, with an impressive collection of lambics and vintages for the true connoisseurs. I don’t know enough about beer to pay for the good stuff, but I can at least appreciate funky and unique ones. Akkurat has relationships with a number of breweries that make beers exclusively for them, including a tiny one man operation underneath a grocery store on an island to the west of Stockholm. This very brewery makes a beetroot IPA called the Red House Ale, only lightly hoppy and full of bizarre, delicious flavor.
One of the best ways to explore bars, in my opinion, is to ask bartenders where to go next. The bartenders at Akkurat assured Doug and I that we were already in the best place, but if we had to try something else, Omnipollos Hatt around the corner was the next best option. Omnipollo is a local brewery, its name meaning something like “all-present chicken” in sort-of Spanish. (The logo is a magician’s hat, so I thought omnipollo meant magician in Swedish. Nope. All-seeing chicken.) The Hatt has a daily rotating list of Omnipollo’s out-of-the-box beers. When we went, most were sours and IPAs with a few stouts thrown in. Our first round was the One Ton Of Blackcurrant sour and the Raspberry Pavlova Smoothie IPA. For the Smoothie, the bartenders freeze the beer’s foam into a slushie machine which they dollop on top of the draft. Both beers were tart and delicious, the raspberry so tasty and unlike anything I’d ever had before that I have literal dreams about it.
The bartenders at Omnipollos Hatt recommended Akkurat (lol), and said another cozy place to try was Katarina Ölcafé. A short walk into Södermalm’s uber-hip Katarina-Sofia neighborhood brings a series of boutiques, restaurants, and this cozy beer bar that serves, ironically, New York Jewish deli-style food. We passed on the Reuben sandwich but did try Katarina’s local lager and sour. Their selection is less extensive as Akkurat and not as experimental as Omnipollo, but for quality Swedish beers served by friendly, engaging bartenders, Katarina was a win.
Our final quest took us, as per the Katarina bartender’s recommendation, to Mbargo wayyy on the west side of the island. Mbargo has a TON of local beers – it might even rival Akkurat if you’re counting purely Swedish varieties. We opted for some Dugges sours (because thanks to this trip, I guess I like sours now??), Doug especially thrilled with his Mango Mango Mango brew. Since we did not want to collapse, we called it a night after Mbargo, and I have to hand it to the Swedes: bar hopping and talking with the bartenders certainly took up most of the dark hours. I must say, though, beers in Stockholm, like all things in Stockholm, are expensive. I thought that coming from New York no price could shock me, ha! Stockholm was having none of that. Set aside some dough for your beer budget ahead of time, and you’ll be good to glug.