Beer Culture

Stories about great beer from the countries that invented it.

Tag: Regent

Czech Beer in Stockholm

There’s a fair amount of beer in the Swedish capital, and much of it seems to be Czech. Step into a bar in the trendy neighborhood of Södermalm and you’ll probably see Krušovice and Pilsner Urquell as often as anything else. Czech lagers seem to be frequently sold as premium imports here, an in the case of Starobrno’s position at the top of the list at Pet Sounds Bar, a chic offshoot of a legendary local record shop. A few other Czech brands — including Primátor — show up at the many outlets of Systembolaget, the Swedish government’s alcohol monopoly.

And then there’s Stockholm’s Švejk pub.

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One Solution to the Hop Shortage: Hemp Beer


The global hop shortage has grabbed a lot of attention in the past few months, with no likelihood of the situation getting better anytime soon. At least one craft brewer with enough stock has offered to share his stash. Others are suggesting alternative beers made with spices, peppers or thistles. But the most natural solution might just be hemp beer, known as Hanfbier in German.

While hemp blossoms are unlikely to replace legendary hops like Hallertau, Spalt and Goldings in desirability, there are several similarities between the plants. Both are members of the cannabaceae family, as is marijuana. Many times I’ve noted grassy, pot-like scents while tasting beers with great aroma hops, and once in a hop yard in Žatec, aka Saaz, I was almost overcome by what I thought was the smell of hydroponic sativa. A couple of years ago I caught the same skunky scent while driving past a hemp farm in Southern Moravia. If hemp smells like marijuana and marijuana smells like hops, as long as there are no hops to be had, why not make hemp beer?

Several brewers in Europe — including at least two in the Czech Republic — already do.

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Two from Norway


One of beer’s most intriguing features is its sense of place, the idea that you can taste something from a certain region, even a highly specific location, and that each particular combination of sweet, sour, bitter, salty and umami — as well as untold millions of individual flavors — only exists for a particular brew from a particular place. At least in Czech terms, this is considered to be true for Pilsner, though elsewhere “Pilsner,” “Pilsener” and “Pils” mean vastly different things. In Norway, it could be something like Rogalands Pils, from Egersund, in the south of the country, or Mack Arctic Beer, a lager from Tromsø, way up inside the Arctic Circle.

These two showed up here via Kjetil Haugland and Geir Taule, two Norwegian beer fans who brought some of the local goods with them on their recent trip to Prague. When someone asks “Have you ever seen this beer before?” while offering up a can from the world’s northernmost brewery, you pretty much jump at the chance to make a trade.

So if the true Pilsner is a reflection of a specific place in the Czech Republic, what do Pils beers from Norway taste like?

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