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Craft beer growing in Sweden

Sweden’s craft beer scene is “exploding”, while brewers are finding export just as profitable as their home markets because of the monopoly system.

Speaking to the drinks business, Magnus Dugge Engström, a brewer at Dugges near Gothenburg, the number of craft brewers in Sweden has grown from five to 80 in the last eight years.

He said that previously Sweden had been dominated by the big brewers and that light lager consumption was the norm.

Now, however, there is a “very strong trend” towards US and Belgian style beers, with people increasingly asking for locally produced ales.

With the Swedish monopoly system, breweries and distillers are only allowed to sell directly to on-trade establishments, which comprises the majority of sales.

Engström said it was useful to be in Systembolaget and the monopoly was doing a great deal to drive the expanding craft beer scene but it is a difficult route to market as Systembolaget can not buy all of a brewer’s production and a tasting competition determines which products get to go on the shelves..

The only other place in Sweden they can sell beer is in the supermarket if the beer is 3.5% or under.

Export is therefore increasingly attractive to Swedish brewers. Dugges already exports to the US, Australia, UK, Norway, Denmark and Italy.

“It’s not much, but it’s fun to show the world the product,” said Engström.


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