Import beer

As an aspiring connoisseur/wannabe I have tried to find some consolidated information on how to get hold of interesting brews that fall outside of our politically controlled alcohol distribution system (I feel like a North Korean activist when I write that). There are a number o ways, legal and illegal to get great craft beer across the border and here are the four main ones as I have understood it.

The simplest way is to order through the beställningssortimentet at Systembolaget. In order to know what is hidden in there you can either search the database of Systembolaget or take a look at the inventory lists of the importers. This procedure is trivial. As an example, I often order Anchor Liberty Ale this way.

This takes us to the second way which is a sort of “domestic private import”. As it appears, the importers keep a stash of already imported beers inSweden that are available through private import at Systembolaget. To get hold of these you need to brows the lists of the importers as Systembolaget does not keep track of this hidden treassure. Having located a beer that is available for “domestic private import” you then need to make a request for proposal at Systembolaget. This is a little more tricky way to order beer but still rather trivial. I regularly order stuff from Coronado, Ballast Point and Lagunitas in this way.

The third way is to make a proper private import through a Swedish importer. With this method you can (or cannot) get beer from foreign brewers that is not available in beställningssortimentet or as “domestic private import”. For example, I would really like to get hold of a six pack of Anchor’s Big Leaf Maple Red and have submitted a request for proposal through Systemboalget and Anchor’s Swedish distributor Cask but with no result. Naturally, Cask will not have a six pack sent over the Atlantic, but perhaps they will import larger batches if they get requests.

The fourth and trickiest way is to import through a foreign distributor. It is teh same procedure as importing via a Swedish distributor but will cause more work and more trouble at Systembolaget. Have not tried this yet.

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Here is a list of the larger importers/distributors. To keep up with what is available as “domestic private import” and through beställningssortimentet you need to visit their web sites regularly.

Galatea/Craftbeers.se is the Swedish distributor of Alesmith, Anderson Valley, Ballast Point, Coronado, Lagunitas, New Belgium, Port Brewing, Praire Artisan Ales, The Lost Abbey and others.

Cask is the Swedish distributor of  Anchor and Stone among others.

Great Brands is the Swedish distributor of Oskar Blues, Great Divide, Ska Brewing, Smuttynose and others.

Wicked Wine is the Swedish distributor of Founders, Sierra Nevada and others.

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