THERE was a stage in my younger life when the mention of Sweden would not so much conjure images (and sounds) of ABBA, but rather reliable, blond-haired centre-halves and similarly coiffured midfield schemers.
Way back before the Premier League became a United Nations-style melting pot, the most exotic it got was when clubs reversed the Viking raids of centuries ago and purloined the best footballing talent from Scandinavia.
Latterly, Sweden brings images of infuriating flat-packed furniture and delicious meatballs – all under the same roof.
Unlike the country it shares a famous bridge with – Denmark – Sweden doesn’t have a huge mass-market share when it comes to beer, but it is home to some innovative (slightly out there, in the case of Omnipollo) beer makers.
Among them is Brewski, based in Helsingborg. I managed to get my hand on a couple of cans of their beers, initially attracted by some eye-catching design, but thankful afterwards that I had judged this particular book by its cover.
First up was 200 Units, an 11 per cent barleywine. The name might be a bit of an exaggeration, although this one does pack a considerable punch.
The key with such a high abv beer, though, is to make it drinkable and not allow the considerable alcohol content to overpower things.
This pulls that off nicely. First of all, it pours a dark brown, almost black colour in the glass, with a considerable tan head, giving the impression of looking like a stout.
Where it differs from a stout, though, is the sticky sweetness and fruity flavours. It comes in with a boozy hit alright, and little bit of dark chocolate, but as it settles down you get those sweet tastes of dried fruits like apricot and sultana.
A lot of the sweetness also comes across in toffee and caramel vibes, and even if the strength doesn’t make this one a sipper, the richness of the beer does.
Next up is an actual porter, with the fairly descriptive name of Liquid Porter. That it ticks both those boxes is no revelation, but it is one of the better porters I’ve come across lately.
Porters are generally thinner than stouts and although this one is the same, it carries a good depth of flavour. The use of liquorice roots helps in that regard.
It clocks in at 5.5 per cent, pouring a jet black colour with an off-white head. There are malt flavours, brown bread with sweet toffee and molasses flavours, and a little bite of liquorice.