After a very busy 2016, 2017 didn’t start off any slower. Our first beer was brewed on the 3rd of January. It’s a new Pale Ale, and Spoiler Alert, the name and pictures will be released next week 🙂
For this week I decided to go into the brewery to chat to Richard Bull. One of the original founders of Beerbliotek, one of the head brewers and Sales & Export Manager, to ask him about our plans for 2017.
We discussed exports, new beers, Low ABV beers (Folköl) as well as our plan for Systembolaget. 2017 seems to be all about getting more of our beers into the hands of more people.
Richard Bull. Co-founder, Head-Brewer and Export/Sales Manager at Beerbliotek.
How did you get into Craft Beer? What was the difference between New Zealand when you lived there, and Sweden/Europe once you moved here?
Richard Bull (RB). I wasn’t very involved in craft beer in New Zealand although I have since been back and been really impressed with some of the breweries that have started since I left.
Darryl de Necker (DD). But you first moved to Scotland after New Zealand?
RB. Yes I did. When I lived in Scotland I started to get a little taste for craft beer but it wasn’t until I moved to Sweden and started working with coffee that I really started developing a real interest in craft beer.
Richard as a home brewer. Date circa mid-2011.
DD. And it was first in Sweden you started home brewing?
RB. Yes, Adam and I started to explore beer more and travelling to different breweries and festivals and then about 8 years ago we decided to try our hand at home brewing with the intention of opening our own brewery. Its been a great journey so far.
The arrival of our Sockerbruket Brewery at the end of 2012.
What is your role at Beerbliotek?
Richard Bull (RB). I have lots of different roles at Beerbliotek which is interesting as every day is different, although maybe not the most efficient way of working.
Darryl de Necker (DD). Things have changed since we started though right?
RB. When we started we were only four people doing everything so I learnt quickly about doing the paperwork and legal side of operating a brewery and also had quite a big hand in developing our brewing software with a friend of ours.
DD. What’s your main focus area right now?
RB. These days my focus is on brewing beer, and export sales, with quite a large dose of paperwork. Recently I took over responsibility for our Systembolaget strategy and it is there I am putting most of my time at the moment.
DD. And brewing beer?
RB. I do get to brew beer occasionally but I do less of the cleaning now days though 😉
(1) Richard helping Anders take delivery of some cans. (2) Our two head-brewers Adam Norman & Richard Bull. (3) Richard trying his hand at labelling some beers.
What is the best thing happening in the craft beer industry in Sweden right now?
Richard Bull (RB). I personally love Sour Beers and I think the interest for those styles is growing all the time. We have had a lot of positive comments from people who maybe don’t consider themselves ‘beer people’ who have tried our Berliner Weisse series and really enjoyed them.
Our first six Berliners.
Darryl de Necker (DD). So it’s not just about IPA’s anymore?
RB. It’s fun to see people finding beers that suit their tastes and realising beer is not just IPA, Pale Ale or Lager or you don’t have to be into 10% stouts. The amount of decent low ABV beers on the market is really interesting as well. It is cool to see so many breweries brewing good quality low ABV beers.
(1) Hip Hops IPA and Bobek Citra Pale Ale, part of our core range, also available at Systembolaget. (2) Five Low ABV beers (Folköl) available at selected Supermarkets and directly from the brewery Tap Room.
How was our 2016?
Richard Bull (RB). 2016 was a tough year in a lot of respects. We have grown so much and so fast that it has been difficult to balance our private life and work but it has also been a really exciting and rewarding year for the brewery.
Darryl de Necker (DD). And what about the festivals?
RB. We went to lots of great festivals like CBC and Brewskival and All In Fest. I think we are really lucky to have three great festivals so close to us and to get invited to be apart of them is something we could only dream about 4 years ago.
Richard and Sally, our sales rep, discussing sales figures and exports, during a client event at our Sockerbruket Sour Brewery.
DD. And we always do a lot of collaborations?
RB. Yes, we have also had the chance to brew with some pretty cool breweries and meet some great brewers and supporters, like Cervisiam from Norway, the four breweries O|O Brewing, Benchwarmers, Stockholm Brewing Co & All In Brewing, our two collabs in Russia and Pustervik in Gothenburg, if I remembered all of them.
Richard working at festivals and tastings.
How many beers have we brewed so far?
Richard Bull (RB). Well you know those figures better than me.
Darryl de Necker (DD). Haha… ok it’s 182. But why so many?
RB. Our concept is still to brew new and exciting beers. That will not change. What has changed however is that our market has grown, especially taking into account Systembolaget & Exports, which means we need to brew most beers twice or even three times to reach that market. The big positive in this is that more people will be able to get hold of most of our beers, which has been difficult in the past.
A selection of our cans.
Why have we not put every beer we’ve made into Systembolaget?
Richard Bull (RB). Since we started we have had such a big focus on brewing new beers all the time that it has not been easy to deliver so many to Systembolaget and with such a long lead time for new beers we decided to focus on bars and restaurants and export.
Our original labels from the start of Beerbliotek.
Darryl de Necker (DD). Which brings us back to our previous point?
RB. Indeed. Now that we brew larger quantities we plan on changing this a little so we can get more of our beers into the hands of especially our local supporters.
(1) Original labels. (2) Pop Corn Hop Porn IPA, released at Systembolaget on the 1st of February 2017. (3/4) Packaging cans at our Kungssten Brewery.
We have new plans for Systembolaget for 2017. What can the consumers in Sweden look forward to?
Richard Bull (RB). We have not confirmed exactly how many new beers we will release at Systembolaget in 2017 but one thing that we have taken notice of is how much our local supporters are asking for our new beers to be released at Systembolaget.
Beers in the fermentation tanks.
Darryl de Necker (DD). So it’s more focussed on our local market?
RB. We have a plan that will see more beers coming and going at Systembolaget so we can make more of our beers available to our local market as we think it is about time we start giving something back to our local supporters who have helped us become the brewery we have over the last 4 years.
Beers in the fermentation tanks.
How many at any given time? What will our range look like?
Richard Bull (RB). We will be dropping the number of beers we have in Systembolaget at one time to about 5-6 beers.
Darryl de Necker (DD). But we’ll always have a core range?
RB. Yes, our core beers, Hip Hops IPA, Bobek Citra will be available all the time as well as seasonal beers like Eternal Darkness, Mocha Latte Stout and A Passion for Gingers.
DD. Which ones will be removed?
RB. Single Hop Mosaic will be taking a break but may be back later in the year and there will also be a constant stream of new beers coming and going and a lot more of our collabs will be hitting the shelves.
Bobek Citra (Pale Ale) and Hip Hops (IPA) are both in our core range, as well as available to order at Systembolaget.
DD. Which beers will be first to hit the shelves in 2017?
RB. In February we release two new beers Pop Corn Hop Porn IPA and Sabotage Black IPA which is a collab with O/O brewing followed by two more in March Lovechild- a collab with Beavertown and Brekeriet and our version of GBG Beer Week 2017. You can expect some exciting beers in May as well so there is lots to look forward to.
DD. So we’re aiming for more beers at Systembolaget, but not everything?
RB. We brewed the first new beer of the year on the 3rd of January, but you won’t see that at Systembolaget until December, because there will be so many other beers to look forward to before that.
(1) All three beers are heading to Systembolaget. Pop Corn Hop Porn (IPA) and Sabotage (Black IPA) on the 1st of February, and Lovechild (Sour) on the 1st of March 2017. (2) Mocha Latte Stout is available in select stores as well as for order at Systembolaget.
Lokalsortiment or local assortment. What does that mean? How many stores?
Richard Bull (RB). Currently our beers start in between 6 and 8 stores here in Gothenburg.
Darryl de Necker (DD). But they can be ordered to more stores?
RB. Yes they can. We see that most of the beers we release gain new stores throughout the country based on people ordering them so the more people order, the more stores the beers will be available in.
DD. How easy is it to order the beers?
RB. Well either go to your local store and speak to the staff, or do it online via Systembolaget’s website. If people want the beers in their local store it is just to order them and hopefully they will start taking them in on a permanent basis, so they appear on the shelves.
All Three beers are available on the shelves at selected Systembolaget stores, and for order to your closest store in Sweden.
We export quite a bit of beer, which new markets are we aiming at?
Richard Bull (RB). In 2016 we added four or five new countries to our export list including England, Scotland and Finland where we have seen a big jump in demand.
Darryl de Necker (DD). And for 2017?
RB. 2017 will hopefully see another 2 or 3 countries. We are currently in discussions with a company in Germany and we have already started with New Zealand so hopefully they develop in 2017.
DD. So it’s getting the balance right between our local market and export?
RB. Yes, the important thing for us at the moment is to make sure that our supporters here in Sweden and our current export markets get the chance to get hold of our beers. We have to ensure we can supply the companies and people who have supported us. However, if anyone wants our beer in their country then get in touch and we will see what we can do.
Tasting a beer directly from the tank on packaging day.
We’ve just opened our tap room? How’s that going? What’s the plans for it?
Richard Bull (RB). Our taproom got off to a really good start late in the year and we hope to do some pretty exciting events in 2017. We also have our members club which we are planning some special events for them.
Darryl de Necker (DD). How often will we open?
RB. We will be open every second weekend and if groups want to book private events outside of those times then that is also possible. We run quite a few company events and we plan on making our space available for others so if people have company events or private events they want to hold at the brewery then it’s just to get in touch via our Tap Room page.
Some random photos from our Tap Room, which is open every second weekend.
Last but not least, we’ve done a lot of 3,5% beers. Why’s that?
Richard Bull (RB). 3.5% beers is quite an exciting development in the Swedish beer scene recently. With a number of 3,5% bottle stores opening and more and more supermarkets looking to stock good quality locally produced beer.
Darryl de Necker (DD). What are our plans?
RB. We have had two beers Session IPA and Sockerbruket Saison for a long time, and now more and more breweries are brewing 3.5% beers. We recently brewed Whoop Ass a 3,5% collab with All In Brewing which is fun to focus a collaboration on a low ABV beer. It sold really well both in Sweden and abroad so from our point of view it is another way to get our beers directly to the public other than through Systembolaget.
Low ABV beers (Folköl) is always available to purchase from the Tap Room on open weekends.
DD. So we’re aiming to also sell more directly from the brewery?
RB. We sell to around 15-20 supermarkets at the moment and we hope to have more throughout the year but it is also really nice for people to come to the brewery, talk to the brewers and take some beer home with them from the brewery. Our latest 4 pack is for sale for 90kr when our tap room is open.
A 4-pack of Low ABV beers (Folköl) for 90kr, available on open weekends directly from the Tap Room.
Final question. What are you looking forward to in 2017?
Richard Bull (RB). 2017 is going to be another big year for us. We hope to return to some great festivals and we have a few collaborations abroad planned in. There is lots of plans I’m not allowed to talk about yet but all in good time 🙂
Darryl de Necker (DD). And what about Gothenburg?
RB. Gothenburg has been at the forefront of the Swedish beer scene for a few years now and we are really happy to be apart of it and contribute to it so I’m looking forward to seeing more great things come out of our brewery and all the other talented breweries in this town. Oh and finally getting our sour brewery up and running properly.
DD. Well thank you for your time.
RB. My pleasure… please add a smiley face 🙂
Alot of new beers will be brewed this year, as well as released at Systembolaget during 2017. More news on that soon.
Our Tap Room is opening again next weekend, see the Tap Room page for all the info. The beer list will also be posted this week. We will also have more info going our about the release of our latest beer “Some men just wants to see the world burn”, which we’re releasing on the 20th of January.
That is it from me for this week. Keep well until next time.
Finding our beers in Sweden
Getting hold of our beers Internationally
At the moment we export our beer to 13 countries. Of course Europe is close, but our first shipment has just arrived in New Zealand. Some countries have exclusivity contract, whilst others do not.
If you’d like to distribute our beer in your country, then please get in touch, and we can send you a price list, and discuss samples, etc.
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