It happens every year and yet every year it still takes me by surprise. Why do I always have far too much January left at the end of my money?
Christmas was as usual the season of goodwill. Goodwill to Activision, Xbox and Nerf to name just a few. It was also a time for giving to my relatives, who visited in numbers and ravaged my beer cupboard. Again. I’m not bitter of course. They drank all that as well.
So here I sit, under a pile of credit card statements, calculating how many months I can get away with not getting my hair cut before anyone notices and pondering over how many flavours noodles come in.
One way I can cut costs is of course to scale back on my rather expensive Systembolaget habit. But can you really drink great beer on a budget or are you condemned to a canned nightmare of meaningless liquid that looks like it came out of a horse someone has picked up and shaken violently?
To find out I set myself a simple task; to take a crisp 100SEK note into my local Systembolaget store and buy the best ‘budget’ bottles of beer I could lay my hands on.
Here’s what I took home with me:
Red Seal Ale 19.90SEK – pretty much everything you want in a classic US pale ale. A burst of bright hoppy tropical fruit over a satisfying bed of bready malt and caramel. And the colour! Perhaps a little sweeter and not as dry in the finish as the style benchmark Sierra Nevada Pale Ale but hey, it’s 4 SEK cheaper!
La Trappe Witte 15.90SEK – monks probably don’t charge that much per hour but seriously, under 16 SEK for an authentic Trappist wheat beer? Zesty lemons mixed with flower petals, green herbs and spicy bitter oranges.
Fullers London Porter 19.90SEK – so it comes in a can. So what – this is the 5th highest rated porter in the world! Loads of chocolate and roasted nut action with hints of wine drops and burnt toast. Great food pairing beer and ideal to see you through the long cold winter months.
Samuel Adams Boston Lager 16.40SEK – this is what craft beer tastes like supersized! Boston Beer Company, the largest craft brewery in the US (in fact it’s the 5th largest US brewery full-stop) broke the glass ceiling on the definition of what a craft brewery is by getting the upper volume limit raised from 2 to 6 million barrels a year. It may be massive but the brewery’s craft roots are still clearly evident in this solid US lager with mild orange and caramel notes and a moderate hoppy finish. Great all-round fridge beer!
Oppigårds Indian Tribute 19.90SEK – you don’t need to go any further than Hedemora to find a great Swedish craft beer packed with flavour for under 20 pix. A meaty 6.6%ABV IPA generously hopped with citrusy Centennial hops and finished off with Cascade in the maturation tanks.
Brutal Brewing Summer Edition 7.90SEK – BB finally delivered last summer with a lager flavoured with Magnum, Cascade and Galaxy hops that manages to crack the boring industrial lager mould to deliver a beer with a surprisingly zingy citrus edge. To be fair the hop hit is more like a slap but still. And the look – the coolest can design from a Swedish brewery so far in my book!
So there you have it. For a grand total of 99.90SEK I got a world-class porter, a classic US pale ale, a wheat beer brewed by monks, an all-round US lager, a juicy Swedish IPA and a mainstream lager that’s developed a small attitude problem. And all this for far less than the price of a plastic Xmas tree in the January sales. Result I say!
Would you have spent your 100SEK differently? If so what would you have bought and why?