If you are wondering if I have been writing this post while tired, the answer is no; Bottl3.5hop is actually the name of the store I intend to write about. Or perhaps I should say I am writing about a phenomena, which is the rapid increase demand for low alcohol drinks, especially beer. There are small shops popping up in hipster parts of town specializing in small brewery beers that fit under the state controlled limit of 3.5%. These shops slash bars are great places to find interesting local products that are often too small scale to make it to the big players shelves, like peach beer (yuk). I am not kidding about the peach beer, but would like to emphasize that most of the selection is actually not as “special”, but rather something that I would consider excellent low alcohol alternatives to be enjoyed with food during the week or why not weekend.
There are two concepts in Sweden you should know: Lätöl and Folköl. The common denominator is that both are low in alcohol, and both are available to sell in normal convenience stores. The main difference is the alcohol percentage. Lätöl is from 0.5% to 2.24% in alcohol content, and Folköl is from 2.25% up to 3.5%. Going above 3.5% in alcohol is considered strong, and can only be sold in the state monopoly stores. The Bottl3.5hop on Kocksgatan (Södermalm) sells about 60 to a hundred different beers in the category of both Lät- and Folköl, as well as some delicacies.
I had heard all the buzz around the store long before I actually made it there to have a look. I was already conditioned to expect quite a lot. People had hyped about the place in Facebook and Instagram. So when I finally arrived with my camera, the shelves of beer looked smaller than I had imagined. It was basically one short wall filled with bottles and otherwise the store looked quite empty. Perhaps it was that there were only a few bottles of each beer on display (and more in the back), or I was already used to the huge selection at our local supermarket ICA Liljehomen (which is the best food store in town btw), however I just expected a beer shop to have more beer. Regardless of my first impression, we found a lot of bottles to take home, and prices were the same as in the supermarket. Mikkeller, Högnäs bryggeri and Dugges are some of the brands that you can find in the shop, and there are several really small players as well. You could also drink some beer in the shop, which I think is a nice addition to the concept. There were two to three products on tap and they changed daily.
I love the concept of small boutiques specializing on food and drinks. While living in London we used to get everything from small stores, like meats and cheeses. Even gin. So, I am happy to support such a concept. The knowledge level on the products is much higher if you are specialized in something, and chatting with the staff is part of the experience. There are also other stores in the area with a similar concept, like Folkölsbutiken (beer) and Soda Nation (for soft drinks). I have to visit those as well to really grasp the potential of this kind of drinks shopping. What I really enjoy is having a good selection at home to be able to pair with food or lounging on the sofa ad hoc. So thumbs up for Bottl3.5hop! I am hoping that others find it as well to give small boutiques a chance to survive in todays harsh competition.