Interview with Stene Isaksson of the Akkurat pub in Stockholm

Akkurat in Stockholm is, in my opinion, one of the best pub in the world. Tell us please the history about it.

Akkurat was in the beginning the spin-off from Oliver Twist. Me and my boss back then thought the ”OT” was a little bit too small to do what we wanted. Akkurat opened in 1995 and in 2001 me and my 2 colleagues took over. Our aim is always to be the best in the world, if we succeed?…..That is up to you to decide.

How many beers do you stock? All beer-styles are covered?
On the latest count. 800 bottles. We keep them fresh by dividing them into 2 categories, the normal meny and the vintage meny. Approximately around 400 vintage and 200 ”fresh”. We have also got around 30 on draught. Some to pay the bills and some out of pure love! I think we got most classic beer styles covered. The Cask ales from GB, a lot of Belgian micros on draught and American micros on bottle. 2 years ago we also started working with the fantastic beers of Franconia. What we could get better at is all the new small breweries in Denmark and Italy.

I know you are a great lover of lambic, gueuze, kriek and sour beers in general. Have you been a pioneer in your country? How was the first reaction of Swedish drinkers?
I guess I am a pioneer. This is a beer you have to teach people to drink. That is one of the reasons why we always have one on draught. You have to let people taste. And also let them think it’s a horrible drink without getting offended…. Just let them know that once you’re hooked, there is no turning back.

Tell us about your long and exciting collaboration with my dearest Cantillon family?
I think I was there the first time in ’97 and fell in love. I wanted to extend the relationship and that’s how the idea with the cloudberrylambic ”soleil de Minuit” came up. A mix between the better of two worlds. Since then a lot of people have copied the idea so when we decided to make new beers for our tenth anniversary we came up with the Botrytis. We wanted to use the tradition of using grapes but as usual go NUTS and make a really strong one with sweet grapes. I don’t think I would ever like to move from Sweden but the thought of spending the rest of my life at Cantillon is actually quite pleasant. I have also become a very good friend of Jean.

What is good and what is bad nowadays in the lively Swedish beer scene?
The good news is that we are getting more micros (Still not in the league of Italy though) and they are making some great stuff. The interest of tasting good beer is still increasing. But in Sweden it is very expensive and complicated to have your own business. Especially if it involves alcohol. And now the are also raising the beer excise.When we buy beer from Germany, we pay more in tax than for the beer itself!

Why an Italian beer lover have not to miss Stockholm Beer & Whisky Festival?
I think it’s a very good festival though it’s very commercial. You can absolutely find the best of Swedish local breweries as well as great imported stuff. It’s also a great opportunity to meet people in the business from all over. And Stockholm has also become a great place for pub hoping, with the exception of the prices..

I enjoyed it a lot on 2002, I found great beers and astonishing homebrewed products. As in Italy, I think homebrewing is very important in Sweden, am I right?
Most of the new brewers are actually home brewers from the beginning going commercial, so yes it is very important for the future beer scene. Also home brewers can be very particular about styles; witch is both good and bad.

Everybody knows about your friendship with Jörgen of Oliver Twist pub. Who had the great idea about “ Sour and Bitter” festival? Did people appreceate it?
Me and Jörgen worked together at the OT before Akkurat. He is my soulmate!! When the OT & Akkurat was sold to each one of us we wanted to show people that we still were good friends and had a good relationship. I had been doing the lambicfestival for a few years and we came up with the idea of Jörgen doing extreamly hoppy American beers at the same time. I don’t think the Swedes thought very much of it. Theese days they don’t seem too impressed by a draught St. Lamvinus from Cantillon or a handpulled 4 year old Girardin lambic from 3 Fonteinen in mint condition!! But the feed back we got from people abroad was incredible. Unfortunately they can’t all make it to Stockholm. Also with lambics being to most sensitive beer style I have ever worked with. The collecting of all the beers in Belgium was a nightmare.

Tell us about your next challenges and future perspectives..
We are planning to renovate the Akkurat. Hopefully with in a year. It has been running as a restaurant for more than 20 years now with really no maintenance. Besides that, keep up what we are doing; Try to serve the freshest beers possible. For crazy ideas? I always have those but I like to keep them a secret

 

Lorenzo Dabove, aka Kuaska, chats up the big names in beer

Hornsgatan 18, Stockholm
08-644 00 15
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