"Buying a round of beer can be..." Sweden Tourist Trap Tip by jonno99

Sweden Tourist Traps: 16 reviews and 10 photos


Buying a round of beer can be very dangerous for your bank balance but I hear things are improving. You may hear of the 'before' party and the 'after' party in Sweden. Basically means get some booze down yer neck before you go out, drink a few beers at the expensive nightclub and then go on to some private party to really get stuck in. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- ------

Also watch out for 'Systembolaget' (literally ?system company?) is the name of the state monopoly responsible for retailing alcohol. It?s shops - marked with distictive green and yellow signs - are the only outlets allowed to sell spirits, wine and full-strength beer (Class III). Supermarkets and other shops can sell no alcoholic beverage stronger than Class II beer.

Systembolaget shops were a shock to me. You collect a little raffle ticket on entry and wait for your number to be called out. It?s like being transported back to the GDR or Soviet Union circa 1985. There are no shelves with enticing displays of the goods on sale. The interior is bare, except for a display cabinets, where a single example of each item on sale is safely held behind protective glass. At the back of the shop is a counter, where the customer tells the assistent what is required, which is then retrieved from a hidden storeroom. Not very welcoming and quite an obstacle for a foreigner wanting to browse through what is available. This austere image has been softened in some outlets, which have daringly adopted the self-service system. They are still, however, the exception. Of the 390 shops, only 30 are fully self-service, but with a further 60 self-service for beer. The intention is to create 10 more supermarket style shops, but no more. The argument is that it encourages people to buy more, so it is intrinsically bad.---------------------------------------------------------------------------- -------------

The opening hours are the second hurdle the consumer has to negotiate. These seem to be designed to make it as difficult as possible to buy alcohol at the times when you might want to consume it. They open 10:00 - 18:00 Monday to Wednesday and 10:00 - 18:30 or 19:00 Thursday and Friday. On Saturday and Sunday it is impossible to buy alcohoal to take away, unless you?re in Southern Sweden and take a ferry to Denmark. Very convenient if you?re visiting the country for the weekend. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- --

Being a retail monopoly, the Sytembolaget decides what beers you can buy. If they choose not to sell a certain beer, tough, you won?t be able to get it. They insist on a minimum volume of sales which can rule out minority tastes. Having said this, their selection isn?t that bad. The 300 or so beers they stock includes a good few of the Belgian classics and some decent ales, but nowhere can sell anything else. Specialist beer shops are, by definition, unknown. When you consider that a good Dutch or Belgian beer retailer will have 500+ different brands on their shelves, you will appreciate what a restriction this is. It makes the level of knowledge of beer which some Swedes have even more impressive. ---------------------------------------------------------------------

For more info check out this site - looks nothing like the systembolagets I used.


Review Helpfulness: 2.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Sep 8, 2002
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