Sweden’s craft beer industry has grown tenfold over the last decade, as there are now more than 300 small breweries operating in the country, up from 30 just ten years ago. And that number seems to only be growing, as the Scandinavian nation of about 10 million people grows thirstier for homemade beer. In fact, the number of brewery openings in a given year has steadily increased every year since 2010, according to the Brewers of Sweden, the BA-esque group representing the country’s small beer industry that provided this most recent count. As such, the group is confident that, though the country is small in numvers, there is still more room for continued growth.
“Of course we will hit the ceiling in a number of breweries, but in the current situation we do not see that we are there yet,” says Cecilia Giertta, CEO of the Brewers of Sweden, roughly translated from Swedish. “High and consistent quality will always be a prerequisite for survival.”
Growth has apparently tapered a bit, however. Between 2011 and 2015, there were 14, 23, 35, 47, and 64 new brewery openings in each respective and successive year, indicative of steadily substantial gains. In 2016, though, the industry more or less kept pace with the year prior with 68 openings. Now, more than halfway through 2017, there have been 21 openings. So the country would need a fairly explosive second half of the year to match or exceed growth shown in the previous two years.
Still, regarding this past decade of renaissance, most of the growth actually happened in the last half-decade: Since 2013, there have been 235 openings. There are now 302 breweries. Meaning, nearly 80% of the country’s breweries have come online in the last 4 and a half years alone.
Regardless, the flood of new breweries has helped change the complexion of Sweden’s marketplace. In its statement, the Brewers of Sweden says the country’s small breweries accounted for 5.6% of all beer sales at Systembolaget – a state-run chain of liquor stores polled as the 10th most popular Swedish brand by market research firm YouGov – in 2016. That, the group says, is “a figure that has risen every year.”
Sweden, welcome to the club.
- Dave Eisenberg
From 30 to 300 – the Swedish brewery boom in numbers [Brewers of Sweden]