What’s a Swedish-Style Gotlandsdricka?
A beer made by Vikings. Only order it if you can pronounce it.
Written by Scott Thurston
Image by Kinsley Stocum
Gotlandsdricka, a beer style pioneered by Vikings, hails from the Swedish island of Gotland. The name itself means either “Gotland drink” or “Drink of the Land of the Goths” depending on who you ask; and it, like many other unique regional styles, such as sahti and gruit, utilizes a brewing process developed by the native inhabitants of the island. Depending on what was seasonally available, Gotlandsdricka was typically brewed with a variety of grains malted directly in the smoke of a fire, and that smoked malt flavor is a hallmark of the style. Additionally, sweetgale and hops were added to increase the sweetness and complexity of the final product.
Brewing of Gotlandsricka traditionally occurred in a Rostbunn. The Rostbunn is a wooden vessel layered with juniper branches and straw, which were used to filter out the wort from the mash once the sugars had been extracted from the grains. Despite all the similarities between traditional beer and Gotlandsdricka, Gotlanders differentiated between the two in that beer was reserved for special occasions while Gotlandsdricka was reserved for common occasions such as sharing a meal, not unlike Belgian table beers. Gotlandsdricka also shares many of the same ingredients as the Finnish sahti; however, sahti often has a banana-like flavor owing to their native yeast, whereas the Gotland brewers used baking yeast when making Gotlandsdricka.