Friday 10th June 2016
Gävle is a town of just over 70,000 inhabitants that is north of the Swedish capital, Stockholm. At 60˚ North it is at the same latitude as Helsinki, the Finnish capital. It is the largest town in Norrland (North Land), the vast area at the top of the country. This is despite the fact it is only a one and a half hours train journey from Stockholm. It is located where Dalälven River enters the Baltic Sea, although that cannot be seen from the town centre, only the river. It has a noted university.
This pub is part of an expanding chain of 40 pubs that spread from the very far south to one above the Arctic Circle (see article on the Bishop’s Arms, Kiruna). The first was established in the town of Västerås within the building of the Elite Stadshotellet during 1993. This hotel chain is the actual parent company of the Bishop’s Arms Group. They operate 28 hotels in Sweden, some with Bishop’s Arms attached. The name of the pubs came about because of the location of the first pub was close to the cathedral.
The pubs are unashamedly based on the English model. Back in the UK some pubs were being redecorated in exactly the same style during the early 1990s; lots of polished wood, bookcases and shiny brass fittings. Whilst it is a fake style, their pubs are nonetheless comfortable with lots of room for eating and drinking.
Most of the interior materials were bought from England. The concept is to offer good food with a large range of beers and single malt Scotch whiskies in an environment that does not include televisions. They also make a point that they do not have karaoke nights.
However, the pub quiz is alive and kicking in the various Bishop’s Arms. Apart from weekly competition nights, the company sponsors a nationwide quiz that begins in the autumn and culminates with the local winners going to Stockholm for the final in the early New Year with accommodation in an Elite Hotel and meals included.
I was in Gävle with Patrick and we made the short walk from the station to the pub, passing the impressive Grand Hotel on the way. See below article for walking instructions.
Outside the pub we noticed a small drinking area on the pavement of Södra Kungsgaten, This is a main street of Gävle and there are several other good pubs and bars in this area.
Inside, after adjusting my eyes to the darker interior, I saw what is a typical Bishop’s Arms. At the back of the pub is a room with the almost mandatory shelves of books.
There are cushioned bench seats along the walls which are faced by wooden tables and loose chairs. There is a lovely mirror at the end of this room with deer’s antlers above.
The highly polished bar counter is on the right of the room. On one side there are a number of alcove-type seats with low partitions. There are a couple of upright varnished tables in the middle of the pub.
The walls are festooned with old paintings and there are even some old leaded stained glass separators. The shaded light fittings are mostly made of brass and are affixed to the walls.
There were a vast number of regular keg beers and most were the international “favourites” that grace most European beer bars.
I’ll just name them with no other details: Carlsberg (Sweden) Hof and Eriksberg; Shepherd Neame Samuel Adams Lager and Bishop’s Finger; Budvar; Bitburger; Staropramen; Guinness Extra Stout and Smithwick’s Ale; Newcastle Brown Ale; Charles Wells Bombardier, Fuller’s ESB; Innis & Gunn Stout; Greene King Belhaven Twisted Thistle IPA; Hoegaarden and Erdinger wheat.
Amongst the regulars were two of interest. Firstly Gottlands Wisby Lager (5.0%) brewed at the Gottlands Bryggerei of Visby, the main town on the Baltic island of Gotland. Whilst travelling around the country their beers were often a lifeline for us.
The other beer of mention is Nils Oscar (Nyköping, Sweden) Hop Yard (7.3%), which I’m afraid we passed. There are also four hand pumps but please refer to the article on the Bishop’s Arms in Kiruna for details.
There were five guest beers and these were: Poppel’s (Mölnlyke, Sweden) Seasonal IPA (4.2%); PangPang (Fasta, Sweden) Södra Kungsgatan IPA (6.2%); Oskar Blues (Longmont, Colorado, USA) Dale’s Pale Ale (6.5%); Four Pure (Bermondsey, London, UK) IPA (6.5%) and finally Gypsy Inc Pale Trail (4.7%).
As the name implies the latter is a “cuckoo” brewing company, based in Copenhagen, Denmark. This particular beer was brewed at Proefbrouwerij in Hijfte, Belgium, whose output is almost totally contract brewing.
With a couple of other good beer bars nearby this is a pub to visit should you find yourself in Gävle.
The Bishops Arms, Södra Kungsgaten 7, Gävle 80251. Tel: 026 652575
Hours: Monday 16.00-22.00; Tuesday-Thursday 16.00-23.00;
Friday 16.00-01.00; Saturday 13.00-01.00; Sunday 14.00-22.00.
These times were taken from the sign outside the pub.
Gävle station is about an hour and a half’s journey time from Stockholm Central. There is a train about every hour. There are many connections to other parts of the country.
Worthy of mention is the station’s bar which served two draught Gottlands Bryggerei beers. They were: Sleepy Bulldog Summer Pale Ale (5.0%) and Sitting Bulldog (6.4%).
From the station go out through the main exit where the bar is located. Cross the station square (Stationsplan) to the left corner. Go down the short road Centralgränd to the river bridge (Murénbron). Cross this or the adjacent footbridge and turn right into Södra Strandgatan. Continue along here to the first river bridge on your right. Turn left here into Rådmansgatan. You will see the Terrassen Pub & Kök (see BeerVisits article) in front of you. Turn left into Södra Kungsgaten and you'll find the Bishop’s Arms a few metres along.