Monday 20th June 2016
Stockholm is a capital that is built on islands and away from the main ones that form the centre of the city there are no less than a further 2,000 that form the Stockholm archipelago or Skärgård as it is known in Swedish. Some are large and some are small, others are inhabited, others not. Those that have residences also have landing stages. Although private boat ownership is high, others rely on public timetabled services to get them to their destinations.
So, I went for a day on the waters of the archipelago. The initial part of this article has details of my day out and is quite frankly, a digression. So, if you are not interested please skip it. Stockholm is very interesting to the transport historian as it is still home to operating steam ships, some over a 100 years old and my plan today was to catch one to the island of Vaxholm and return on another.
For the first journey I was with Patrick and we arrived on the waterside at Strömkajen in central Stockholm. We got there early so as to ascertain the ticketing arrangement. The good news was that we could use our Greater Stockholm (SE) travel cards on the ship. So, with ten minutes to the departure time of 11.00 we were boarding the S.S. Norrskår. (See photo left.) The quay is opposite the Royal Palace and in front of that was another working steamship, the S.S. Blidösund. See photo, below right.
Tickets are bought on board; in our case travel cards were scanned and a paper ticket was delivered automatically. These were checked and collected when leaving the vessel. On the way out of the harbour we passed “The World” at anchor. (See photo, below left.) Built in 2002, this was the world’s first apartment cruise ship. Suites are rented for three months at a time and it becomes a home for that period. Some people live on it permanently and it visits every part of the planet.
In contrast, the Norrskår was built in 1910 at the Eriksbergs shipyard in Göteborg (Gothenburg). This beautiful ship has two passenger decks. You enter at the sharp end where the ticket office is located. Then there is a corridor on the left (starboard, correctly as we were walking down the ship. On our right was a small Dutch door where a glimpse of the engine room was possible.
I leaned over and could see the tops of the three cylinders. Three are required because the ship is powered by a triple-expansion compound engine. High pressure steam is injected into a small cylinder, after driving a stroke of the piston connected to the drive shaft. After being used it is exhausted now at a lower pressure to a medium sized cylinder for the same.
The process repeats itself once more into a large cylinder by then at a much lower pressure. Thus the steam is used three times over. It is supplied from a boiler that is oil-fired.
At this point I was impressed by the amount of varnished wood everywhere. Who needs a museum when you can still experience the real thing! Please see photo below right.
Towards the stern I found the bar-buffet and the toilets. Right at the blunt end there was a lovely lounge, completely enclosed so just right when the weather is not so good. Here I went up the stairs. Here I found another inside lounge and some outside seating where we settled.
The whole of the front of this deck is taken up by the restaurant, beautifully set out for customers with white linen. Dining here must be an experience in itself. Restaurants are only available on the steamboats which are larger than the normal ferries. Unfortunately they only operate in summer. In fact this was the first day of the Norrskår’s short season.
I bought us a beer and sat at an outside table watching the unfolding scenes of maritime activity.
All too soon our 75 minute journey was over. On Vaxholm we watched the Norrskår depart on its journey to the outer islands and soon found a bar that offered some non-mainstream beers. Patrick then left on a bus which operated over a bridge to the mainland. He had to get to the airport for a flight home to Düsseldorf.
I went back to the landing stage to observe the arrival and departure of the S.S. Storskår. It continued on a circular journey around nearby islands before returning to Vaxholm. I retired to the Vaxholms Hotel and had a bottle of local beer, Waxholms Bryggeri Pale Ale (5.2%). I wasn’t long until I heard the distinctive hooter of a steamship and quickly finished it to hurry across the road to arrive at the landing stage just as the Storskår was coming alongside (see photo, below left). Although it had left 10 minutes late not long ago, it was now 10 minutes early!
The Storskår was built in 1908 at Lindholmens shipyard in Göteborg (Gothenburg) and is slightly larger than the Norrskår. The Top Deck is mostly restaurant with deck seating on either side and a large open area at the stern. The Main Deck has a corridor either side with a comfy inside saloon at the stern end. But where was the bar? I found it at the bow end down some curved steps by the ticket office. It is the only public part of the Lower Deck as the remainder of it is taken up by the Engine Room.
Apart from a national draught beer the bar sold three types of bottled Waxholms Bryggeri beer: IPA (5.4%); Pale Ale (5.2%) and Premium Lager (5.0%). This is their full range with the exception of Julöl (5.7%), a Christmas beer. I’d already tried the Pale Ale, so I went for the IPA, which I enjoyed as I watched the ever changing panorama of shipping, large and small. In fact, approaching the city we were being chased by another steamship, the S.S. Stockholm (see photo, below right) which itself was followed by home-based cruise liner, M.V. Birka Princess.
And that is almost the end of my maritime-based digression, but I think it sets the scene. Once I arrived at Strömkajen I had but a short walk to a nearby harbour where I was to get the next ferry to Stora Fjäderholmarnen Island, home of Fjäderholmarnas Bryggeri, a brew-pub.
It was a very interesting walk, at least for me as I passed more steamships at moorings including another still in service, the Motala Express (photo, below left). Compared with these beautiful ships the ferry I was on now was very prosaic, being a bit like one of those glass-roofed sightseeing boats you see everywhere.
It has a bar yet I saw no reason to imbibe until I arrived on Fjäderholmarnen, as it was just a 25 minute trip.
It was not the first island brew-pub in Scandinavia I’ve visited; there’s a similar operation at Helsinki. It’s Suomenlinnan Panimo in Finnish or Sveaborgs Bryggeri in Swedish (see article in BeerVisits). Both are right by the quay the ferry arrives at, but I think this pub wins the race to be the shortest distance from the boat, about 20 metres!
Whereas most of the thirty or so passengers turned left to walk to the several restaurants on the island, I was the only one to go the other way to the pub.
Outside are two long wooden benches with eight small circular tables and I thought about settling there but opted to go inside. The pub is very small and the bar counter is directly in front of the entrance door.
I ordered a sample set of five beers and settled on a bench seat alongside the only wooden table on the left of the entrance.
As I started the beer tasting I cast my eye around the room. It is not large and very noticeable is the brewery at the far right end of the bar room. In a good position with a good view out to the water were a further three wooden tables with associated bench seats.
Before I tell you about the brewery I glimpsed a rather impressive sight. Well, at least for someone who is interested in passenger shipping. It was the ferry Silja Serenade (58,376 grt) passing on the Silja (Seal) Line’s 16.45 departure from Stockholm overnight to Helsinki in Finland and very impressive it looked too. The ferries used on this route and that of the competing Viking Line were once the largest in the world. I am determined to travel on this route someday. The journey out through the archipelago must be fantastic.
Like many a new brewery, the instigators of this one started in home-brewing. Pelle Ågren and Andreas Willman met in 2011 through their work in the drinks industry and started brewing together in the garage of Pelle’s grandfather at Värmdö on a nearby island. They achieved fifth place with an American Pale Ale in a national home-brewing competition. That was only their eighth brew yet it set the seed for their future venture. They opened the Fjäderholmarnas Bryggeri on 30th April 2014 with the mission to brew 30,000 litres per annum.
There are normally five draught beers offered and when I visited these were: Kellerführer (5.5%), a German-style Pils; Bitter Bandit (4.8%), an English Pale Ale; Monkey Business (5.2%), an American-style Pale Ale; Libertas (6.0%), an India Pale Ale and Roughneck Rye IPA (7.6%).
I had a sampler tray of the lot and thought they were all good. I didn’t have very long until the return ferry but nevertheless still managed a quick 0.4l of Bitter Bandit.
They also offered three of their beers in 0.33l bottles. These were: T-56 Stout (8.0%); Östersjö Porter (6.5%) and Mr Cocoa Imperial Stout (6.0%).
Please note that is against Swedish law to take beers away from a pub. However, this brewery’s beers are available in many of the state-owned Systemsbolaget shops around Stockholm.
There is a limited menu consisting of Chilli, Hamburger and Hot Dogs. There were also toasted sandwiches and a cold meats plate. Ice cream is on the menu. Nuts and crisps are also available.
This pub is a great destination on a sunny summer evening and that’s the way this day had turned out to be. The island has three restaurants and there is a smoke house example a little further up the quay.
Fjäderholmarnas Bryggeri, Kajhus 2, Stora Fjäderholmarnen, Stockholm 10005
Tel: 070 218 4453
Hours: The pub is only open during the summer months. Although brewing may take place in winter to supply other pubs and to the Systemsbolaget shops.
30th April - 5th June: Monday-Wednesday Closed; Thursday-Friday 14.00-23.00;
Saturday 12.00-23.00; Sunday 12.00-20.00
6th June - 26th August: Monday-Saturday 12.00-23.00; Sunday 12.00-20.00
27th August - 4th September: Monday-Friday 12.00-23.00;
Saturday 16.00-23.00; Sunday 12.00-23.00
The ferry is operated by the Strömma Line. It leaves Strandvägen in central Stockholm hourly throughout the day. In the low summer there is no 15.30 sailing or 16.00 return. In high summer there are extra sailings. The journey takes 25 minutes. http://www.stromma.se/en