History and Culture on a Beer Can

23 01 2023

The first SAHSWI Fika meeting of 2023, held at Martin Luther Lutheran Church on January 21, 2023, featured SAHSWI members Del and Susan Worden’s presentation of Swedish history and culture expressed on a unique media – beer cans. Del, a collector of beer cans from various countries, showed his collection of cans from Sweden manufactured in the 1970’s, and discussed the subjects the cans portrayed.

All these cans are made of steel and displays pictures and text of different themes.

  • The Birka Beer series of 25 cans has historical information about the Vikings. Birka, the first Swedish town or settlement, (founded 750 AD) became an important trading center. Includes illustrations and description of Viking ships, their weapons, helmets, coins, trade with Asia, and their colonization.
  • The Sami Drum 5-can set show magical symbols only understood by a sorcerer called a “nåid” when he was establishing contact with the spiritual world. Symbols include, the Sorcerer, the Sorcerer’s bird and reindeer, The Sami hunter and the Goddess “Akka”
  • Brygghusöl a 5-can series of beer you can afford to like” picturing different common professions: The Miner, The Glass Blower, The Cook, The Market Woman
  • Gränges Export Beer, a set of cans picturing artworks from Swedish and foreign artists, including Swedish artists, Pehr Hillestrom, Wilhelm Wallander, and Albin Amelin
From left to right: The Viking ship from the Birka series, The Sami hunter from Sami Drum set, The Miner from the Brygghusöl set, and The Meal from the Gränges Export set of art.
  • Granges Fatol, presenting a different can for each of the different provinces (landskap) in Sweden,
  • Hansa Fatöl, a 5-can set with drawings of historic sites from the city of Visby on the island of Gotland.
  • Skepparöl a 7-can set show illustrations of different historic ships
  • Wasa Export Beer, a single can illustrating the powerfully armed warship that sank in August of 1628 on its maiden voyage.
From left Uppland from Gränges Provinces series, The North City Gate from the Hansa Fatöl Visby set, Zoroaster 1877 from Skepparöl set, and Wasa Export Bier, cans made for export to Germany

Del also discussed his collecting hobby, the evolution of breweries in Sweden, and about the classification of beer in Sweden, which is based on the alcohol content. Only class I and II beers are available for purchase in grocery stores, the stronger class III can only be purchased at the state-controlled liquor store “Systembolaget” or licensed restaurants.

Please find below the complete Powerpoint presentation

There were over 40 people attending the meeting who after the presentation enjoyed the traditional Fika with coffee and sweets donated by the attendants. Mary Stetson and Carol Gustafson entertained playing Swedish folk music on violin.