Jenny Pfafflin is passionate about beer. She is a certified cicerone who will be at the Swedish American Museum in Chicago to talk about, among other things, a new renaissance in Sweden: the beer renaissance.

The beer renaissance in Sweden is very similar to that in the U.S., encouraged in part by President Jimmy Carter, who in 1978 signed a bill making home brewing legal in the U.S. Homebrewers started opening brewpubs and breweries, and the craft beer movement took off. Fast forward 25 years, and the U.S. is now the leader in craft beer.
Swedish beer drinkers noticed what was going on in the U.S. Pfafflin says more American beer is exported to Sweden than any other country in the world aside from Canada, and “the influence of American craft beer in Sweden has inspired a craft movement of its own.” In the past few years exciting new brews from Brekeriet, Modernist Brewing and Omnipollo have arrived, as have brand-new beer bars, and American-based craft beer giant Brooklyn Brewery opened the doors to Nya Carnegie, a Stockholm-based brewery collaboration with Carlsberg Sweden.

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Pfafflin will showcase several Swedish beers at the event, a couple Nordic beers, including a Berliner Weisse from Copenhagen, and an Icelandic stout from Ölvisholt Brugghús. She will also share American-made beers with Swedish roots, featuring Vattentorn, a Baltic Porter that was made collaboratively by Metropolitan Brewing and Andersonville Brewing in the Andersonville neighborhood. Also on tap will be Hammarby Syndrome from Brooklyn Brewery, a Swedish-inspired strong ale made to celebrate the opening of its sister brewery, Nya Carnegie, in Stockholm.

Metropolitan Brewing and Andersonville Brewing’s “Vattentorn” (water tower) is extra special: It was brewed especially to raise money for the Swedish American Museum's Water Tower Fund.
For nearly 90 years the water tower above the Swedish American Museum, today known as the Andersonville Water Tower, has served as a landmark for the neighborhood that was once home to a majority of Swedish immigrants. In the 1990s the water tower tank was painted to look like the Swedish flag and it didn't take long for neighborhood residents to fully embrace it as their own symbol. Expected to have a lifespan of 50 to 100 years, the water tower was originally erected in 1927, and provided water to the building’s fire suppression system. Years of maintenance and restoration couldn’t beat the record harsh winter of 2014, however; a thick layer of ice irreparably cracked the tank’s base, which leaked into the museum.

Pfafflin, who can't claim any Swedish heritage, has loved living in Andersonville for eight years. She says, “When the symbol of our neighborhood pride — the historic water tower that sat atop the Swedish American Museum — was damaged during one of Chicago's worst winters, I knew I wanted to do something to help reclaim that symbol.”

Like Pfafflin, a person needn’t be Swedish to appreciate this special event, but chances are good that even the non-Swedes know how to pronounce “Skål,” the fitting name of the event on October 16 at which she will discuss and teach everything she knows about these tasty craft beers.

Skål is a toast to the favored water tower, a toast with raised glasses of specialty beers for tasting. Proceeds from the event will go toward restoring the Andersonville Water Tower. This first annual event is selling out quickly, so register soon. www.swedishamericanmuseum.org. October 16, 7-9 p.m. 5211 N. Clark St., Chicago, IL 60640

And if you’re headed to Sweden, Pfafflin suggests you may want to keep tabs on what’s happening in the always evolving Swedish beer scene: A couple beer writers to follow are Joel Linderoth at Expressen's Mitt Kök and Tobias Göth at Allt om Mat.