dags för dunderglögg! (…more or less)

Many weeks ago, I promised you a recipe for Gothenburg, Sweden’s favorite glögg. Please don’t blame my friend for the lag; she sent the recipe to me long ago and then Christmas happened and then I must have fallen asleep for four weeks. Anyhow, technically it’s not Christmas anymore, but it’s still winter in most parts of the United States (or so I’ve heard tell), so I’ll go ahead and post the recipe. That way it’ll be handy next fall when it’s time to start the arduous process of dumping all the ingredients in a bucket and then twiddling your thumbs for six weeks.

My parents' backyard in Ohio last winter

The recipe comes to us from Karin who lives in Sweden (and is, conveniently, Swedish) via her local paper, the Gothenburg Post, which publishes it every October so everyone can have a batch of dunderglögg ready by the first Sunday of Advent which is apparently when all of Sweden hauls out the Christmas lights. It’s one of those recipes that I haven’t made but plan to try next year for the holidays, assuming I can get my hands on one of the main ingredients, svagdricka, in Tucson.

Svagdricka is a very low-alcohol, mildly sweet malt beverage popular around the holidays in Sweden. I’ve seen it called a beer, a near beer, a “primitive beer”, a soft drink, and a beer/soft drink. What many internexperts (“internet experts” aka “people who write sh** on the internet. Like me. I’m an internexpert”) agree on is that it’s something of an acquired taste. I’m not hopeful about finding it around here, but I’ll think harder about it in a few months when I become start to become desperate. According to the glögg man at the Gothenburg Post, there’s simply no replacement for svagdricka. I’ve found, however, suggestions for substitutions in cooking that may or may not work well while making the glögg below. You could try a low-alcohol, malty, not-too-hoppy beer or look for Malta, which is a sweet, non-alcoholic, carbonated malt beverage that originated in Germany and is popular today in the Caribbean, areas of Africa, and parts of Europe. Malta may be as hard to find as svagdricka, but you might try your local Latin market.

Once you get past the whole “finding svagdricka” problem and the conversion of the ingredients (which I have done for you – score!), the rest of the recipe looks like a snap. You just need a bucket and some patience.

(Translated from the Gothenburg Post)
Makes: several bottles

Note that you must begin this recipe at least three to six weeks in advance of when you want to drink it. Don’t feel you have to follow the measurements exactly – add what you think will taste best to you. “ …it’s fun to make, it smells nice, and I’ve never heard of it turning out badly, no matter what you put in there it always turns out good,” says our informant, Karin. “As a matter of fact I think I’m going to go heat up a cup of that stuff right now and see if it helps warm my feet up. It’s been snowing a lot lately and my apartment is kind of cold…”

5 liter svagdricka (1.5 gallons)
5 raw potatoes, sliced
50 gr baking yeast (about 2 ¾ Tablespoons)
1 bag of cloves (about 11 grams) (about 2 Tablespoons)
1 bag of cardamom seeds (20 grams) (scant 3 Tablespoons)
about 5 cm fresh ginger
1 cinnamon stick
2 boxes of raisins (about 500 grams) (3 1/3 cups)
2.5 kilograms sugar (10 to 10.5 cups)

Mix everything in a 10 liter (probably about a 3-gallon) bucket. Cover with plastic wrap, make tiny holes in the plastic, and let sit in room temperature for at least three weeks, preferably six. Pour onto clean bottles using a siphon. Be careful not to get any of the sediment in the bottom of the bucket into the bottles.


9 responses to “dags för dunderglögg! (…more or less)

  1. I wonder if they sell svagdricka at Ikea…

  2. Karin suggested this as well, but our Ikea is in Phoenix and too far away to run over and check. And as svagdricka has a small amount of alcohol in it, I kind of thought probably not. But you should definitely let me know if you ever find it there!

  3. If I remember to check next time I’m there, I’ll let you know. Of course, I’m in Utah, so the alcohol thing might keep it out of our Ikea even if it’s in other Ikeas. It’s not on their website, though. I wonder if I could just use gluten-free beer.

  4. Just wondering if you have a solution for Svegdricka substitution? I got the Dunderglogg recipe from Lars (wife’s-cousin’s-husband…) also hailing from Gothenburg. I’m going to have a lot of Swede’s judging me on this batch – my wife’s already written it off as a hoax because of the ingredient list. Any help?

  5. I haven’t found a solution to the Svegdricka problem but have been thinking hard about starting this recipe over the upcoming Thanksgiving weekend. This will be the first time I’ve ever made it.

    I’ve never tasted svagdricka, so I’m going in kind of blind here. I did find a blog whose author suggests the flavor reminds him of a bock with horehound components: http://monthlyrootbeer.com/2010/12/20/gammaldags-svagdricka/ (although according to wikipedia, bocks range from about 6 – 12 % alcohol content, whereas svagricka is more like 0.5 – 1.5% – not sure how that will affect things.) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bock

    And Karin said once that you MIGHT consider using root beer (but she sounded skeptical).

    Although this won’t go too far towards alleviating your wife’s fears, I’m leaning towards some kind of root beer/bock combo. I don’t have any Swedes judging my outcome, however, so I have some freedom to play around. I have also just been remembered that I DO know a guy whose extended family is in Sweden. I’ll see if he has any advice and get back to you.

  6. My friend from Gothenburg says she thinks a combination of bock beer and root beer might be a good one as a substitute, although I’ll probably want to leave out some of the sugar since root beer’s a lot sweeter than svagdricka. I think I’m going to go with that, then. If it doesn’t come out, there’s always next year!

  7. I got the rootbeer recommendation from the person I know in Gothenburg too. I like your idea of mixing the two though. Maybe I’ll consult a brewmaster I know in CO and see what he thinks. I’ll be getting mine going this weekend too. Since I’m surrounded by Swede’s (and have consumed gallons of the stuff over my 11 year marriage to one) I’ll let you know how the reviews turn out.

  8. It’s a bit too late, but maybe next year… Originally from Gothenburg, I live in Germany where you won’t get any Svagdricka either. I didn’t want to miss out on my dunderglögg though so when I moved here, I started experimenting, and I got the best results with Malzbier, an alcohol free sort of beer which is quite common in Germany. Since it has loads of sugar in it, I reduced the amount of sugar with 0.5 kilos. I also add two or three crushed elderberries, as they too are used in svagdricka. You can actually use all sorts of malt-based alcohol free (or low-alcohol) sorts of beer, you just need to do some calculating to find out how much sugar you have to add.
    For the last couple of years, I’ve been using dried cranberries instead of most of the raisins (or other dried fruit), which gives a nice sort of fruity flavour.
    Dunderglögg gets even better with time, we drank the last of last year’s bottles the other day, and it was better than ever! Lycka till med bryggandet!

  9. Thanks, Holger. I appreciate the advice. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find Malzbier (or elderberries) here either. I put everything together today for the first time since planning originally to do this two years ago. SO we’ll finally get to see how it actually turns out in a few weeks! I wound up using a somewhat low-alcohol pumpkin beer (6 bottles) plus one bottle of good root beer, and currants. Fingers crossed something good happens!

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