Beer and swimrun? Marcus Wärme breaks drinking culture taboo

May 1, 2018

Pierre Mangez

Marcus Wärme, marketing mastermind at Sweden’s award-winning microbrewery Nynäshamns Ångbryggeri, taps into the truth about Sweden’s boozy reputation as he talks to Nancy Heslin about promoting a healthier drinking culture through swimrun.

NH: As one of Sweden’s biggest craft breweries with 14 employees, you brew more than 18 different beers including ÖTILLÖ. What is your philosophy and how did you design decide? on the taste for the ÖTILLÖ?
MW: Our philosophy has always been to brew classic styles of beer with balance and high drinkability. We are not one of those breweries that compete at having the strongest or strangest beers.

As for ÖTILLÖ, we aimed to create a beer that’s ideal after you’ve drained yourself of not just all that physical energy but mental output as well. In other words, post-race you don’t want a strong, heavy beer that will make you pass out, right? ÖTILLÖ is full of aromas from the hops with a body to balance it out and at just 3.5% alcohol.

NH: Last year, you formed Team Nynäshamns Ångbryggeri, with friends Joakim Brunzell and Johan Carlsson, who participated in all ÖTILLÖ races in 2017. How did that go?
MW: Well above our expectations. We are stoked that they actually won the World Series Swimrun Ranking Standings. We are so happy to see our friends fulfil their dream of competing against the strongest athletes in this sport. Their positive, always smiling attitude with Joakim jumping at each Finish Line makes them perfect Ambassadors not just for the sport of swimrun but also for our way of life: you can race and train hard, and still treat yourself with a good beer now and then.

NH: In Sweden, the “afterwork” movement is gaining in popularity, and although Swedes are drinking on more occasions, they are actually drinking much less than ten years ago. How would you describe the drinking scene in Sweden today?
MW: We are definitely moving in the right direction. Consumers are so much more educated today as they choose to drink less but much higher quality beers.

NH: Worldwide beer consumption shrank by 1.8% in 2015, although dollar sales are increasing, as people are not only choosing higher quality beers but also looking for “one-of-a-kind experiences” associated with their beer drinking. How do you describe the OTILLO beer-swimrun experience?
MW: I think what we are trying to do together with Michael Lemmel and Mats Skott and the fantastic crew behind ÖTILLÖ is to change the view on alcohol in our country. Traditionally, it’s been embarrassing to say you had a beer on Tuesday. By having an elite team competing in one of the hardest races on the planet, we are trying to show people that there’s nothing wrong with enjoying a quality hand-crafted beer with good friends once in a while, in moderation, of course. And you can’t create a better memory than a swimrun weekend at one of ÖTILLÖ’s “unique races in unique places”, topped off with a well-deserved post-race beer.

NH: Recent research has shown that the antioxidants present in hops, which are part of the beer production and storage process, are of considerable importance in the brewing industry with favourable health effect on beer consumers. For example, a key role in hop antioxidant activity helps regulate blood pressure and blood glucose levels, and provides anti-cancer benefits. Additionally, hop leaves contain chemicals that have sedative effects which induce relaxation and sleep, and hops contain estrogen-like chemicals that have benefits for menopause symptoms. With all this positive data, how can you help create a healthier image for artisanal beers?
MW: Well, we are doing what we’ve been doing for over twenty years now – brewing organic beers for people who want to enjoy a natural taste more than feel the side-effects of alcohol. And it’s true, with all the positive antioxidant effects of hops, soon doctors could be prescribing beer as medicine!

Article first published in Swimrun Life Magazine Issue #7 (May 2018)

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