They started their own microbrewery in an old farm in the south of Sweden only three years ago. Now they’re looking to sell 600 000 bottles of beer in 2016. How did this happen?

It was during a US road trip that the three high school friends discussed what they should do with their lives. One of them, Marcus Lundmark, had just finished his agricultural studies and had recently bought an old farm from the 19th century, called Klackabacken, in the south of Sweden. He wanted to grow apples and raise organic pigs, but he also had an old, empty barn. What use could they make of it? Brainstorming ensued.

Compatible backgrounds

Christoffer Ljunggren, also in the car, was already tired of working as a chef. He had done some time at the prestigious New York restaurant Aquavit and was now studying to become a brewer instead. The third passenger Olof Olsson had studied finance and marketing, and started thinking of ways to build a brand.

We soon realized that the barn would be perfect for a microbrewery, said Olof. Suddenly we had the venue, the craftsmanship and the tools for outreach.

Said and done, but turning this worn-down old building into a health-regulated and approved brewing facility was not easy. During 2011 and 2012 they put all their money and time into the renovation project, and thanks to crowdfunding from early membership payments, they had some capital to move forward.

In April 2013, the first batch of Klackabacken beer was shipped to some local Swedish liquor stores as well as a few pubs and restaurants. The company gained media attention as well.

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Ten-fold capacity increase

– Since then, Klackabacken has built a new brewery nearby, increasing the production capacity from 40 000 litres a year to 400 000 litres. In 2016, the goal is to ship approximately 600 000 bottles of beer, with eight different flavours and varieties. They have recently opened a popular weekend restaurant and a pub where new exciting flavour combinations can be explored.

I think one part of our success is that this has evolved as a hobby project, says Olof, responsible for PR and marketing, but who still holds another day job. The three of us had very compatible personalities and backgrounds, which has helped a lot.

Klackabacken

Social media as marketing tool

– Working with a non-existing marketing budget, social media has been the key to building a devoted following.

Ever since the crowd-funding days we have a great fan base. We try to keep a very open and transparent dialogue with our customers on Facebook and Instagram. We can see sales directly linked to our social media activities.

Would you recommend anyone starting a microbrewery?

– Looking back, it was probably a bit naïve to start with such a problematic building. But there is huge potential in this segment – our kind of craft beer is only four percent of the total beer sales in Sweden, so there is market share up for grabs. And the craft beer industry is very open and welcoming. I would say that the interest and knowledge for beer is now where wine was twenty years ago. Our job is to spread inspiration on how different beer works together with flavours in food. And that journey has just about started.