“He said they wanted to build a brewery on Gotland and they were in a hurry,” says Johan.
The plan was for Gotlands Bryggeri to be built from scratch and be ready by midsummer the following year.
“It seemed like mission impossible, but I took on the job. And come midsummer 1995 we were brewing our first beer on the scaffolding,” he laughs.
Wisby Klosteröl was born.
A key part of the work in developing Wisby Klosteröl was done by a focus group of eight beer enthusiasts.
“The idea was for it to be a modern beer but to also be linked to the island’s traditional alcoholic beverage Gotlandsdricke,” recounts Erik Broström, who was part of the first focus group.
He recalls that the head brewer at Spendrups Brewery developed four different beers, which they then tasted. From those four beers one was chosen and that formed the basis for further trial beers. Finally, they produced a beer that everyone was satisfied with.
“It took eight months,” he says.
In 2007, Johan Spendrup returned to the brewery as Managing Director and head brewer. That’s when we also became a separate company and were able to focus all our energy.
“I came back because I wanted to do my own thing and realised that Gotlands Bryggeri hadn’t got the recognition it deserved. I’d seen that breweries in the UK had a focus on tradition and craftsmanship. I wanted to create something similar here,” says Johan.
He noted that Swedish bars had a poor range of draft beers and he initially focused on getting products into bars that placed more importance on beer. Those bars became ambassadors for the brewery’s beers. Since then, the beer market has exploded and Gotlands Bryggeri has been a natural part of this development.
“These days it’s not unusual to be recommended a beer to go with your main course at a restaurant,” says Johan with satisfaction.
He believes we’ve found a way not to compromise on quality, but to still appeal to more people than just beer enthusiasts.
“Our aim is for our products to be appreciated by both enthusiasts and anyone who enjoys a good quality beer with their meal,” he says.
What’s important, he says, is to keep developing. To find influences from outside, but to always be firmly rooted in the heritage of Gotland.