28 February, 2008


I discovered Julmust at IKEA, where the signs described it as "Swedish Root Beer." I'm pretty sure that they only said that because the unique flavor defies easy explanation.

A non-alcoholic fizzy drink made from hops and malt but otherwise without much beery character, Julmust is a dark beverage with a faintly bitter, herbal element that makes it flavorful and refreshing in a way that sweeter pops don't quite manage. The bitterness that the hops lent to the drink make Julmust somewhat comparable to Moxie, the New England soft drink flavored with gentian root.

Julmust syrup is produced exclusively by Roberts AB in Örebro, Sweden. According to Roberts company history, must was invented in 1910 by Harry and Robert Roberts as a non-alcoholic alternative to beer. Although several companies bottle it (including Coca-Cola) all of the bottlers obtain the syrup from Roberts. The formula is as carefully guarded a trade secret as the formula for Coke.

I'm told that Julmust far outsells even marketing giant Coca-Cola during the December holiday season in Sweden, accounting for more than 50% of all soft drinks sold during that timeframe.

I found Julmust to be quite enjoyable, and I was glad that I bought as many bottles as I did when I was at IKEA. When the current stock is gone there won't be any more until next Christmas.

Relevant link: Roberts AB website (English Language version)

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