Norway may not seem like the most obvious place for a holiday filled with beer due to its well-documented high alcohol prices, but we didn’t let that stop us. Yes, it’s expensive but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth a visit and if you stick to smaller drinks and are prepared to only go out for a couple, it’s not going to totally break the bank. Here’s a little look at where to buy and drink craft beer in Bergen.
On the flight
One of the major airlines travelling to Bergen is SAS and flying SAS has one major benefit – they have Mikkeller available on board. Mikkeller do a few beers for SAS but it seems that each flight only offers one variant. It’s a full size can and they don’t open it for you, so if you wanted to you can take it away. The price varies depending on which currency you’re paying in but it’s not actually that expensive considering you’re on a plane. It was also the first time I’ve ever had a beer in the air – what a novelty!
Norway has some fairly high taxes on alcohol but heading to the duty free section is a great way to get decent priced booze. Unlike airports in the UK which tend to just have crappy lager on offer, Bergen Airport has a good range of craft beer.
Alongside a selection from Nogne Ø, beers from Kinn, 7fjell and Austmann were also available. The beer is significantly cheaper than anywhere else, so it’s definitely worth stocking up while you can.
One aspect of Norway’s laws on booze is that alcohol over 4.7% can only be bought from the government-owned chain of alcohol shops. These have fairly limited opening times as they’re only open until 6pm weeknights, mid-afternoon on Saturdays and not at all on Sundays.
Plenty of Norwegian breweries are represented alongside a decent selection from the UK, Denmark, Belgium, the US and more. There does seem to be a bit of an odd pricing structure thought as Old Speckled Hen was more expensive than Buxton. A funny little quirk.
At the supermarkets
Lower alcohol beer can be bought from the supermarkets at a much more purse-friendly price. Aegir and Nogne Ø cans were a couple of the beers we found in the supermarket – but it’s worth remembering that although the shop may be open until 11pm you can’t buy beer after 8pm. There’s no sign or cordoning off of the beer section to say this, so we unfortunately didn’t find out this rule until we got to the till.
Apollon is a fun little venue which is half record shop and half bar. There are 35 beers available on draught (although this does include the likes of Fullers and Tuborg) and about half of them are from Norwegian breweries.
The atmosphere is very chilled out and it attracts a varied range of visitors. Seating options include stools at the bar and in the window and larger tables at the back.
It stays open until midnight and the staff are very knowledgeable about their beer and more than happy to talk you through what’s on draught. There’s also free wifi.
Nygårdsgaten 2a – apollon.no
Henrik Øl og Vinstove
For sheer choice, Henrik Øl og Vinstove is the place for craft beer in Bergen as they have more than 50 beers on offer at any one time. Norwegian breweries like Haandbryggeriet, Lervig, 7fjell, Qvart and Kinn were available during our visit as well as Amager, Mikkeller and, for some reason, Fuller’s London Pride.
It’s not a large venue but it’s impressive how they’ve managed to cram all the 50+ taps behind the bar and squeezed in a decent among of seating. It does get busy too – even on a Tuesday evening, every table was filled by the time we left.
There’s no wifi available which was a bit disappointing as if I’m spending £7/8 on a half I want to be able to check on Untappd that I’ve not had it before!
Engen 10 – ve.no/Index_henrik.html
I wasn’t too sure about Bryggeriet at first but I was pleasantly surprised. It’s located in a complex right on Bergen’s harbour which also features a country and western bar and a pizza place which didn’t fill me with confidence. Bryggeriet is located on on one of the upper floors of the building (head inside and up the stairs) and it’s a world away from some of the less inviting bars and eateries you see at the front.
Most of the beer available in from the in-house brewery (Bergenhus Bryggeri) which is led by an Irish chap who gave us a little tour of the brewery which is located just behind the bar. They also have guest beers including Stone and Nogne Ø among others.
Part of the venue is designated as a restaurant and the food wasn’t too expensive (considering Norway prices anyway!)
Tip: There’s a little terrace to the side if you want to enjoy your beer in the great outdoors.
As a smallish city, Bergen doesn’t offer a huge range of beer bars but the ones the city does have are well-stocked and worth seeking out. Just don’t think too much about the price.