An Introduction to Norway’s Craft Beer

The following is a guest post by John Spirov of


Arriving in the quaint city of Stavanger, Norway, we wandered the streets to get a feel for the surrounds. Having done some beer research beforehand, we knew of an establishment in town called the Cardinal Bar. This was the afternoon for careless abandon; forget the price of alcohol and just get stuck into the quality craft beers on offer.
We had a chat with the barman and decided to start with something on tap. The Hoppy Birthday Oat IPA (6.2%) and Rye IPA (7.7%), both from the local Lervig microbrewery were a great beginning. The Norwegians are serious about their pale ales, be it Indian or American style. These were delicious and ‘in your face’. The following week I picked up the local Lucky Jack American pale ale (4.7%) from the supermarket and it followed suit from the Cardinal experience.
My favourite type of beer in the last six months is porter. I love stouts but porters hold something more powerful than a brown beer and more subtle than a stout. It appears that Norway is well-versed in all darker varieties, including the much maligned amber ale.
At Cardinal, I selected the Costa Rica Porter (6.0%) from Haand Brewery. The coffee beans on the label were no ruse – alcohol and coffee in each mouthful didn’t disappoint, if not everyone’s taste. The London Porter (4.5%) I purchased later from the same brewery and the Sumbel Porter (4.7%) from the Aegir Brewery were equally delectable with the malt and roasted flavours abundant.
I finished with the Lervig Konrad’s Imperial Stout (10.4%) which was the last ‘meal’ for the day. Since then, I’ve only had access to beers found in the supermarket. Even though they are limited to 4.7% alcohol and lower, the choice is still pretty good in a place called Meny.
The local Betty Brown Ale (4.7%), Rav Amber Ale (4.7%) from Berentsens Brewery, Rallar Amber Ale (4.7%) from Aegir Brewery and Bitter (4.5%) from Nøgne Ø Brewery all dazzled my palate in a show of prowess. Meny stocks at least four different styles from these breweries with blonde ales and wheat beer also available, but not yet sampled by myself. Norway’s close proximity to Germany is the reason for this, but it’s clear to me that the Norwegian master brewers specialize in dark beer and that’s just fine by me (although my gut may protest in a year or so)!
I look forward to going back to Cardinal and also the fantastic Vinmonopolet wine and beer shop to try new beers from new breweries with no limits on alcohol content. Norway is different in an awesome way and I can’t wait for summer barbecues, where we’ll be breathing the fresh air and drinking the great beer!


Learn more about John Spirov and his love of beers on his site Inspiring Travellers where he mainly writes about craft beer from around the world.

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  • Reply
    June 18, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    I have thought a long time about coffee flavored beer, but I didn’t know that it actually existed. I also didn’t think that it would be any kind of a good idea. I guess I was wrong.

  • Reply
    May 3, 2012 at 10:18 pm

    I am so, so jealous right now. Please tell me they export to the US!?

  • Reply
    Alexa Meisler
    May 3, 2012 at 7:46 pm

    That’s a great list of beers. So many choices that I haven’t even tried! Not really a fan of porters but I think I will like the Rallar Amber Ale.

  • Reply
    Natasha von Geldern
    May 1, 2012 at 2:21 am

    Hoppy Birthday – LOL! These beers all sound seriously good. I’ll try not to think about how much they cost – just that they’re “reassuringly expensive”. Especially those Porters, yum.

  • Reply
    April 29, 2012 at 9:10 am

    Great close up shots to some great brands.

  • Reply
    April 27, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    A few weeks here, and you know more about Norwegian beer than I do – and I’ve lived here for most of my life…

  • Reply
    April 27, 2012 at 11:14 am

    I have yet to develop a taste for beer. But I have hope – after 10 years of trying, I’m starting to like wine. Maybe by my 40s I’ll be into beer. :)

  • Reply
    Red Hunt
    April 26, 2012 at 1:39 pm

    Nice list of beers. The Rye IPA sounds tasty. I’ve had a number of Nøgne beers from Norway, but looks like I need to seek out Haandbryggeriet too. Are beer prices at bars still as crazy in Norway as they are in Sweden?

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