30 November 2007
Most beer available in Norway is a light coloured pils, or lager - but that changes in the
weeks before Christmas, with many breweries producing special Christmas beers which are
darker, heavier and sweeter.
They are called Juleøl or Julebrygg in Norwegian and are designed to compliment
the heavy, rich Christmas foods, like Pinnekjøtt
Please contact us if you have questions or comments.
There are many types and strengths of Christmas beer, ranging from alcohol-free to strong (around
6.5%). The supermarkets can sell beer up to 4.7% (klass D) so if you want to try the fuller
of the stronger beers (klass F) then you have to go to the Vinmonopolet (often
"polet") or government monopoly alcohol shops, where you have to buy wine and spirits
These shops are now mostly quite friendly, with a supermarket-style layout. The days
of standing in line to order by number from a book are now almost gone.
There are still some areas with strict controls on beer (I remember when you could only buy beer
in the Ålesund area by pre-ordering it by the crate from a monopoly shop) and in most
areas the beer in the shops "sleeps" in the evenings and weekends except Saturday
Get one or two bottles of different types - there are at least 20 to choose from - and see which
ones you prefer. We think two of the best are from Mack (the world's most
northerly brewery, in
Tromsø) and Borg, but there are many others.
Pinnekjøtt is dried, salted lamb ribs ( a good way to preserve meat in the days before
freezers) which are soaked in water for several days, then steamed over birch wood
Ribbe is Pork ribs roasted so that the fatty surface layer is crunchy.
Other popular Christmas meals include Smalahove - half a sheeps head - and
Lutefisk - Cod preserved in caustic soda which is really
NOT my favorite. Turkey is also becoming fairly popular.