Norway has exceptionally tight controls on the sale of beer, with beers over 4.75% only being available through government owned liquor stores and beer between 3.75% and 4.75% within the strictest selling hours in Europe-before 8pm on a weekday and 6pm on a Saturday. This zeal for regulation also flowed across to the licensing of breweries (homebrewing was outlawed) and the consequence was a consolidation to a few big brewing beasts likeCarlsberg and Hansa.
A further consequence of the large bag of rules is that Norwegian beer is premium priced, so whilst very good is not always good value. The exception to this blatant generalization is the sublime beer coming from NogneØ (pronounced Nerg-ner Oh) established in 2002 by Gunnar Wiig who produces our most popular Norwegian brews.
Norway has arrived late to the microbrewery game, despite its long history of beer being brewed on every farm for that family's personal use. Strict regulations on when and where beer can be sold in conjunction with high taxes have somewhat stifled the potential growth of the beer industry, however a number of microbreweries (such as the imaginative and highly accomplished Nogne Ø) are succeeding in making a name for themselves.
Bayer - Once the most popular beer style in Norway, this dark lager inspired by Bavarian brews is generally slightly sweeter than its German equivalent.
Juleøl - Traditionally a strong, dark lager, these days breweries tend to brew both a weaker version of their Christmas beer for sale in the supermarkets, and a stronger version for bars.
Bokkøl - Yet another dark lager inspired by German traditional styles, this sweet, strong beer is the Norwegian take on a German Bock.