By Shannon Kenoe
On a warm Oslo Saturday afternoon, American pop-music drifted from speakers as guests filed into a dimly-lit room lined on three sides with beer on tap. Behind each counter brewery reps bustled around, setting taps and taste testing the products showcased that day.
Standing on the left side of the hall, wearing a shirt emblazoned with the brewery name, was Magnus Holt of Schousskjelleren microbrewery in Oslo. He beamed with pride as he introduced patrons to Schousskjelleren’s whimsically-named handcrafted beers, like the Speedy Recovery Imperial Brown Ale or the Flight of the Galaxy IPA.
Grünerløkka Brygghus hosted the 2018 edition of Oslo’s annual Mikrobryggfest at their brewery in Københavngata on June 8 and 9, allowing residents and tourists alike to sample Oslo’s local brews.
Beer enthusiasts lined up to taste beers produced by the 17 microbreweries on hand to showcase their products. Some reflected on how these microbreweries have started forming a greater sense of community as they create local products. The pubs that are opened alongside the microbreweries showcase the locally produced products in an atmosphere locals can’t ignore.
The cost of a ticket (200 NOK or $25 U.S.) entitled the bearer to a glass and four drink chips, which presented drinkers with a tough choice since there were 70-plus beers on tap. In addition to the basic choice of light or dark beer, the hundreds of guests at the two-day festival even had the opportunity to sample glittery beer. Making a choice generally boiled down to personal preference – there were sours, blondes, pilsners, IPAs and more. Some chose a familiar brewery, while others took a chance based on the beer’s name, description or a friend’s recommendation.
Before the live music began, beer enthusiasts roamed the courtyard and walked through large open doors to check out the brewhouse. Homemade sausage sizzled in a large cast iron pan, spreading a mouth-watering aroma. The laughter of animated patrons filled the air as they gathered around picnic tables to taste and compare their glasses of beer.
In recent years Norway has reflected the international trend to promote local products, according to the Norwegian Ministry of Agriculture’s Siem Sigurd. From 2012 to 2017, 90 new microbreweries were established in Norway. Although Norway’s crop production is limited by its very short growing season, wheat, barley, rye, and oats are all grown in western Norway, enabling breweries to ensure the majority of their products use Norwegian-grown ingredients.
The push to “buy local” has fueled the microbrewery industry, and benefits the breweries by decreasing governmental fees. With their small size, the microbreweries benefit from their smaller amount of production with discounted fees added to their product. The Norwegian Ministry of Agriculture’s website notes, “Norwegian consumers increasingly demand Norwegian products,” creating an increased focus on local cuisine and specialties. This drive has created greater diversity and has driven the development of local economies.