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Top 15 Places to Drink Beer in Norway

top places drink beer norway

The land of Norway appears to have been carved by the gods in bold strokes. Edges are sharp and well-defined; colors deep and rich. So too are its animate elements. Its water is among the purest in the world and its air the cleanest, leaving the senses slate-clean and open to the bounty of flavor offered from its land. Fresh juniper, cloud berry and heather offer endless flavor fjords for the country's makers to explore. Combined with its equally clean and rich culinary tradition born of land and sea, Norway offers a lifetime of sensory exploration.

The Beer Connoisseur spent a week traveling the country's Fjords Brewery Route, finding a vast​ breadth and depth of drinking experience among some of the country's most renowned brewers, cider makers and distillers. The journey broadened horizons of taste, cultural perspective and appreciation of life itself. It is recounted below, beginning with day one in Bergen, the country's second most populous city, and venturing throughout the western fjord region before ending back in the capital city of Oslo. 

What better way to shake the grog of transatlantic flight than gin? With sleep decidedly on the backburner, Bareksten Spirits is a quick 10-minute drive from the airport, and a perfect​ introduction to what Norway has to offer. Helmed by a veritable polymath, Stig Bareksten, this initially unassuming distillery produces some of the world’s finest gin, as its seemingly endless list of international gold medals attest. Bareksten’s success is a unique blend of knowledge and intuition, honed by a bold curiosity. Decisions that may seem reckless at first glance are inevitably revealed to be perfectly planned and executed, as if he knew it would work all along.

His gin is much the same. Unconcerned with the conventions of a relatively unchanged craft, Bareksten immerses himself in raw ingredients in order to find new takes on the old. His gins boast a vinous mouthfeel unlike any previously tasted, making for a drinking experience that allows you to focus on the bouquet of aroma and flavor that awaits. A bouquet of 26 botanicals, mostly locally harvested, reveal themselves one after another, each individual, yet culminating in a coordinated presentation. Individual, yet traditional; bold, yet likable; Bareksten’s gin is a perfect reflection of the man himself – a confluence of knowledge, intuition and passion.

brewhouse along Norway's fjords brewery route
Spend a week traveling Norway's Fjords Brewery Route, and you'll find a vast​ breadth and depth of drinking experience among some of the country's most renowned brewers, cider makers and distillers.

7 Fjell Bryggeri - Led by some of the country’s most renowned homebrewers, 7 Fjell has a youthful zeal and rebellious nature to it that has helped it become one of the country’s most popular breweries. Many beers are marketed with colorful labels and dialogue, often garnering viral attention, such as a Trump-related beer with some choice words. 

Named for the seven mountains that surround Bergen, 7 Fjell prioritizes eco-friendly brewing practices, in keeping with the national commitment to preserving Norway's heavenly land.

You’ll only find key kegs in use at 7 Fjell, a more eco-friendly version of America's favorite steel​ keg, which reduces the amount of chemicals required to clean a keg. This is a perfect example of the forward-thinking nature that is commonplace at the brewery, and throughout Norway.

As a bustling college town that also attracts its fair share of tourists, Bergen also has a lively bar and restaurant scene, which are roundly attuned to providing quality craft beer.

Vinyl Bar is a craft beer-focused bar built inside a recording studio, with hi-fi sound and attention to acoustics designed to make your listening and drinking experiences equally mellifluous. James Brown and brown ale are guaranteed to kick off an evening the right way.

From there, check out Røverdatter, a pub bearing the unique distinction of being totally crowdfunded. About 120 people pitched in to bring this craft bar to life, and almost all the work done here is done by those who helped kickstart it, save for a few taproom workers. I met Otto, a stakeholder who volunteers his time to serve on the board and to help design the tap list, and we shared a specially curated Norwegian plank, featuring an all-local selection of kveik beer, mead, cider aquavit and gin.

Restaurant Sky:skraper - A quick cable car jaunt up Ulriken will take you to Bergen’s highest​ peak, and to one of its most singular dining and drinking experiences. Restaurant Sky:skraper boasts incredible views of the city and surrounding environs, but in an alternate reality where if you tired of drinking in the views, you could simply direct your gaze towards the menu featuring an impressive array of 7 Fjell beers, expertly chef-paired with everything from incredible, creamy fish soup to divine charcuterie.

Pingvinen - Your last stop will take you back down the cable car and into the city, where you can​ enjoy a truly traditional meal at Pingvinen, renowned for having some of the best atmosphere – and food – in the country. Specialty dishes highlight the incredible freshness and purity of local fish and game, along with Norway’s diverse mélange of seasonal fruits and vegetables. Owner Atle Teige has designed a menu where you simply can’t go wrong, and servers will always be happy to lend a thoughtful beer pairing suggestion from the specially curated local tap list, which rotates regularly. Perhaps it’s Teige’s insistence on keeping the menus fresh and rotated, but it feels as if time stops when you enter this timeless establishment.

From Bergen you can take a scenic ferry ride to Floro, a charming town boasting one of the country’s best, and most venerable craft breweries, Kinn Brewery. What began as a teenaged homebrewing passion for founder Espen Lothe came full circle some decades later, when he quit his job as a science teacher to pursue the sweetest science of all – fermentation. The two-time Norwegian Homebrewer of the Year combined his lifelong passion for sensory exploration with a trained scientific vision and ended up at the delicate intersection of science and art. Kinn beers apply the highest quality regional ingredients to inspired, creative recipes, which draw on both history and imagination. They are then rigorously refined until they meet Lothe’s – and his tight-knit team’s – standards.

kinn brewery branded fermentation tank lid
Kinn Brewer​y began as a teenage homebrewing passion for founder Espen Lothe, which led to him quitting his job as a science teacher to pursue the sweetest science of all – fermentation.

You can enjoy Kinn beer in much of Norway, and even outside of it, but there is no better place to do so than at Vesle Kinn beer cafe, the home of the original brewpub. If you crave a meal with your Kinn beer, you might head to Bolette Restaurant or Bryggekanten, two fine dining​ establishments attached to hotels that serve inspired local cuisine. The salmon at

Bryggekanten is likely the freshest you’ll ever have, caught just 25 meters away, and expertly paired with Kinn’s brews and local ciders. It’s a small town, but the talent and quality that emanates from Floro’s esteemed beer and dining scene is a wonderful reflection of how much Norway has to offer. 

Floro is great anytime of the year, but if you’re lucky, you’ll come in June to enjoy the world’s longest herring table with locals (and plenty of beer). A table roughly 350 meters in length is laid out in the center of town, filled with delicious dishes and brought to life with live music and even more lively fellowship from people all around the world. Best of all – it’s free for everyone. Just one more reason that Floro is a must-see on the Fjords Brewery Route.

Once you’ve left Floro full and happy, you can continue ferrying your way towards Balestrand, a small town steeped in history. Settle in with a divine meal and drink at the historic Kviknes Hotel,​ the favorite retreat of none other than Kaiser Wilhelm II. A tour of the hotel will show you the very chair he was sitting in when he got news of the onset of World War I.

You can kick off your next morning with a visit to Ciderhuset (Cider House), where you’ll enjoy an incredibly in-depth tour of the history of cider, which may well change your understanding of its role in the current craft landscape. But even if you miss the tour, tasting the ciders and brandies from this family-run business will probably achieve the same result. Its 20-plus offerings are made from an organic fruit orchard with more than 100 varieties, brewed with decades of experience passed down generationally. 

When ready, catch another ferry to the quintessential fjord town of Flam. It’s small, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in charm… and beer. The beer in question comes from Ægir Bryggeri, where you’ll enjoy dozens of unique rotating brews in a striking, Viking-style longhouse. Crafted with as much painstaking detail as it puts into its beer, Aegir’s longhouse is the only one of its kind in the world, and it is hard to overstate its charm. Between the huge tap list, expertly curated menu featuring local fare (with the beer drinker in mind) and an incredible, cozy atmosphere, you’ll feel that you could spend days in this tiny town. Bonus points if you make it for Christmas, when you’ll find all of Flam congregated in Ægir to warm their hands and celebrate in one of the country’s first, and best, craft breweries.

Aegir Bryggeri viking-style exterior
Crafted with as much painstaking detail as it puts into its beer, Aegir Bryggeri's Viking-style longhouse is the only one of its kind in the world, and it is hard to overstate its charm.

Image Courtesy Thor Brodreskift

A scenic bus ride from Flam will take you to Voss, home of the incredibly pure water, where Voss Bryggeri uses it to great effect. You can thanks this brewery for reviving the now​-trending kveik style, at Tre Brør, located in the heart of Voss. Upstairs is a cafe, and downstairs is a hip beer bar with over 100 beers and ciders from around the world. Of course, you’ll probably want to get the local beer, considering it is not only some of the freshest you’ll get anywhere, but also responsible for bringing a whole new paradigm of flavor to the craft beer world. If you’re ever ready to leave, the train station is just down the road, where you can set off to another beautiful locale, or head back to Oslo on one of the world’s more scenic train rides through dazzling landscapes of rock and ice.

As the capital and the country’s most populated city by far, you could spend weeks in Oslo without running out of amazing places to drink. But considering that Norway is one of the cleanest, most naturally stunning places in the world with quality beer everywhere, it would be crazy not to go out and explore. Good beer awaits you, wherever you go.

Besides, Oslo is almost guaranteed to be your starting point or finish line. With that in mind, here are two options to kick off or cap off your trip. To get yourself in the perfect mindset for appreciating Norwegian beer, take a class at Ølakademiet, where Jorn Tore Persen and company will lead you on a sensory expedition through beer styles, with delicious samples from around the world. Or you could take a class on brewing on itself, but if you prefer to leave that to the professionals, head over to nearby Grunerløkka Brygghus, where head brewer Inga Greve’s stellar range of brews will round out your evening.

It’s hard to go wrong in Norway. The country reflects what happens when a society comes together to protect its land and provide its citizens with the tools they need to make dreams come true. For some that means making beer, and when you’ve got pure water, clean air and the uninhibited bounty of nature at your disposal, the possibilities are endless. 

All Images Courtesy Jim Dykstra, except where noted

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