Airports. You know the feeling. Your plane is delayed, and there is nothing to do. The salami pizza has so little topping it could be labeled suitable for vegetarians. There is a choice of the local pale lager and Carlsberg at twice the price you pay downtown.
Sure, there are exceptions. The brewpub at Munich airport. A glass of Altbier in Düsseldorf. The Weatherspoons bars in a number of UK Airports. But generally? Blah.
Part of the reason is that the airport owners tend to give one huge contract to a single restaurant entrepreneur, creating a monopoly on food and beverages. No competition, no incentives to offer a broad choice. The entrepreneur then goes to a few breweries, getting a quote on the delivery of a certain number of hectoliters of bland lager per week. And they, appropriately, get what they pay for.
But it seems to me to be a tipping point. There is a rather large Norwegian company running restaurants and bars both in airports and in city centers. You never see it, as it hides behind a number of brand names, or, as they prefer to call it, concepts. The market is the starting point and the concepts are the consequence is their slogan, which does not sound much better in Norwegian.
Their concepts vary, from mundane sandwich bars in railway stations and airports to places where the company behind them is invisible like fru Hagen or Beach Club in Oslo. The parent company even has the Norwegian Burger King franchise.
But back to the airports. Looks like things have come to a tipping point. And I realize that there will never be a time for the small family run cafe or pub in Norwegian airports. The best we could ever hope for, then, is that craft beer finds it way into a concept. Which it has.
The following is from a trade site, probably quoted verbatim from a press release, describing their new Brygghuset (Brewhouse) concept.
Brygghuset is a new, targeted pub concept. This is the down to earth cozy pub where everyone feel at home – on a business trip, with your mates or traveling with your girl friends. Brygghuset specializes in good beer. You will find a particularly broad selection of good Norwegian local “hand breweries”, but also classical national and international varieties.
The first pub featuring this concept will open in Bodø airport. Presumably to be followed by others.
Now, if they could get some decent beers into their chain of pizza restaurants, too. But I doubt Carlsberg would like that.