I’ve been planning to make a sort of beer guide to Oslo for some time. There are new places popping up, there are old pubs, restaurants and cafes that are starting to take beer seriously – and there are historical places with a beer connection.
To start off the series, I have picked a place that is a piece of beer history.
We had our share of prohibition in Norway as well, with strong alcohol being banned 1917-1927. Wine and beer was banned 1917-1923, but this had to be modified, particularly since Norwegian fish exports were partly linked to us buying French wine.
But even when things were slightly liberalised, there were strong voices for strict regulation of alcohol in all forms.
Grefsenkollen restaurant was built by Ringnes brewery in 1926 on a hill overlooking Oslo. At the time there were strict limitations on the sale of alcohol in central Oslo, and this was probably meant as an outlet and a promotional tool for the brewery. Grefsenkollen soon became a popular place for outdoor activities, and there was dancing in the evening.
Ringnes gave the establishment to the City of Oslo in the late thirties, with the condition that the only beer to be sold on the premises was to be – Ringnes.
The popularity has waxed and waned over the decades, but it is still occupying a magnificent spot. The restaurant recently opened after a major makeover. It is now open for lunch most days, while dinner is by appointment.
If you arrive by bike or on foot, the location at 367 meters above sea level means you have deserved a beer. You can drive up there, too, and there are buses on Sundays.
The lunch menu is upmarket – mussels, duck confit salad, seafood soup. The beer is Ringnes pils only, one could have wished for their traditional Bock and Bayer as well.