There are still discussions about alcohol policy in Norway, but the long term tendency is to move in a more liberal direction. One question high on the agenda right now is whether one should implement a European Union directive allowing alcohol commercials broadcast from one country with a target audience in another. I don’t really get too exited about this, as it will mean nothing for craft beer at all. Some more Heineken, Carlsberg and Bud commercials, perhaps, but I seriously doubt it will mean anything for the quality end of the spectrum. But, perhaps, this might lead to a more relaxed attitude to small scale producers being allowed to present their brews on their web pages?
On the other hand, we have had various ways of keeping the local communities dry. Some have had outright bans, some have allowed sales only in hotels. We have also had a number of local communities with beer monopoly stores. As of today, there is only one of 430 Norwegian local authorities that still has a beer monopoly store left – in Førde on the West Coast. The Vinmonopolet stores are spreading, too, but some of them are more like kiosks, offering little in the way of beer.
So. No revolutions. But a number of small steps. And we won’t know until later which ones were more significant.
What we know is that there is a thriving market developing. Mere beers than ever, imported and domestic. More beer bars and restaurants – all self respecting new places have a decent beer list. New breweries struggling to keep up with demand, despite the ban on commercials.
It’s been a good beer year in Norway. And there is every reason to belive 2011 will be even better.