Staying in Norway on a budget – Alcohol

Buying alcohol (and tobacco) in Norway can be quite expensive, especially when you don’t have a Norwegian salary. Drinks with low alcohol content such as beer and cider can be bought in the grocery store, but not cheaply. Stronger drinks are sold in Vinmonopolet (the wine monopoly) which has a nice selection, but the prices are high. I have here tried to list up some of your best alternatives for including alcohol on a low budget.

Bring from abroad or buy in the tax-free

Whenever you are abroad, you should bring your quota of alcohol with you into Norway. The Norwegians have an expression called “Harrytur” which means to cross the borders just to buy alcohol (and other cheap stuff). The most popular destinations for these trips are Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Poland and Russia depending on your location. Ferries has often cheap tickets in the middle of the week and often advertise with day trips, sometimes even for free. Another option is to take a low-cost airline to a cheaper country (such as Poland) and spend some time there shopping. If you have friends coming from abroad, ask them to bring their quota with them.

The Norwegian Custom service has made an app that helps you calculate how much alcohol and tobacco you can bring in to the country tax-free, or how much you will pay in extra taxes when bringing in alcohol. This app is a must when bringing alcohol from abroad.

Make your own alcohol

Instead of buying alcohol you can make it yourself! It is very popular in Norway to brew your own beer there is a lot of places you can buy your equipment and ingredients. If you don’t want to invest in equipment you can try a brewing kit, which has all the ingredients mixed and you only need to mix it with water, sugar and let it ferment. The cheapest kits you can buy at Europris, and they taste normally quite horrible. There are other kits bought on web pages such as Ølbrygging.no that costs a little bit more than Europris but can give you a quite decent taste for the money. Some people have also tried making their own wine from kits, but out of experience they taste quite bad. One way of improving this is to make “gløgg” or “glüh wein” which is wine mixed with spices and heated up.

An easier solution would be to join a brewing club. For those that are students, there are brewing clubs on almost all the universities. This allows you also to connect and socialise and share knowledge about brewing. As an alternative to this is to befriend a member of a beer brewing club or a microbrewery. These people would often give away free or cheap beer in return for help cleaning bottles or company during the brewing process.

Beer tasting nights at the local brewery

The local breweries often arrange beer tasting nights, where you can try out their goods and get drunk. This is commonly arranged for student clubs or for companies, but can also be attended as a private person.

In the very end, I will give you one warning: Be careful with moonshine! Moonshine (brennevin in Norwegian) is illegally distilled alcohol and is common to find in private parties in some areas of Norway. If it is distilled incorrectly it can contain methanol which can lead to blindness or death. Drink at your own risk.

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