Explaining the cost of Oslo through beer

By Jessie Shiflett

Anyone deciding to visit Oslo, Norway, will quickly realize one thing — nothing in this city is cheap, especially the beer. If you were to convert $10 US to NOK (Norwegian Krone) you would currently get 81.02 NOK. While that may sound great, you would be hard-pressed to find a price for a pilsner on tap (similar to a Budweiser) for less than 85 NOK.

Domestric Norwegian brews like Frydenlund Pilsner, and “foreign” beers like Brooklyn Lager, are readily available in Oslo bars, but at a steep price. Photo by Jessie Shiflett
Domestric Norwegian brews like Frydenlund Pilsner, and “foreign” beers like Brooklyn Lager, are readily available in Oslo bars, but at a steep price. Photo by Jessie Shiflett

This means if you want a pint in Oslo you’ll need at least $10.51 US. To really help put this in perspective, you can buy a 30-pack of Budweiser in the United States for roughly the same price as two beers at nearly any bar here in Oslo. While this isn’t as much as a Big Mac meal from McDonald’s (which costs roughly 108 NOK or $13.41 US). This means a meal at McDonald’s costs about the same as 24 Budweisers.

You can buy beer in Norwegian supermarkets and grocery stores — before 8 p.m. on weekdays and 6 p.m. on Saturday — it has to have an alcohol content of 4.7 percent or less. If you’re looking for a stronger beer, then you have to go to a bar.

These strict laws may seem odd for those of us from America, but they are supported by a Norwegian population that a century ago twice voted overwhelmingly (roughly 3-1, then 4-1) to support prohibition. By substituting high taxes for direct prohibition, the government here allows people to access alcohol, but discourages heavy drinking by making it so expensive.

(Text and photos by Jessie Shifflett.)