Thursday, October 23, 2008


Olympen of Oslo

I suppose the name must have sounded pretentious for this working-class area of Oslo at the time. Olympen Mat og Vinhus (Olympen Food and Winehouse) was soon brought down from its olympic heights and became known as Lompa (the sausage wrap) on the locals' lips.

These days the lips can get to taste more than sausages in this historic beer hall. The building was raised in 1892 by the former Schous brewery. Prior to its latest refurbishment Olympen used to be one of the brownest cafés around, a place where nicotine stains would be your stamps of approval. There are nine big paintings on the walls with motives from this poor neighbourhood a century ago, and they all had to undergo extensive cleaning as part of the refurbishment.

Luckily, the bland Ringnes beers (Ringnes took over and closed the Schous brewery) have also been shown the door in the process. The bottled beer selection now reaches 25, and seems very well picked with craft brewers representing Norway and all the major beer nations. The five tap beers at the time of my first visit were all macro beers, but that is about to change. I was told that the Nøgne Ø and Smaa Vesen microbrewers would be there to install their taps just days later, to be followed by the Haandbryggeriet. Nøgne Ø will have a seasonal tap beer, starting with their porter. Sounds promising, if you ask me.

There is more than beer to Olympen. It may be one of the grandest cafés in the whole of Oslo (yes, maybe even grander than the unbeery Grand Café located on Oslo's version of Champs Elysée, Karl Johans gate) with its huge chandeliers and high ceiling. I thought I even spotted some craft beer interest from the young bar man, but maybe I was just hallucinating. Anyway, upstairs is a rather less beery, but no less stylish and cosmopolitan night club, Pigalle.

Welcoming and open the café remains until 1 am early in the week (including Sunday), stretching it to the regulatory maximum of 3 am later in the week. If you are looking for a drink later than that in the over-regulated country of Norway, you have better find a private "nachspiel" or have a well-stocked fridge at home.

Oh, and did I mention that my home is just a stone's throw away?

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Great to hear that Oslo has another decent beer bar, and better than the others by the sounds of things. And it's always nice to have this kind of facility on one's doorstep.

I've added it to
I need to get to these Scandinavian countries, preferably in the near future. The place sounds great. Better start saving up.

Is Oslo not too bad for beer prices? I have heard enjoying a pint, particularly a good one, rather hits you in the pocket.

BT: you been to Britain recently?
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