Beer in Finland
Finland has a long history of beer dating back to the Middle Ages. The oldest still-existing commercial brewery in Finland and Nordic countries is Sinebrychoff, founded in 1819. "Suomalaisen oluen päivä", or the Finnish Beer Day is celebrated on the 13th of October to commemorate the founding of Oy Sinebrychoff Ab and the birth of Finnish beer. The largest Finnish brewers are Hartwall, Olvi and Sinebrychoff. Most of the beers brewed in Finland are pale lagers. Finland's standing is 9th in per capita consumption of beer. Finnish people consume a total of 440 ML of beer annually and the trend is increasing by 11.7 633 mL bottles year-on-year per capita.
Sahti is a traditional Finnish beer, which contains some oats, has a distinct banana flavor, and was traditionally made at home. It was often praised in the writings of the beer connoisseur Michael Jackson. Although less common, it is still served at weddings and other special occasions.
Finnish beer tax-classes
Beer was classified into tax classes by law in Finland until the year 1995 when Finland joined the European Union. After joining EU the law was reformed so that the tax is set directly by the percentage of alcohol by volume contained in the product: with 0.5-2.8% beers €0.02/cl of alcohol, with beers over 2.8% €0.0214/cl. However, the old classifications are still voluntarily used widely and the old tax classes are still often marked on the products and advertisements.
|percentage by volume||sold in restaurants||sold in stores||notes|
|I beer||0.0% - 2.8%||yes||yes||doesn't require a license|
|II beer||2.8% – 3.7%||yes||yes||not usually used in Finland, however, it is used in Sweden|
|III beer||3.7% - 4.7%||yes||yes||known as "keskiolut", "kolmosolut" or "kolmonen", the most popular class of beer in Finland|
|IVA beer||4.8% - 5.2%||yes ("A" license)||no||steep taxation before the 1995 reform, usually sold as Export beers|
|IVB beer||5.2% - 8.0%||yes ("A" license)||no||steep taxation before the 1995 reform, usually sold as Export beers|
Beer with an alcohol content of 4.8% or higher (IVA or IVB beer) may only be sold in state-owned Alko liquor stores or bars and restaurants with the appropriate ("A" rather than "C") license. It is also sold in tax free shops on Baltic Sea cruiseferries. Because of tax regulations, the tax free shops may only be open when the ships are either on international waters or visiting Åland (which has special exempt status in the EU).
Finnish beer market
Finland's beer market has been described as international rather than local. The market leader is Denmark's Carlsberg Group, owner of the Finnish brewery Sinebrychoff, with a market share of 46.9%. Its beer brands include Koff and Karhu. Carlsberg is followed by Heineken International, which controls - through its Hartwall brewery - a 29.5% share of the national market and produces the Lapin Kulta and Karjala brands. Olvi is the largest Finnish-owned brewery, holding approximately a further 20% of the Finnish market. The rest of the Finnish breweries are smallish regionals or microbreweries, all founded post-1985.
Prohibition started in Finland on 1 June 1919 and lasted nearly 13 years, during which the production, import, sales, transportation and storage of alcohol products was only allowed for medicinal, scientific, and technical purposes. A referendum on the continuation of prohibition was held starting on the 29th and closing on the 30th of December 1931. The referendum closed with a 70% majority against the law and resulted in the end of prohibition on the 5th of April 1932 at 10:00 when the new state-owned alcohol retail stores opened their doors to customers.
Finland and Estonia brew traditional juniper beers. In Finland, this is known as Sahti and in Estonia it is called Koduõlu ("home beer"). This beer is made from rye or oat malts that are filtered through straw and juniper twigs. According to beerhunter Michael Jackson, it is by far the oldest continuous living tradition of beer making, representing nothing less than a direct link with Babylonian beer-making methods.
- Auran panimo
- Bock (brewery)
- C. A. Robsahmin Portteripanimo (sold in 1895)
- Finlandia Sahti
- Hartwall (Karjala)
- Lapin Kulta (owned by Hartwall)
- Keudan panimo
- Kotkan Höyrypanimo
- Laitilan Wirvoitusjuomatehdas (Kukko)
- Lammin Sahti
- Mallaskoski (Kuohu, Häjy, Komia, Makia)
- Malmgårdin Panimo
- Nokian Panimo (Keisari, Året Runt)
- Olvi (Olvi, Sandels)
- Palvasalmi (bankrupt)
- Rekolan Panimo (Amerikan Serkku, Metsän Henki, Munkintie)
- Saimaan Olut (Saimaa), Marsalkka, Rokrammi, Luostari
- Sinebrychoff (Karhu, Koff)
- Porin panimo (owned by Sinebrychoff)
- Stadin Panimo
- Suomenlinnan Panimo
- Vakka-Suomen Panimo
- Ålands Bryggeri (Stallhagen)
Finnish brewery restaurants
- Hollolan Hirvi
- Panimoravintola Beer Hunter's
- Panimoravintola Bruuveri
- Panimoravintola Huvila
- Panimoravintola Koulu
- Panimoravintola Plevna
- Perho (restaurant)
- Ravintola Herman (no longer brewing)
- Teerenpeli Panimo
Most important Finnish beers
Annual Finnish beer events
- Helsinki Beer Festival (held since 1997)
- Isojano-tapahtuma (held since 1993)
- Olutfestivaalit (held since 1990)
- Sahdinvalmistuksen SM-kisat (Finnish sahti brewing championships, held since 1992)
- Suomalaiset sahtipäivät (held since 1995)
- Suuret oluet – pienet panimot (held since 2003)