Cruising for Craft Beer in Kristiansand

Kristiansand is Norway’s fifth largest town and a popular cruise port when heading north to the Fjords or Northern Lights or heading east to the Baltic.  Like so many Norwegian towns these days, it has also become a craft beer hot-spot (warm really but anything’s better than nothing in the hunt for good beer).

My last visit was a surprise one.  In November 2017, on P&O Aurora, heading to (hopefully) see the Northern Lights, most passengers were disappointed to be informed by the Captain that poor weather made it less safe to head north and we would be seeking safe-haven in Kristiansand in the south rather than Åndalsnes in the Fjords.

Much delight from me as I knew the beer offering in Kristiansand was far superior to sleepy Åndalsnes even though we would be berthing on a Sunday and opening hours would be much restricted.

Firstly the touristy stuff : a leg-stretching walk along the waterfront taking in the fresh, clean but cold, crisp air.  Then head into the town and a walk around Posebyen, a large historic settlement of wooden houses followed by, if time affords, a climb up towards Baneheia Forest, a delightful area of forests, lakes and walking paths – an unmissable peaceful haven just a few minutes walk to the north of the city.

Later in the day as you think about refreshment you will be keen to find a beer and luckily there are a couple of places I can recommend.

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There are a few bars in Kristiansand where you can find craft beer, particularly from local Norwegian breweries.

Patricks Pub & Restaurant

Patrick’s is in the main town at 10 Markens gate and my guess is that it was once a faux Irish bar given its name and the fact the interior is pretty pubby, all shiny with plenty of dark wood.  It now prides itself on its rotating range of craft beers, mainly Norwegian, some very local, a sprinkling of UK, German and Belgian.  The 18 taps are all described on the large TV screen on the wall.  This all includes brewery, style, price and also each beer’s rating on Untappd – all pretty helpful if you need some guidance.  The fridges are also stuffed full and the bottle list is a great read.  I suggest you linger and take your time to make a considered choice – the staff are pretty knowledgable and helpful too.  Not cheap, but beer in Norway is always premium priced – about NOK100-130 for a glass (a half litre or 33cl depending usually on strength).

You can get beers from the local Christianssand brewery here but I was a bit confused regarding which beers are brewed in the microbrewery in Kristiansand and which are brewed in the more commercial out-of-town facility.  To get word from the horses mouth so-to-speak I suggest a walk around the corner to the brewpub at 9 Tollbodgata.

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Christianssand Brygghus

I did not get a chance to visit here as no Sunday opening.  However, I’m sure you’ll be able to get the low-down on which beers are brewed on the premises and which are brewed out of town.

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Kombinat bar and restaurant

The Kombinat is at 8 Dronningens gate and another bar that I did not really get a chance to visit as they only opened shortly before the ship was about to set sail for Tromso.

They have only recently reopened following a refit where they removed a beautiful rack of about 20 traditional handpumps.  The latest offering is a bank of 12 craft beer taps (pictured above) and although it is now more foody than it was previously they are more than happy to serve you if you simply want a beer or two.

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Finally, Vinmonopolet

Vinmonopolet is the Government run off-licence and the most centrally located one in Kristiansand is situated at Lillemarkens Shopping on Gyldenløves gate.  However, the recent changes to the P&O policy on bringing aboard your own beer makes this information a bit redundant for the beer loving cruiser – I’ll expand on this in the next post.

See the next stop Cruising for Craft Beer in Tromsø

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Golden Rules for the Beer Hunting Cruiser (2)

GOLDEN RULE #2

DO NOT MISS THE SHIP

OK, it’s obvious and should go without saying.  A cruise ship will not wait for you and if you fail to get back onboard by the nominated time the ship sails without you and you will be required to make your own way to the next port stop.

For most this is pretty obvious, and a huge reason why folk take the ship’s organised excursions as they guarantee to get you back to the ship before it sails.

The point I really make is to be sure you are thinking about this when you are in the beer zone of a day’s sightseeing.  The beery bit for me is usually at the end of hours of trudging around the city’s main sights, the odd museum and standing outside every trashy gift shop on offer.  When you reach the pub an hour or two before the sailaway time, it is very easy to get settled in, ignore the passage of time and lose your bearings when it is time to leave.

A few tricks :

Always make sure you know the directions and how long it will take to get back to the ship.

The featured photo above is of the Kombinat bar/restaurant, 8 Dronningensgate, Kristiansand in South Norway (of which more in future posts).

You can see the blue funnel of P&O Aurora at the end of the street, it’s a stone throw away so an ideal spot for a beer before the ship sails.  However, all is not what it seems.  The ship is the other side of the water.  It is not the 5 minute walk that it might appear.  On my last visit it took me about 15-20 minutes to leg-it back and although I was about 10 minutes inside the curfew, the ship’s staff were calling my name over the loudspeakers to ask whether I had returned without the computer checking off my name.  My wife, who had returned to the ship earlier, was NOT impressed.  It was a close call and a valuable lesson.

Always add  at least 20 minutes extra time to that which you guess it will take to return – then add another 10.

If you take a wrong turning it is easy to become disorientated especially when refreshed.  Last year, I thought I was going to be stuck in Tórshavn, Faroe Isles, Old Town waving goodbye to the ship as I kept losing my way, going round in circles, beer affecting my inner GPS.  Luckily I had left plenty of time that afternoon.

Always drink one beer at a time.  

We (middle aged ) Brits can be a cautious bunch, particularly nervous about using our bank cards to buy simple things like a pint of beer.  As such, in countries where I do not carry currency like Norway, I have a habit of buying a couple at a time so I only have to use the card once.  If you leave it late, have to slug back that extra glass of barley wine or imperial russian stout, it will be swilling around your belly if you have to stride out a bit quicker to get to the ship.

Never take that “one for the road”  

When you are thoroughly enjoying the beer, it is easy to want to sneak in one final one before heading to the ship.  Don’t !  There’s plenty of beer on the ship, you don’t want to be pickled in time for dinner and the 15-20 minutes extra taken to knock back that last one will mean your leisurely stroll back to the ship becomes an energetic canter – any enjoyment is thus lost.

So, there you are.  I don’t want to teach grandmothers to suck eggs.  It’s obvious, don’t miss the ship.   Enjoy a beer or two responsibly, make sure you know the way back to the ship and don’t, for any reason, linger too long – however good the pub or beer may be.

See also Golden Rule #1

Cheers !

Golden Rules for the Beer Hunting Cruiser

GOLDEN RULE #1

CHECK THE OPENING HOURS

One of my pre-cruise tasks is doing enough research to beer up my holiday but my absolute failing is taking insufficient attention to details such as opening hours.

I’m all good at using Google etc to help me find new places, I note addresses and check out locations to find the best beer spots either close to tourist attractions or in the shadow of the port for a late beer and a quick getaway (Golden Rule #2).

However, I have learnt my lesson all around Europe marching off to find a new bar with some great beer only to find that I failed to make sufficient notes on the opening times and I find that I am waiting outside for the bar to open or worse still that the bar only opens long after the ship sails.

It seems that I am in good company though.  In the latest P&O Moments magazine there is a double page spread celebrating Bruges and its attractions during the countdown to Christmas.  The pub they have chosen to use to illustrate the piece is the t Brugs Beertje, translated as the Little Bruges Bear.  It is a good pub to illustrate a piece on Bruges as anyone who has ever been there would describe it as one of the World’s greatest bars.

However, it is a very poor pub to use to illustrate a cruise.  The pub does not open until 4pm – long, long after any cruise travellers have had to head back towards Zeebrugge (where the cruise ships dock) for sailaway and pre-dinner drinks.

So, take heed of Golden Rule #1, check out opening times afore ye set foot ashore, it will make for a more enjoyable beery time.

Perhaps it is described as one of the World’s greatest bars as it only open after all of the day-trippers leave the city.  That’s for you to decide.

See also Golden Rule #2