Our heart goes out to everyone who doesn’t live in Rogaland. We feel your pain, and we are here to help. So here’s our Beercation Guide to Stavanger!
NB! Since we published this, NMBCo True North Bar has moved from Sandnes to Stavanger.
You really should, you know. Stavanger is a wonderful place. Take it from me – I wasn’t born here but I came here as fast as I could.
In many ways Stavanger is your typical small Norwegian coastal village – with its tiny, white wooden houses, a lively harbour, the refreshing smell of the ocean, the sound of seagulls (they’re all named Steven) and the unpredictable weather. But because of the oil industry it is also one of the most diverse and international cities in Norway – and despite being the forth largest city in Norway, its compact city center makes it perfect for a weekend trip. You can get here by plane directly from a great number of European cities, or you can transit via e.g. London, Amsterdam, Copenhagen or Oslo. From the airport, you’re just 15 minutes away from the city. Just hop on a bus, Gus!
Book yourself into a centrally located hotel, and when you get there, just check in, find your room, drop your bags on the floor and head back out. Stavanger is at your feet, and you are its king. Or queen. Whatever you prefer. You are our guest and we are quite liberal.
It’s easy. You won’t need to rent a car. We will tell you were to go, how to get there and what to do once there. You don’t have to learn Norwegian first, we all speak fluent English. If you want to learn just one word, then let it be ØL – Norwegian for beer.
There’s just one caveat – Sundays are kind of dead, so to get the most bang for your buck, we recommend you fly in on a Thursday.
Let your first port of call be Cardinal. If you arrive on a Thursday evening and you want to chill and hit just one place, this is where you should go. It’s centrally located, near the harbour, tucked into a narrow pedestrian street with houses so crooked and bent it’s a like a drunken troll has used them for support. Take a look at the houses across the street as you are entering Cardinal. Trust us, you don’t want to see this for the first time as you’re leaving and wonder «Shit, did I really drink this much?»
Cardinal is the original Stavanger craft beer pub – arguably the best in Norway – and they have been rated top 50 globally on RateBeer for the past 7 years. It has the look and feel of a traditional British pub, but with a beer selection few can match. You’ll be in good hands here, the staff are all very knowledgeable.
This will sound mad, but we’re suggesting you leave Stavanger and head to its sister city Sandnes. Take the train. It follows the fjord past Hillevåg where Stavanger’s first brewery was located, and takes you to Sandnes in no time. There are two great reasons for going to Sandnes, and they are both pubs.
Start at the NMBCo True North Bar, they open at 12 on Fridays. Weird name, right? Strict laws against advertisement – or anything resembling advertisement – of alcohol prevents the owners from telling you that this is a Northern Monk Brewing Company bar. Yes, the Leeds Brewery has a Norwegian outpost – a bar owned by their Norwegian distributors. Why drink Leeds beer in Norway, you say. Sure. Skip them if you like, and sample some local beauties instead.
Next up, head to Melkebaren – literally The Milk Bar. Not that they serve milk. Or perhaps they do, but no one bothers ordering any because this place has 31 beers on tap and an extensive list of bottled beers. All in all, there’s more than 300 beers to choose from.
When it’s time to head back to Stavanger, just stumble back to the station and hop on the first train going north. We suggest you spend the afternoon in Stavanger’s eastern, working class neighbourhood.
Start at Fermenten. You can get here by bus – take the no 1 or 4 bus from Stavanger central bus station to Lervigtunet – alternatively take a taxi. Fermenten is a temple dedicated to everything fermented – fermented vegetables, kombutcha, bread, coffee, cheese and beer is all produced on site – and it is the home of Yeastside Brewing Company. There’s food to eat in or take out, but the beers have to be drunk on the premises. Their taps are entirely devoted to Stavanger breweries, and there are always Yeastside beers available – in fact this is one of the very few places where they can be had. If you are approached by an Australian, don’t be alarmed. It’s only Craig, the brewer. Ask him for a tour of the brewery.
Next, a short walk towards the fjord will take you to ØST. The word means east, we’re in eastern Stavanger after all, but it’s also an abbreviation: Øl, Svette, Tårer, or Beer, Sweat, Tears.
You are now on historic grounds. This used to be a brewery. It was built in 1899 and was in operation until 1974. It is also the home of world renowned beer festival What’s Brewing. ØST is not a large place, but it has an impressive selection of local and imported beers. Have a look at the toilet floor where treasures are buried. If you’re feeling peckish, there’s a street food joint just round the corner, ForTou, which makes some killer bahn mi and will deliver to your table in ØST.
Saturday is party time, and there’s only one place to be: Fargegata, literally The Colour Street, or Øvre Holmegate, which is its actual name. You’ll understand why everyone calls it Fargegata once you are there. This short street in the middle of Stavanger is packed with unique places with one thing in common: they do amazing beers. And they all do «utepils» – outdoor drinking – a favorite Norwegian pastime, more often indulged in despite the weather than because of it.
Start in the western end of the street and work your way eastwards. Don’t worry if it’s raining, it’s only a few steps between each of the five bars.
På Kornet is your starting point. This gastro pub, which opens at 12 on Saturdays, is located in the basement of an old bank building. There are 20 beers on tap to choose from, many of which are local, and a decent bottle selection as well. Try the cheese and charcuterie board if you’re only after a snack.
If you want a burger, turn left as you leave På Kornet, and you’ll see The Shack.
Next up is Gulating Pub. The guys behind this pub also owns a bottle shop in town: Gulating Ølutsalg. Great if you want to bring some suds home. Just remember that anything above 4.7% ABV can only be bought at the Vinmonopolet stores, but don’t worry, there are several of those in town. At Gulating Pub, there are 31 rotating tap lines, including some beers that you will be hard pressed to find elsewhere. It’s a very Untappd friendly place!
Next up is Cirkus, and now you’re in Fargegata proper. Perhaps keep those shades on? Try their hot dog. There are plenty of beers to flush it down with. The decor may be eclectic, but the place is always buzzing.
Cross the street on a diagonal, and you are in Hanekam. It opens from 10 as a cafe and turns into a lively coctail bar in the evening.
End the night at Bøker og Børst, or even better, turn back around and do the whole thing over again in the opposite order. Spend some time at B&B first though – it was voted ‘Best Venue in Stavanger and Sandnes’ in 2016. On tap are 7 permanent ‘classics’ and 9 rotating craft beers.
If you have time for it, we suggest a brunch. Head to Renaa Matbaren. This is the reasonably priced version of RE:NAA, a Michelin star fine dining restaurant that has always been a friend to the local breweries. They’ve always got local beers on the menu and they serve up some great grub. Consider booking ahead.
Have we not sold it to you yet? Are you not convinced? Not yet in an alcoholiday mood? Well, we haven’t even mentioned Lervig yet. Yes, Stavanger is the home of Lervig and nowhere else on this planet can you find a broader selection, or fresher versions, of their beers. They do tours, but book ahead. Don’t worry too much if you are unable to book a tour, ØST and På Kornet have both been started by their head brewer Mike (among others), and have a bunch of their beers to choose from. As do most other bars and pubs in and around Stavanger.
If you wanna drop by any of the other craft breweries, send them an email a few days in advance and they may be able to help you out. You’ll find their contact details via links on this page.
So, what are you waiting for? Welcome to Stavanger, your beer is waiting for you.
PS – There’s a ton of stuff you can do that doesn’t involve beer, so if you need something spectacular to convince your significant other that Stavanger is the place to visit, then take a look at this.