Welcome to hell a.k.a. Scandinavia

Most Scandinavian countries have only a few state owned liquor stores. Like Systembolaget in Sweden.

Most Scandinavian countries have only a few state owned liquor stores. Like Systembolaget in Sweden.

We like to start this post with a sincere apology to all the inhabitants and fans of Scandinavia. Yes, we know about the beautiful nature; the beautiful lakes, fjords, forests, bright skies and fresh air. The amazing myths, legends and fairy tales. As well as the heroic history of the fearless vikings and its current noble inhabitants of tall strong men and gorgeous girls. Yes, we know all that but still we won’t set foot on Scandinavian territory. Cause no matter if it’s Norway, Sweden or Finland; we hate your ridiculous alcohol policies.

Because that’s what these countries have in common. Once the home ground of the brave Normans, who had one other hobby next to pillaging: feasting and drinking. So what happened? Why did the viking warlords get replaced by pussy politicians who do everything they can to get their people off the booze? Cause this is of course the reason behind the high taxes on alcohol and other idiotic rules on booze. Don’t these politicians know they have more dark hours a year than the other European countries? And than to take this liquid pleasure away from them, this is clearly a case for Amnesty International. Join us on our tour and see the horror with your own eyes.

Let’s start with Sweden. Research tells us that the price of a domestic beer (0,5 liter) or an imported beer (0,33 liter) in a restaurant is about 50 Swedish crowns, which is 6 euros. In the stores they cost 1,80 euros. In both cases this is about three times the price of beer in other comparable Western European countries like Holland, Belgium or Germany. And if that isn’t bad enough, the real beer (more than 3,5 %) and other booze can only be bought in one of the 418 state owned liquor stores or systembolaget. The minimum age for those stores is 20 years and the stores have to conform to a lot more other stupid rules. Like all drinks have to be sold individually and no drink can be discriminated, which means all or none are offered cooled. In practice this means there is no cold beer in the stores.

So much for Sweden. Let’s check Iceland with its wonderful geysers. But what if you want to get a beer after a long day surrounded by hot water? Actually, this country has an interesting history when it comes to booze. The prohibition has been lifted not that long ago. Only since March 1 1989 drinks of over 2,25 % are allowed on the island. This date since then is celebrated as “Beer Day”. Half a liter of (local) beer is about 6 euro in a bar or restaurant. In stores however you pay 2,50 to 5 euro. The best you can do as a tourist is to visit the duty free stores when arriving at the airport. A liter bottle of vodka will cost you only 14 euros, now that’s more like it. The minimum drinking age in Iceland by the way is 20.

Back to the main land. Next stop: Norway. Here almost the same system as Sweden. Stuff over 4,75% is only sold in 280 state owned stores called Vinmonopolet. A beer in the stores will cost you around 3 euros, where a liter of vodka will cost you a crazy 50 euros. The alternative is frightening enough: half a liter of beer in a bar or restaurant will cost you about 8 euro. We could talk more about other horrifying details, but we know enough. Get us the hell out of here and let’s go to a civilized place.

Our last stop in Scandinavia is the country where they probably drink most in the region: Finland. For a long time the Fins were part of the Russian Empire and that shows when they started drinking. Unluckily for them, the prices are not equal to let’s say Saint Petersburg. Half a liter of domestic beer in a bar will cost you 5 euros. A bottle of the same size in stores is half the price. Like Sweden and Norway, Finland also has a store with the monopoly on liquor (everything over 4,7 %) that goes by the name Alko. Well we couldn’t get a clear price on stronger drinks like vodka, but we’re tired of looking around. Just believe us when we say it’s expensive too and we can leave this God forsaken place called Scandinavia.

So there we are. The end of our horrible journey. Man, can’t imagine actually doing this tour in real life. Although we must say that there are some brave souls in Scandinavia that don’t want to be controlled by their authorities and illegally make their own liquor. This resistance we respect very much for not blindly following their idiotic leaders. But anyway, I think you all drew the conclusion that Scandinavia, even with its amazing nature, is hell on earth. So next time you see someone of the countries above in yours, please invite him or her for a drink. These people have suffered enough.

Micky Bumbar


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33 thoughts on “Welcome to hell a.k.a. Scandinavia

  1. We have some terrible prices here in Canada, too, but you can’t get us to give up our beer. That’s one reason we like to have backyard barbecue parties; it’s much cheaper to drink on your own property here than in a bar! 🙂


    • Ah yeah I get that… In Holland it’s more or less the same. That’s why we usually get pretty drunk before arriving at any bar or club. The drinks there are just to seal the deal! 😉
      I actually never been to Canada or the US, but I believe you have more of a drinking culture than your southern neighbors right?


      • We seem to, yes. There are all kinds of clichés about Canadians like beer, and that’s because we do. Especially now that microbreweries are really getting up steam… you can get nearly 300 different kinds of beer at local beer stores. But we like other kinds of drinks as well. Many regions of the country have some really good wineries now; they win medals internationally. In my province there are new local distilleries and sake breweries emerging. And we’re fond of inventing new cocktails, especially in the urban areas. Québec, our French-speaking province, produces amazing ciders as well.

        Not every province has such high prices in the bars and pubs. It depends on how much a given province wants to tax the alcohol. But hey, that’s why it’s nice to invite friends over and drink at home! 🙂


      • Oh that’s pretty cool. I didn’t knew you made wine too… It is from Canadian grapes or imported? I am sorry for my ignorance, but when I picture Canada I don’t really sea the warm climate that provides good grapes.
        I always pictured you as a country of mostly beer and whiskey. It’s quite nice to hear about other kinds of booze too! 😀


      • Hey, no worries; Canada is kind of unobtrusive and keeps to itself, but we have a lot of hot weather in addition to the cold winters. We grow our own grapes – all different kinds of them. Our most commonly known wine country so far is in southern Ontario and British Columbia, where the summers are longer, but I think there will be other areas of the country growing wine grapes soon, as more varietals are cross-bred. The idea of Canada as a place where it’s winter for 11 months of the year is not right, but it makes us laugh so we encourage it. I’ve seen cars from the US up here in broiling August weather with downhill skis on the roof-rack, and it’s pretty funny, especially since much of our country is actually farther south then the US. Our worst national characteristic is we are too damn smug! 🙂


  2. The beer loving guys in my family would never survive. I prefer wine but I imagine that probably costs a lot too. Never mind the bourbon that I use to make my Manhatten…………..


    • Yeah actually wine is even more expensive since it’s all imported and the percentage is higher. I think in these countries the best thing is get some liters of pure alcohol from a chemistry lav or hospital and mix it with soda’s!


  3. It is quite a shame that prices are so high, but I figure perhaps the upside is that people find more creative ways to spend their time and money (I’m not knocking good establishments, but if that is all you ever do it says something!). I would encourage you perhaps to rethink your criteria for visiting new countries, and check out Scandinavia for what it has to offer. It doesn’t necessarily have to have what others expect or want it to to have its’ own unique worth 😉


    • Well for sure it has everything to make it an awesome place to visit… Great outdoors, intriguing history and enormous variety in folks tales and myths… So why spoil all this with ridiculous alcohol prices? These are the lands of the vikings, but it’s hard to picture that right now!


      • although the alcohol prices are ridiculously high, we still drink a lot of it. We just have more creative ways of getting it 😉 Us Norwegians usually go to Sweden or Denmark and buy as much as possible (or basically in any other country). This is kind of a sport in Norway- It gives us a high to successfully get pass the border with more alcohol than we are allowed to bring in to the country.


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  13. Cold and not much booze? Maybe Hell aint hot after all. Booze of all types can be bought from near nothing to ever how much your wallet can afford. In some areas we do have some silly “Blue Laws” like no booze on Sundays. Some states sell Beer, Wine, Liquor right beside the bread or milk 24/7/365. Hasn’t always been this way. The US has really loosened up drinking laws in some ways and tightened them in others. When I was 18 I could by Alcohol. Now its 21. Some states allow you to make your own, some don’t. Really just depends on what region you live in. The so called southern “Bible Belt” has the most “Blue Laws”. The region I live it is much more relaxed than 8 years ago when it was a dry area for decades. The revenue that’s pulled in now from alcohol sales is considerable. As just one example, the roads around here now are all pristine w/ new pavement and highly maintained. Many new Restraunts have came in due to Liquor by the drink sales. When I was young we had to go 3 countys away to even get beer or go out to a nice place to eat. Some times change is a good thing. Theres far fewer drinking and driving incidents now.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Now a days I can even ride my Horse to get booze, just not this time of year. Its currently hunting season. But in the summer months I frequently ride threw woods to get booze, make for a great ride, especially on the way back.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Even though it hasn’t been geographically located on the Scandinavian peninsula since the 16-century, Denmark is still part of Scandinavia and we don’t have any state owned liquor stores. I guess the idea is that we have the right to be unhealthy and that physical wellbeing isn’t always the same as mental wellbeing. Wellbeing welfare is a very big deal in Denmark.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Denmark is indeed the mothership, which is why it occasionally calls us home for drinking trips (going in December to Copenhagen. However, Iceland is not in Scandinavia in the geographical sense. That being said, our alcohol customs suck, but we are working on it. We also have a kind of systembolaget like Sweden, which we just call Ríkið, meaning ‘The State’. Appropriate, since they’re all state-owned and alcohol is heavily taxed. Also, you left out that even though beer was prohibited until 1989, strong liquor was actually allowed, which makes no sense at all and I’m sure has contributed a lot to our terrible drinking practices.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Officially alcohol was the devil’s drink. Unofficially, they produced some of the liquor that was sold in their stores. Very Soviet of them. We also liked things in aspic, so Russia is loke a brother from another mother.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Swede here. It’s expensive, sure, no argument possible about that. The upside of the alcohol monopoly is that they end up a large buyer, so I can easily, if expensively, buy stuff from all over the world. The Systembolaget stores have a large selection on the shelves, and if I want something not stocked? They can order it for me, and it won’t be any more expensive than it would normally be (well, if it’s beer, you have to order an entire case, can’t just order a single bottle). I think the ‘can order anything’ is legally required, part of the monopoly laws.

    And yes, I have traveled and seen what passes for alcohol stores in other countries. They easily beat ours on price, but not in range. London by itself has similar population to the entirety of Sweden, and yet? Nowhere I seen there has anything like the selection of stuff I see in the fourth largest city in Sweden (pop 250k).

    Washington? Same limited range. Berlin, Paris? No better, except for local stuff. And sometimes, not even local stuff. You’d think it would be easy to find more good whiskies in London than in Uppsala, what with them being produced in, so far, the same country? Nope. At least not without chasing the bottles down going to multiple stores.

    So I, personally, raise a glass to the hell that is Scandinavia! In this hell, you can drink almost anything you fancy (as long as you can afford it).

    Liked by 1 person

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