image There comes a point when you’re in another country where you cross the line from tourist to visitor.

For the last week I’ve been in full tourist mode, snapping pictures of everything, but today the newness wore off and I’ve found myself used to new brands and previously unfamiliar speech.  No, I have not spontaneously learned Finnish, but I am now used to the fact that the entire bathroom is in fact a shower, the electrical sockets look huge and bizarre, and the light switches appear to have come from the set of the original Star Trek series.

I’ve explored my neighborhood, know where all the restaurants and markets are, and have dealt with the disappointment of the American dollar being worth about only half a Euro.

So now here I sit in my hotel room in Helsinki about to open this completely unknown beer.  I’m assuming from the textured black of the can that it’s a dark beer.  It looks strong — the label features, after all, the head of an angry looking bear.  And judging by the sheer amount of these on the shelves, this beer must be popular here.  Looking at the label and the web site,, it looks to be a locally brewed beer.

Popping the top, it smells yeasty.  Other than that, I get a hint of hops.  That’s it.

I pour a bit into a glass to get a look at it.  It’s not dark, but it’s not pale either.  This beer is a beautiful rich deep amber.

It’s a little after midnight, and down on the streets drunken Fins are shouting and making loud hooting noises.  Against this backdrop, I tip the can against my lips and take a long sip.

Not bad.  The taste is subtle.  It’s mild but pleasing, with an oatmeal quality and sharp hoppy overtones.  Nothing to write home about (even though that’s exactly what I’m doing right now) but it’s drinkable.  I wouldn’t go out of my way to import it.

It’s okay, and … well, for a common beer, somewhat groovy.

The funny thing is, they actually import Budweiser here.  It doesn’t have a strong presence but it’s there on the shelves, big cans of it.  No one here I’ve talked to likes it, so who knows who they’re stocking for?  Expatriate Americans, maybe?  What a laugh.

This common Kahhu III kicks Budweiser buttocks all the way to the states and back. 

Of course, I could say the same about stale soda water.

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