Finland Has Just Released This Specialty Themed Beer

Tensions are high across Europe, and this is especially true in Finland. Though located on the Scandinavian peninsula, far north of the war raging in Ukraine, Finland is also Russia's next-door neighbor, and that still might be a little too close for comfort when it comes to the war in Ukraine, according to The Washington Post. Russia's invasion of Ukraine has shaken up the European continent in ways not seen since World War II, which is perhaps the reason that Finland and Sweden, formerly ensconced happily outside of NATO territory, put in their bids to join the alliance on May 18.

It's pretty clear where Russia stands on the Nordic countries' recent applications. Ahead of its bid for NATO membership, Moscow warned Finland that abandoning its neutrality and joining forces with the organization designed to balance the former Soviet Union's power would come with "consequences," according to Reuters. Finland's border with Russia is over 800 miles long, and the expansion of NATO was one of the reasons Russian President Vladimir Putin cited for invading Ukraine in the first place. 

Despite the risk, the majority of Finns wholeheartedly support the idea of NATO membership and, according to one Finnish brewery, submitting their application is cause for a celebration of the beer variety (via The Washington Post). And while you may have seen themed beers before  — remember Delaware's Joe Biden beer? — you definitely haven't seen anything like this.

A light beer for dark times

"We are under the bear's arm here, so to speak," Petteri Vanttinen, CEO of Olaf Brewing in Savonlinna, Finland, explained to Reuters. His brewery was not-so-coincidentally named for a nearby castle that was built in 1475 to protect the region, then part of the Swedish kingdom, from Novgorod invaders — predecessors of the country we know today as Russia. According to Vanttinen, while the Finnish may live in the shadow of the Russian empire, they've never been a particularly skittish bunch. "There is no cause for alarm," he says of Finland's NATO application. In fact, he claims, "We can have a beer now we've got this far in the process."

So, if you find yourself in the region, pick up a Finnish reindeer pizza and a six-pack of OTAN, a lager that has, as Vanttinen puts it, "a taste of security, with a hint of freedom," according to The Washington Post. The name of the brew is a pun of sorts, doubling as both the French acronym for NATO and the beginning of the expression "Otan olutta," Finnish for "I'll have a beer." 

The knight on the blue-and-white can, with NATO's compass symbol clearly printed on his chest plate, is a nod to Savonlinna's battleground history, and Finland's new allied ambitions, according to AP News. Despite the heavy context surrounding the beer's birth, it's nice to see something hopeful (and tasty) emerge during such dark days.