By Anne Kauranen
HELSINKI (Reuters) – A small Finnish brewery a few dozen miles from the Russian border has launched a new beer to toast its country’s bid to join the NATO military alliance.
The lager is called Otan olutta – the first word is a play on the French variation of the initials of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
The full name also means “I’ll have some beer” in Finnish.
The brew tasted “safe with a hint of freedom,” Petteri Vanttinen, managing director of family-owned Olaf Brewing, told Reuters.
Finland and Sweden on Wednesday applied to join NATO, a move prompted by concern over Russia’s invasion of another neighbour, Ukraine.
Moscow initially threatened unspecified reprisals. “We’re under the arm of the bear here, so to speak,” Vanttinen said at the brewery in Savonlinna, eastern Finland.
But no one was panicking, he added. “We can have a beer now that we’ve gotten to this stage of the process. I think that pretty much reflects the Finnish mentality that we’re staying calm. There’s no need for alarm.”
The blue and white cans match the NATO color scheme and show a knight holding a mug of foaming beer, with the alliance logo stamped on his armour.
The brewery is named after nearby St. Olaf’s Castle, a medieval stone fortress founded in 1475 to defend Finland, then a hinterland of the Swedish kingdom, from invaders from the Novgorod republic, a predecessor of modern Russia. .
(Reporting by Anne Kauranen; Editing by Andrew Heavens)