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Stronger beer in shops next week

Several new rules regarding the sale of alcohol will come into effect in Finland on 1 January 2018. One change makes stronger class IV beers and ciders available in shops.

nelosolutta alkon hyllyssä
Image: Emmi Korhonen / Lehtikuva

The Finnish Parliament voted in favour of several changes to Finland's alcohol legislation last week, and President Sauli Niinistö signed off on the new law on Thursday.

One of the most noted amendments to the country's traditionally stringent alcohol policies is to allow stronger drinks - with alcohol content up to 5.5 percent - to be sold in groceries, convenience shops and petrol stations. Up from the previous limit of 4.7, this means that class IV beers, stronger ciders and so-called alcopops will now be available at other outlets apart from the state-owned alcohol monopoly, Alko.

According to health authority Valvira's guidelines, manufacturers and wholesalers of alcohol products can begin supplying the stiffer alcoholic beverages to shops as soon as the President has signed off on the deal, but the products won't be available for sale until 1 January 2018.

Sinebrychoff Brewery, one of Finland's largest alcohol producers and the name behind the popular beer brands Koff and Karhu, has had crates of class IV beers at the waiting, and stores have been working overtime to prepare for the rollout.

Higher taxes also in store

The New Year will also see a 100-million-euro hike in the alcohol tax. Designed to reduce consumption, the higher tax will most affect the prices of beers, ciders and wines.

Craft breweries will also be allowed for the first time to apply for permission to sell to retailers from their regional government office, and sell products with less than 12 percent alcohol content directly to their customers.

Alko retail outlets will stay open until 9 pm and starting in March, restaurants adn bars will only have to file an announcement to continue serving until 4 am. They can then stay open for an hour after that, too, until 5 am.

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