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 application to join the NATO military alliance.
The lager is called Otan olutta – the first word a play on the French variation of the initials of North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
The full name also means “I’ll have some beer” in Finnish.
The brew had “a taste of security with a hint of freedom,” Petteri Vanttinen, the chief executive of family-run Olaf Brewing told Reuters.
Finland and Sweden applied to join NATO on Wednesday, a decision spurred by their alarm over Russia’s invasion of another neighbour, Ukraine.
Moscow initially threatened unspecified retaliation. “We are under the bear’s arm here, so to speak,” Vanttinen said in the brewery in Savonlinna, Eastern Finland.
But no one was panicking, he added. “We can have a beer now we’ve got this far in the process. I believe it reflects the Finnish mentality quite well that we just keep calm. There is no cause for alarm.”
The blue and white cans match NATO’s colour scheme and show a knight holding up a foaming tankard of beer, with the alliance’s logo stamped on his armour.
The brewery is named after the nearby St. Olaf’s Castle, a medieval stone fortress founded in 1475 to defend Finland, then a hinterland of the Swedish kingdom, against invaders from the Novgorod republic, a predecessor of modern day Russia.
(Reporting by Anne Kauranen; Editing by Andrew Heavens)