Julebrus is a generic term in Norway for soda pop drinks sold at Christmas time. The tradition started by breweries who would bring out a special beer for Christmas, which continued onto all drinks, and now soda pop.
Today julebrus commonly come in two different flavours. The red coloured julebrus is a cheap raspberry flavour and the brown julebrus is described as champagne, though I would describe both of them as ‘creaming soda’.
Julebrus hits the shelves in November for the Christmas season, ending in January. The labels are very attractive with festive and traditional prints. The bottles themselves become a decorative item on Norwegian Christmas tables. Each year companies try to top each other in design – Norwegians like to have a ‘designer’ Christmas.
Julebrus is seen as a children’s drink and it is usually present at every party and activity leading up to Christmas.
Each year there are independent panel tests run the media (usually made up of high school kids). The drinks normally score from ‘hideous’ to ‘acceptable’. They often have a wine taster as ‘the expert’ and in 2009 he described the Coca Cole julebrus as ‘sickenly synthetic’. He went on to say that he admits that he has high standards and would probably like the product better if he was 8 to 10 years old.
This year the Norwegian drink maker Grans has come out with a more sophisticated julebrus – pear flavour. We were eager to try it as the other two choices of julebrus are getting old. The pear flavour was delightfully refreshing. It was light and didn’t have that plastic aftertaste like the other flavours do. I think Grans has upped the ante on the quality of julebrus this year.