Iceland for Beer Enthusiasts?


A Guest Post by Atlantik DMC, Iceland

Beer has been in the story books of Iceland since settlement times in 874. Yet, in 1915, alcohol was banned in Iceland. In 1921, the import of rosé and red wine from Spain and Portugal was approved due to business trading – and other products followed later. Eventually in 1935, all alcohol except beer became legalised. During the prohibition years, the two breweries in Iceland were allowed to only brew a 2,25% beer which we normally call Pilsner.

As beer was still prohibited, a pseudo-beer was invented, called „Bjórlíki” which in its essence was Vodka mixed with Pilsner (2,25%). It supposedly tasted similar to beer and had an alcohol level of about 5%. 74 years after the prohibition, in March of 1989, the ban was lifted and the consumption of beer finally allowed again. Ever since then, the evolution of beer in Iceland has been rapidly changing with small breweries opening up around the country. Every year on March 1st we celebrate the National Beer Day to honour the history and to be thankful that we can enjoy a cold beer, legally.

Beer in Iceland – for internal and external use!

If you are a beer enthusiast or simply like to get to know local Icelanders and fellow beer fans, you can participate in a special beer walk around Reykjavik. On the tour you get the essence of the beer history along with a taste of some of our best micro crafted beers. There will also be a chance to taste Iceland‘s famous Brennivín (Black Death), a schnapps that is becoming famous around the world.

And if that’s not enough beer? How about bathing in it? A Beer Spa Resort will be opening in 2017 in the north of Iceland. It will give people the opportunity to soak in a 38°C (100°F) bath filled with a special blend of beer containing yeast and hops which are said to be beneficial to the hair and skin. There will also be available an outdoor hot tub for larger groups. While soaking in the beer, you can enjoy a cold refreshing glass of the Icelandic Kaldi beer from a tab next to the bath. Just be careful not to drink the bath „water”. :-)

Micro-breweries around Iceland

A highly-polished setting inside a microbrewery.

The beer history of Iceland is unique and quite interesting and of course we want you to get to know it better. There are a couple of breweries and micro-bars we recommend for every beer lover visiting Iceland:

Bryggjan Brewery is the first micro-brewery and bistro in Iceland, serving a wide variety of high-quality beers. What makes Bryggjan Brewery especially appealing is their own beer which they brew on-site. Their brew master, Bergur Gunnarsson, keeps the diversity in the beer selection by brewing various types of beer. Bryggjan Brewery offers a beer tour where individuals and/or groups receive tutoring on all things related to beer, the brewing process and Iceland’s beer culture and history.

When looking for a relaxed atmosphere and cosy surroundings, Skúli Craft bar is the right place to visit. At Skúli Craft bar you will find up to 14 different beers on tap that are constantly rotating, so you can always choose between some of the best beers available in Iceland. The great variety of beers served at Skúli more often than not comes from local micro-breweries, like the high-quality beer from Borg Brewery.

Microbar is one of the oldest craft beer bars in Iceland, opened in the summer of 2012. Like Skúli Craft bar, Microbar serves a great variety of high-class beers. You can choose between up to 10 different beers on tap as well as among an excellent variety of bottled craft beers from all over the world. Most of the Icelandic beer served at Microbar comes from the brewery Gæðingur, located in the north of Iceland, that offers new and exciting tastes into the growing beer culture in Iceland.

One of the largest breweries in Iceland, Viking, offers fun and interactive seminars and games on the beer history in one of their breweries in Reykjavík, Ægisgarður. The guests can try the famous „bjórlíki” and taste different types of brewings. Ægisgarður welcomes you to the multi-purpose house of the Icelandic brewing heritage and beer history where you can learn about the brewing methods, Icelandic beer culture, enjoy some beer tasting and participate in all kinds of merry Viking games perfect for every true beer enthusiast.

So, let‘s raise a glass (of beer) and say SKÁL (skauːl)!

So, let‘s raise a glass (of beer) and say SKÁL (skauːl)!

A panoramic image of Reykjavik, Iceland's capital, during the twilight blue hour. This is a composite of two horizontal images stitched together in photoshop.

A panoramic view of Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital, during the twilight blue hour. This is a composite of two horizontal images stitched together in photoshop.

All images by the courtesy of ©Atlantik DMC.