Surprisingly, the Icelandic government prohibited beer during most part of the 20th Century. Once the authorities made the precious beverage legal again, it became the most popular beverage amongst locals. Every year, on March 1st, Icelanders celebrate Beer Day in honor of the abolition of the beer prohibition, which lasted 74 years (January 1st, 1915 to March 1st, 1989).
Beer always had an important place in the hearts of Icelanders. No wonders, since many locals had their own brewing equipment at home during the 19th Century! Nowadays, the Icelandic beer brewing industry is prospering rapidly. Several new breweries focusing on craftsmanship beers started their operations offering the widest selection of local beers Iceland ever had! The deliciousness of the Icelandic beers is not only due to the use of their pure and high-quality water but also to their ingenuity and rigor.
When the British invaded Iceland during the Second World War, many soldiers thought that their life was missing an important element… Beer! Hence, the government allowed Ölgerðin Brewery to produce beer for the British Navy, only for that period. You can still find this beer today under its original name; the Polar Beer. For the time being, it was still illegal for Icelanders to consume beer and it remained that way until the near end of the 20th Century!
Surprisingly enough, after the withdrawal of the prohibition, only a few breweries were producing a limited variety of beers. The main productions were pale lagers and lagers. The two major breweries were Ölgerðin Brewery and Vífilfell. Amongst many beers produced, you should try the following ones:
- Egils Gull
- Egils Premium
- Egils Sterkur.
- Viking Classic (Vienna style beer with a slight taste of caramel and roasted malt)
- Viking Sumaröl (Belgian style summer beer spiced with coriander and orange peel)
- Viking Páskabjór (Most popular Dunkel beer in Iceland with rusty tones and flavors of coffee, chocolate, and caramel)
In recent years, the beer market has flourished to give the drinkers an extended possibility of choices. Rather you are a beer lover or not, here are some beers you should definitely try before leaving. Some microbreweries, such as Ægisgarður are even offering tours allowing visitors to understand the process of beer making and taste many different products!
Later on, many smaller and creative breweries produce beer inspired from all around the world. Amongst many, the beer Bríó won several prizes for its distinct taste. The German hops and Pilsen Malt added to the recipe gives to the beer the interesting flavor. Once you try its sweet perfume, it is hard to let it go.
Lastly, you shouldn’t leave Iceland without trying the fruit of the first microbrewery that opened in 2006; Arskógssandur. Their brewing techniques are inspired by the Czech traditional ways. Kaldi, their pilsner beer offers dry and fresh taste with flavors of roasted barley and hops. The fermentation with burnt malt gives to the Kaldi Dark beer an additional dark color and intense flavors! You should visit the Kaldi Bar in the center of Reykjavik. Easier for you to taste more than one of their treasures!
list of other beers worth your time and money:
- Lava (Black Ale): Like wine, it ages very well and reaches its optimal taste quality after 3 years in cold storage! This beer won many championships, mainly the “United States Open Beer Championship”. Because of this, North American consumers can now enjoy this Icelandic delicacy from home!
- Einstök Beers: White Ale, Pale Ale, Toasted Porter, DoppelBock etc. The Einstöck brewery offers a great selection of beers for all tastes. It is most likely to find them in the UK and the USA. A question of keeping the travel lasting a little bit longer!
- Borg Brugghús Beers: Úlfur (Indian-styled Pale Ale), NR 8.2 Surtur (Imperial stout with vanilla and oaky aromas), NR 8.4 Surtur (Imperial stout with licorice, dark chocolate and coffee aromas) and Leifur Nr. 32 (Belgian White with arctic thyme and heaters flavors).