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Grapevine Beer-Off 2

A penetrating dialogue about the merits and demerits of selected Icelandic microbrews
20.2.2012
Words by The Grapevine
BJARTUR BLOND NR. 4 (5%)

Borg Brugghús


A blonde ale made from German and Slovenian hops.


FIRST IMPRESSION!

We all agree it has an unusually harsh and sharp aftertaste for a blonde. Left a dry palate, but not without its merits.

Ryan: A plain brown wrapper and unassuming bottle. Reminds me of IKEA packaging.

David: Would like more info about the beer. It doesn’t even have a best before.

Ragnar: When would a beer in Iceland ever need a ‘best before’??

CONCLUSION?

Ryan: Not a session beer by volume, but it kind of fools you. In danger of turning into a dirty session.

David: Wouldn’t take it over Ölvisholt beers, but I’d try it again.

Ragnar: I’d give it another go (anyone else feeling a buzz?)

RATING: 3/5



EL GRILLO (5%)

Ölgerðin El Grillo


A clear lager named after a sunken oil tanker that still lies in the Seyðisfjörður bay.

FIRST IMPRESSION!

David: Ragnar, give that bottle to me, you need to learn how to pour a beer. You gotta tip the bottle at the end—give it a little head…oh, God.

Ragnar & Ryan: Hehehe. Yeah, we bet you’d like to give some head.

Thick, chocolaty, caramely, medium to high sweetness. Also quite dry. No real development or curve in how the flavour progresses. Flat in and flat out. A little too expensive for a session beer, but still suitable.

David: I still say the guy on the bottle looks like Hitchcock.

Ryan: I’ve noticed  it’s often not in stock.  

Ragnar: I know it comes in a can now.

CONCLUSION?

Solid session beer and could go well with a meal. Could go well with a nice burger or some Mexican food. No bells or whistles.

Ragnar: I don’t often drink beer but when I do, I prefer El Grillo.

RATING: 2.5/5



PILS ORGANIC (5%)

Víking ölgerð*


Golden Czech pilsner. Organic, we guess.

* Not strictly speaking a microbrew

FIRST IMPRESSION!

Nice green label! Looks like a picnic. Florid, with a nice fruity smell.

Ragnar: I think KEX is the only place that has this on tap. Didn’t like it when I tried it there.

CONCLUSION?

Not much to say. Middle of the road beer.

David: Leaves me wanting.

Ragnar: Tastes like licking the yellow line in the middle of the road.

Ryan: Would any of us order this again?

Nope.

 RATING: 1.5/5



GÆÐINGUR PALE ALE (4.5%)

 Gæðingur brugghús


A pale ale courtesy of a tiny, new contender from Skagafjörður

FIRST IMPRESSION!

Lot of head. Very frothy. Good portion left behind in the bottle. Lot of sediment. Milky. Cloudy. Plays on the tongue. Nice curve.

David: Enticing lacing. Want to peel the stocking back and see what’s underneath.

Ryan: Tart, citrusy. Tastes like grapefruit coming in and lingers as a Bosc Pear.

Ragnar: Gay. Smells like every scratch and sniff.

CONCLUSION?

Best so far. Best in show. Definitely try it again.

 RATING: 4/5 



STINNINGS KALDI (4.6%)

Bruggsmiðjan


Ale with angelica herb

FIRST IMPRESSION!

Ragnar: At what point do they add the angelica? I don’t taste it.

Roasted. Not as dry as the others. Clean finish.

CONCLUSION?

Good to throw back a six pack with some wings. Good for rinsing the mouth with but too bitter otherwise. Would choose over Gull or Thule, but nothing to call home about.

 RATING: 2.5/5



GÆÐINGUR STOUT (5.6%)

Gæðingur brugghús

FIRST IMPRESSION!

Ryan: Ah, now that’s a beer to go with a 90% cacao chocolate in front of the fireplace.

David: Fetch me my slippers and I’ll read to you from Kipling!

Woody. Smoked birch. Very roasted to the point of burnt. Black as sin. High alcohol volume for a stout.

CONCLUSION?

A lot going on there. Intense beer. Good beer to end the evening with.

David: The kind of flavour you want to take home with you.

Ragnar: Christ I’m drunk.

RATING: 3.5/5



FREYJA (4.5%)

Ölvisholt Brugghús EHF


FIRST IMPRESSION!

Ragnar: It’s a lady beer!

David: Don't you know what Freyja means? Fósturlandsins Freyja?

Ragnar: It's got a lady on it! With boobs!

CONCLUSION?

Milky honey colour, wheat beer, fruity, sweet, Belgian tradition, strong coriander taste, Summer beer, something for a hot day.

David: That's a quenching beer and has pretty good lacing.

RATING: 4/5    



ÚLFUR (5.9%)

Borg/Egils Ölgerð


FIRST IMPRESSION!

David: Grapefruity, not much head.

Ragnar: Don't really feel the 5.9%.

An IPA with low filling, low bitterness.

CONCLUSION?

Excellent beer. Strong first impression with that grapefruit pow!

David: Many of these beers are getting too boozy for the way Icelanders drink.

Ragnar: Yeah but Icelanders value the alcohol content very highly.

RATING: 3.5/5



SKJÁLFTI (5%)

Ölvisholt Brugghús


FIRST IMPRESSION!

Ragnar: Smells like a jockstrap and has colour of rusty urine (I totally mean that in a good way!)

CONCLUSION?

David: Skjálfti IS one of my favourite beers in the country.

Ragnar: Mine too. And Ölvisholt was a trailblazer, one of the first proper microbreweries in Iceland.

RATING: 5/5 



MÓRI (5.5%)

Ölvisholt Brugghús


FIRST IMPRESSION!

Ragnar: Goes really well with ‘The Wizard’ by Black Sabbath.  

David: A red beer, sweet and skunky smell. Good deal of carbonation. Named after a ghost, which is cool.

Ragnar: Terrible label, but we love it anyway. Quite sharp and works well on its own, but can’t mix it with other drinks in a session. I’m a one-beer man when it comes to Móri.

CONCLUSION?

David: You expect dark and heavy, but you get bubbling, sharp and spikey.

Ragnar: It’s like a wizard tricking you. It's a ghost. It’s a troublemaker. Like Ozzy!

RATING: 5/5



BLACK DEATH BEER (5.8%)

Víking


FIRST IMPRESSION!

Ragnar: Aimed at the tourists and about as subtle as a heart attack. An Icelandic name would have been nice. Can’t find it in the stores because there was some minor controversy about the label. You can get it at the bar Prikið though.

CONCLUSION?

It’s the Hard Rock Café of beers. Gimmicky, rich, thick, sweet and overdone. It’s heavy on liquorice. Alcohol taste is prominent. Looks cool on the shelf, but can’t say it does much.

RATING: 2/5   



SURTUR

Borg/Egils Ölgerð


Surtur is a stout. The name can be traced back to Norse mythology to the fire jötun Surtr or any of the place-names in Iceland that take after him. But look it up in a dictionary or ask any Icelander and they will tell you that the word is primarily a derogatory term for black people. Surtur is the Icelandic N-word. It’s as simple as that. The beer is black. The people at Egils Ölgerð must have thought this was a fun way to court controversy. I don’t buy that this was done by accident and I’m not amused. I haven’t tasted it and I’m not reviewing it. Simple as that.

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