The Belle Of The Bar

Ölstofan serves up a one-of-a-kind tribute beer
Words by Rebecca Louder
The bar Ölstofan located on Vegamótastígur is a cosy, laid-back pub known for a fine array of local and imported brews. They have recently become the only bar in Reykjavík to serve its own exclusive brand of beer, thanks to a collaboration with the Borg micro-brewery. Borg is a small offshoot of Ölgerðin, the largest and oldest brewery in Iceland. Opened one year ago, their first project was working with the owners of Ölstofan, Kormákur and Skjöldur, in creating a one of a kind draft beer to suit the bar’s collection and reflect the purported good taste of its owners.

“It started a year ago. Our most popular beer was Grolsch and it looked like we wouldn’t have it anymore,” Kormákur tells us, “Borg had just opened and they asked us if we would like to create our own beer with them.” They taste-tested a variety of types of beers and flavours and landed on a light, German pilsner with a strong Czech influence to the flavour.

The beer also has a shorter life-span than the average brew, meaning it only stays good for about three months and has to be kept and served very cold. Because of this, Kormákur says the beer is great to drink when one is very thirsty. “It’s really refreshing and you can drink a lot of it,” he chuckles. He also says the beer appeals to both beer fetishists and casual beer drinkers alike. “I thought it  was not a ‘girl beer’, but a lot of women are very satisfied with it,” he goes on. “It has a fruity taste and it is light enough.”

Being a woman and beer lover myself, this Grapevine reporter decided to head down and try it. I can attest that the beer is indeed quite enjoyable. The honey-brown ale has a satisfying edge and a hint of bitterness that brings out the hops. The bite is balanced out by light hints of berry and the super cold temperature at which it is served, making it extremely pleasant to take nice big sips of and have a few in a row. It also comes served in a really beautiful tulip glass that makes you feel super fancy while drinking it. Maybe that’s why some ladies like it, but I just thought it tasted damn good.

The brand is named for a close friend who passed away last autumn. The moniker is drawn from a popular song and describes a happy-go-lucky person. “Bríó is a way of life,” says Kormákur, “It’s like when you have all your grocery bags and you should go home, but instead you go to the bar and your wife is calling wondering where you are, but that beer was so good! My friend was named Bríó, so it is in honour of him.”

He says the beer is now selling so well that the brewery might have trouble keeping up with the demand. “I thought it would be maybe a quarter or one fifth of our sales,” he continues, “but in the first week it was 60% of our sales. Everyone is taking Bríó now. Our regular customers love it and we are getting even more new customers.” They hope to collaborate with Borg on making more new flavours in the future. 

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