REAL LIVE BEER CULTURE IN ICELAND

Best Of Reykjavík - Best Beer Selection: Micro Bar
20.7.2012
Words by Byron Wilkes
Micro Bar, Austurstræti 6, 101           E4

Iceland is often heralded for its wild nightlife on weekends. Late-night debauchery has even gained the attention of the US government, which now warns tourists about the carousing that takes place in downtown Reykjavík.

Belying this alluring degeneracy, though, is the bad rap Iceland gets for its big-name beer brands, beers at which connoisseurs would no doubt turn their nose up and turn to sobriety instead.

But one bar is doing its part here in Reykjavík. The hero's name is Micro Bar. Micro Bar currently carries between 80–90 beers, even carrying upwards of 100 at times. The beers come from Belgium, Denmark, America (no Natural Light or Pabst Blue Ribbon here, though) and yes, Iceland. From pale ales, IPAs, stouts, imperial stouts, barley wines and even a few lagers, Micro Bar has something for those who enjoy flavour with their beer.

Bartender Steinn Stefánsson says the bar is always branching out for rarer beers, and at least 25 of the beers it sells cannot be found elsewhere in Iceland. “The more rare, and special the beer is, the bigger seller it is,” Steinn says. “People ask us, ‘Can I get a Sol? Can I get a Corona?’ But we don't have them because we only want to have brands that you cannot get any place else in town.”

Beers typically cost around 1,000 ISK, but one beer (the Trappist Westvleteren 12 of Belgium) sells for as much as 4,750 ISK. And for good reason: this beer ranks No. 1 on many beer rating websites, though sadly, Steinn says of the twelve bottles recently purchased, only one remains. The bar's draft selection of Icelandic microbrews hits closer to home (and are lighter on the wallet). During Happy Hour, which is between 17:00–19:00, one of their draft beers (this changes daily) can be had for 500 ISK.

On that note, Micro Bar does its part in promoting Icelandic microbreweries, with a bunch of Gæðingur on tap and other microbrews from Bruggsmiðjan and Ölvisholt by the bottle. The beers on draft, though, change too. Perhaps no surprise, the founder of Gæðingur helped make Micro Bar a reality. As the story goes, a particular Reykjavík bar stopped offering some of the country's micro brews, so Gæðingur's owner teamed up with some people to put a bar smack dab in the middle of Reykjavík that would feature strictly microbrews.

Steinn says credit also goes to Ingi and Andri Kjartansson, owners of distributor/importer company Járn og Gler. Steinn claims these part-time beer aficionados are largely responsible for choosing the bar's wares, constantly keeping an eye out for the finer tastes in beer.

Micro Bar has some hard liquor and wine, but the real reason to go is to sample some of finest beer you can find in Iceland. “We don't have any live music,” Steinn says. “This is a place where you can come, enjoy good beer and sit down and actually talk to each other.”

A refreshing quaff apart from traditional Icelandic nightlife, indeed. 

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