A Grapevine service announcement LOOK BUSY! Bárðarbunga Volcano Watch: The Morning Edition
Culture
Music
REAL LIVE BEER CULTURE IN ICELAND

REAL LIVE BEER CULTURE IN ICELAND

Words by

Published July 20, 2012

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. 



Culture
Music
<?php the_title(); ?>

Seven Icelandic Elf Songs

by and

“Álfareiðin” (“The Elf Ride”) “Álfareiðin” is one of Iceland’s most beloved elf-themed songs, and is sung by a bonfire every year at Þrettándinn (“the Twelfth Night”—celebrated by Icelanders every January 6). The song is actually not Icelandic at all: the lyrics are a translation, by fabled Icelandic poet Jónas Hallgrímsson, of a Heinrich Heine poem, and the song is by German composer H. Heide. Regardless, it is by now an indispensable part of Icelanders’ cultural heritage. “Starálfur”—Sigur Rós Apparently, there are certain elements to Sigur Rós’ music that tend to make their listeners associate the band with elves and Hidden

Culture
Music
<?php the_title(); ?>

Neutral Milk Hotel Made Me Who I Am

by

You are born. Not until a couple years later do you start to become a person, in the most rudimentary sense. It’s still not for quite a few years that you start to become your own person. Or perhaps it starts off okay, but as soon as you begin examining the world beyond yourself and your family, society’s homogenizing forces take hold of you. You don’t stand a chance. Culture is monopolized. When I was growing up in southern California in the ‘90s, the musical landscape, as I remember it, consisted almost entirely of pop punk, ska punk, and whatever

Culture
Music
<?php the_title(); ?>

Free Track: Prins Póló’s “París Norðursins”

by and

You won’t find Prins Póló’s unexpected summer hit “París norðursins” (“Paris Of The North”) on the act’s recent LP ‘Sorrí’ (‘Sorry’). Written and recorded specifically for the purpose, the song features in a highly anticipated film of the same name, which hits theatres in early September and should be pretty great if the Prince’s contribution is anything to go by. The track’s steadily humming, upbeat bass line is accompanied with occasional keys and distorted guitar segments, all wrapped up in a fun and danceable package. Hiding behind that cheerful façade are lyrics that explore a recurring bitter theme in Icelandic

Culture
Music
<?php the_title(); ?>

Parties Of The North

by and

Following a tremendously successful All Tomorrow’s Parties festival (ATP), the organisers have announced the headliner for next year’s fest, indie stalwarts Belle and Sebastian. We were lucky enough to see them the last time they visited Iceland, when they rocked the packed NASA venue in 2006, and can’t wait to see them again in the unique setting at Ásbrú. ATP is one of the best new phenomena to grace our musical horizon in quite some time. The abandoned military base is a perfectly outlandish setting for a festival that focuses on diverse alternative music. The execution of the festival was

Culture
Music
<?php the_title(); ?>

Straumur: Best Of Music

by and

Best album: GusGus’s ‘Mexico’ The greats of Icelandic dance music, GusGus, have yet to slip up in their almost two decade long career and they certainly don’t do so on their latest album, ‘Mexico.’ They continue to explore the sonic terrain of their last album, ‘Arabian Horse,’ a sound that is not in any way minimal, but extremely economical. But that would be for nothing if it weren’t for the melodies and singers. Vocalist Daníel Ágúst has particularly outstanding performances in “Crossfade” and “Sustain” and former member Urður Hákonardóttir shines on standout track, “Another Life.” But they also hark back

Culture
Music
<?php the_title(); ?>

The Northern Edge Of The Scene

by

If you were to read about Icelandic music in the press, then you’d be forgiven for thinking that all we listen to up here all day is a continuous loop of FM Belfast, Ásgeir, and Sigúr Rós, while employing secret cloning technology to keep our cultural industries stuffed full of post-rock non-entities and ethereal pop ninnies that sport woollen ponchos, face paint, and feather headdresses. Frankly that sort of stuff would send a sane person round the bend. Oh, but reader there are much wilder sounds on this Island if you know where to look! From black metal, to feminist

Show Me More!