It seems that the introduction of an Icelandic microbrewery has been long overdue: it was nearly twenty years ago that the ban on beer was lifted, and since then big-brand beers have dominated the nation’s shelves. As Iceland’s first (and only) microbrewery, Kaldi was founded as an alternative to the preservative, sugar, and chemical-heavy beers that are generally sold in the state alcohol store and in bars.
The idea for Kaldi came after Agnes Sigurðardóttir and Ólafur Ólafsson (Kaldi is a husband and wife operation) watched an engaging segment on the news about the popularity of microbrews in Denmark. After much inquiry, they saw the opportunity to buy equipment and grains from the Czech Republic. Along with the deal came expert Czech brewmaster David Masa. They soon brought the brewery to their hometown of Árskógssandur, a small coastal town northwest of Akureyri, where the opportunity for work was not exactly abundant.
While it would be cheaper for the brewery to add preservatives found in larger beers like Viking or Thule, the founders of Kaldi opted for quality: “We like this type of beer, and that’s why we chose to brew it,” says Ólafsson. Due to the lack of additives, the beer has a shelf life of only 3 months (Beers with preservatives have a one-year shelf-life). Still, Ólafsson believes that the popularity of the beer will grow as people become more health-conscious.
While generally available at the Vínbúð, Kaldi can only be found in two bars in Reykjavik and a few in Akureyri. Due to the small size of the brewery, Ólafsson does not expect that many bars will be picking up the brew in the near future.