1988 sucked in Iceland. Beer, believe it or not, was still puritanically illegal and there was certainly no Icelandic craft beer scene. However, in 1989—as the world flocked to see the first ‘Batman’ reboot and ‘Honey, I Shrunk The Kids!’—all that changed. Icelanders immediately started getting their drink on, and they’ve never looked back. Recently, brands like Einstök, Kex, Borg and Kaldi have changed the game again with their all-Icelandic craft beer recipes—these days, you can barely move without bumping into some kind of experimental rhubarb gose or quintuple IPA, and there are micro breweries coming out of the woodwork. Beer enthusiasts, rejoice… in the following places for a great beer in Iceland.
Kex have been a leading proponent of the Icelandic beer revolution. They run the Annual Icelandic Beer Festival, which brings together international brewers with their local colleagues for three days of tasting and revelry. Kex also brew their own beers, with wonderful early results—the “Forbidden Fruit” in particular is a very zingy sour ale. The Kex organisation is at the epicentre of Iceland’s craft beer revolution.
Groundbreaking Danish craft brewery Mikkeller have a nice bar in Reykjavík. It’s called Mikkeller & Friends, because of the constantly-changing variety of guest ales that sit alongside the Mikkeller brews on the taps. It’s pricey, but you get what you pay for here—Mikkeller & friends turn every flavour up to eleven.
Kaldi is one of the champion Icelandic craft beer brands, brewed up north near Akureyri. Their bar in Reykjavík is a cosy hole-in-the-wall place, with a literal hole in the wall—a former alleyway is now an additional seating area. Patrons can get a satisfyingly chunky pint of their unfiltered lager, dark ale, or whatever seasonal brew is currently on the taps.
The charming geek of the craft bar family, Microbar is a tucked-away basement on Vesturgata that has a healthy selection on tap, and a veritable vault available by the bottle. The barmen are true beer aficionados, and they’re always ready for a chat. It’s often quiet on weeknights, so you might be able to hear yourself think. Bonus!
Skúli is the most “dad” of an already very daddish bar selection. With a classic rock perma-soundtrack and a gastropub vibe, it’s the perfect place to either be a dad, or take your dad. Or grandad, for that matter. They have lots of International and Icelandic craft beers, and a Bao Bun food truck parked outside. Bring your own flat cap and dance sitting down.
This spacious, swanky beer palace out on Grandi has an in-house brewery producing a constant rotation of interesting new Icelandic craft beers and things to try. It’s a bit pricey, but if you’re with a large group, you’ll definitely be able to get a seat.
This new tourist-oriented bar on Lækjargata is one of the few places you can pick up Austri beer, which is brewed out in East Iceland. They have an all-Icelandic selection, and have set their hearts on having pretty much every Icelandic craft beer available, on tap or by the bottle. They also have a basement for entertainment, so you can expect some Viking shit to be going down in the immediate vicinity.
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