For the last two nights, Kex Hostel’s cosy low-lit bar has been entertaining a slightly different crowd from usual. There have been more beards in the room, for a start; and those beards a bit bushier. There’s been a certain loucheness amongst the buzzing, almost uniformly male throng, with their slicked-down hair, rosy cheeks, stocky builds and jauntily angled flat caps.
And they weren’t just knocking their beer back, but daintily sniffing it, and holding it up to the light to check the colour. Some were even taking notes, or making charts of which ales they were yet to try. The occasion for the gathering is, of course, the Icelandic Beer Festival, at which overseas and Icelandic craft breweries come together to tout their wares. We talked to a few of the faces in the crowd to find out more.
Sam, Commons Brewery
“I’m from Portland. We do Belgian and French-style ales, and German lagers. We kinda focus on Northwest ingredients. We mostly sell in the US but a little goes to British Columbia. Our flagship beer is urban farmhouse ale—a simple, refreshing, mostly pilsner malt and rye, and yeast-driven. We haven’t met the other brewers yet, but I’m looking forward to meeting them.”
Ólafur Ágústsson, Kexland
“We started organising it right after the festival last year was over, then in October we started to think about importing the beers. And really, we just finished setting everything up today. So it’s been a long haul. We have twelve breweries, from Iceland, Denmark, and the US. We want to bring in the beers we think are most exciting. We want to get these great beers to the people here in Reykjavík and let them try something new.”
Kristine Stevens Beeco, Writer, and Gene Beeco, Brewer
Kristine: “I’m here researching a book. My partner here has a brewery called Moon River Brewing Company in Savannah, Georgia. I’m gonna be here for a few months so he came with me for the first couple of weeks—and how could we not come to a beer festival?”
Gene: “We like the Einstök, really good.”
Gunnar Ingi, Drinker
“I’ve been coming to the beer festival since it started. The Funk Orchard from Alefarm brewing was really good, and the Myrtle from Commons Brewery was really good. I like the sours. I enjoyed the red wine barrel-aged Acid Trip beer. I’m hoping they’ll put on the white wine barrel aged tonight but I’m not sure they’ll make it.”
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