One of the things Iceland is most famous for is our beer. That’s no surprise given the bar and nightlife scene in downtown Reykjavik. From a thriving microbrewery culture to the beers on tap at Laugavegur Street bars, you’ll definitely find some tasty drops here. So which is the best Icelandic beer? Let’s go over this list of beers to try in Iceland during your trip.
Icelandic Beer: Craft Culture and Microbreweries
One of the things that you’ll notice about Iceland is that everyone has a hobby. For some people, it’s playing the violin. Others do some sort of sport. And there are those who like to get creative with hops, malt, and barley to see what ingenious creations they can come up with. Microbrewing, both personally and professionally, are quite popular here, which breeds a strong brewing culture.
This makes us beer connoisseurs. We value quality, well-brewed Icelandic beer. There has been a resurgence of beer culture in the last few decades, likely because beer was banned in Iceland until 1989. Luckily for us, that law was repealed and the ban was lifted. We actually celebrate every year with Beer Day.
There are now lots of authentic beers in Iceland to choose from. We wanted the beers on our list to be the real thing, so they need to be made in Iceland by locals. Enjoy this collection of the best Icelandic beer.
Best Icelandic Beer: Lava
Coming in at #1 for the best Icelandic beer Is lava beer. Not only is this Russian imperial stout beloved on our tiny Nordic Island, it’s also internationally popular. Produced locally at the Ölvisholt Brugghús brewery in Selfoss, it won best imperial smoked beer at the US Open Beer Championships. So what was the winning combination in 2012? Tasters were treated to a black beer with hints of dark chocolate, smoke, and roasted malt.
Another Delicious Iceland Beer: Gaedingur Stout
As you’re doing your own custom bar crawl during a night out in Reykjavik, be sure to order a pint of Gaedingur stout. It’s an absolutely scrumptious combination of coffee, chocolate, and caramel that will have you feeling like a kid in a candy store. Microbrewery Gæðingur Öl produces this stout and you can find it on stop at places like Micro Bar. For the uninitiated, Micro Bar is a downtown institution that specializes in craft beer.
You can also pick up a bottle at Vinbuðin, the state-run liquor stores. But as any beer enthusiast knows, it always tastes better straight from the tap. This is one Iceland beer that you absolutely must try.
Borg Brugghús: Surtur Nr. 47
Borg Brugghús brewery is a staple on the Iceland craft brewing scene. They’ve got several amazing beers in their lineup. The one I recommend most is another Imperial Stout, Surtur Nr. 47. One of the things you’ll immediately notice is the strong scent of freshly brewed coffee, which is also noticeable in the flavor. You’ll also pick up hints of chocolate and slightly burnt sugar. It has a 10% alcohol content so drink this brew, named after a fire demon from Norse mythology, with care.
Beer in Iceland: Some Others to Try
When talking about Iceland beer, our top three are just a few of many possibilities. Be sure to also try Borg Brugghús’s Leifur Nr. 32, a bitter ale with sweet heather and Arctic Thyme. There’s also the Einstök ales such as the Toasted Porter, the White Ale, Arctic Pale Ale, Winter Ale, and Arctic Berry Ale. The latter is flavored with bilberries that were hand-picked in Iceland. Lastly, we have Brió, an earthy, velvety, solid utility beer that won Best Pilsner at the World Beer Championships in 2012.
Surely one of these Icelandic beers will hit the spot.
Bonus: Kaldi Blonde
Kaldi has many different beers to choose from, and the Kaldi Blonde just happens to be my favorite. It’s Iceland’s top bottled beer that comes from Czech lager and the Pilsner tradition. The smooth, golden texture finishes with a bitter taste that it gets from its roasted malt. It’s a refreshing brew that will go down easily. Bruggsmiðjan Kaldi brewery produces this fine beer.
They’ve even got their own bar, also called Kaldi where you can try many of their different microbrews and refreshing beers. They also try to keep things all-natural by not adding sugars or preservatives as additional ingredients to this Icelandic craft beer.
Kaldi Beer Spa: A Unique Icelandic Experience
While it’s nice to sip on a cold one, refreshment isn’t the only way to enjoy beer in Iceland. The Kaldi Beer Spa, close to Akureyri, is every beer lover’s dream. You are literally soaking in your favorite beverage and surrounded by the sights, smells and tastes of Kaldi beer.
You may have heard it referred to as either taking a beer bath in Iceland or visiting the beer spa Iceland. It’s the perfect activity for beer super fans and even those who are more skeptical about soaking in a beer-filled bathtub. Let me explain.
There are actually health benefits connected to bathing in beer. The baths use live beer yeast from young beer which is great for your skin. it will also leave you feeling rejuvenated overall. And while you may be tempted to imbibe some of the amber goodness, there’s no need to start sipping your own bathwater. The fine people at the Kaldi Beer Spa have anticipated your needs and put cold beer on tap right next to your tub.
How Much Does Beer in Iceland Cost?
Before you set out to try all of the different Icelandic beers, there’s something I have to warn you about. While it’s typically considered a cheap drink in most places, everything is relative. it’s true that beer in Iceland is one of the cheaper alternatives but depending on where you’re from, you may still experience sticker shock. Be prepared to shell out around $8 for one beer at a bar or pub. You’ll still save money, as cocktails or a glass of wine both start around $10 each.
To give your pocketbook some relief, I recommend checking out Vinbuðin liquor stores to stock up on cheap beverages. You should also download the AppyHour app to find happy hours and drink specials all around Reykjavik.
Icelandic Beers: Enjoy Them Safely
Icelandic craft beers come from creativity and inspiration that has come into its own over the last 30 years. The wide variety of dark and light beer, sweet and bitter, an Indian Pale Ales mean there’s something for everyone. You definitely have your work cut out for you when it’s time to start tasting to find your favorites. Whatever you choose, you’re likely to be impressed with the quality of Icelandic brews.
Take care and drink responsibly. And remember, Icelandic law dictates that drivers can have no alcohol in their system. In other words, a blood level alcohol of 0%. So even if you’ve only had a sip or two, hand the keys over to a friend.