When you travel in Iceland these days you will probably notice there are numerous beer labels and microbreweries that make their own beer. This is quite a remarkable fact, given that until 1989 beer was banned in Iceland. Today the beer culture is thriving, and you can barely visit a village that doesn’t have its own brewery with unique, great beers.
Some say it’s the freshness of the Icelandic water while others say it’s the bravery and daring spirit of the Icelandic Viking brewers, but either way the beer scene is exploding — and we are here to guide you through it! Which Reykjavik microbrewery is the best? Can you taste local beer on the Golden Circle? Where is the best Icelandic craft beer on the Ring Road? Is there really a geothermal brewery in Iceland? Here are the answers to these questions and so much more!
Fun Facts about Iceland and Beer
- Beer was banned in Iceland until the 1st of March in 1989, so every year Icelanders celebrate Beer Day on this date to remember the great day when the ban was lifted
- Beer is the most common drink to have at happy hour in Iceland
- Most breweries in Iceland make a special beer for seasonal occasions: Christmas Beers, Easter Beers, Northern Lights Beers and Summer Beers
- Icelanders say “Skál“ when raising their glasses before a drink
- The word for “beer“ in Icelandic is “Bjor“
- Some hot spring pools have bars, so you can take beer with you into the water! Examples include the Blue Lagoon, the Secret Lagoon and Myvatn Nature Baths.
Top 10 Must Taste Icelandic Beers and Craft Beers
- Ulfrun IPA 4,5%
- Brio Lager/Pilsner 4,7%
- Einstok White Ale 5,2%
- Kaldi Lager/Pilsner 5%
- Garun nr. 19 Imperial Stout & Porter 11,5%
- Gaedingur Pale Ale 4,5%
- Boli Premium Export Lager 5,6%
- Egils Gull Light Lager 5%
- Malbygg Kisi Pale Ale 5,5%
Best Breweries in Reykjavik
- Borg Brugghus – they are undoubtedly the kings of the brewing scene in Iceland. They are not really considered a microbrewery, but their brew masters are very creative. Definitely be on the lookout for their recent recipes when you visit Iceland. And don’t miss out on their classics such as Ufrun, Solveig, Ulfur, Garun, Snorri, and Leifur.
- Malbygg – they are new on the scene but have made a name for themselves in an amazingly short time. The company’s beer masters were already celebrities in the Icelandic brewing community before the establishment of Malbygg, so people were excited to hear they were creating a new brewery. People were even more excited when the first beers started hitting the shelves. Malbygg is known for its simple deliciousness, gorgeous beer can artwork, and humorous label names. Our recommendations include their Kisi, Galaxy and Sopi labels!
- Kex – if there ever was a cool place to hang out it is Kex Hostel and Bar, where you can try some delicious home brewed beer, chow on some savory burgers and listen to live jazz music. I just love this place! They put a special emphasis on creating lovely Christmas beers, so if you are in Reykjavik during the holiday season, make sure to stop by!
- Bryggjan Brugghus – located in the hipster Grandi district, Bryggjan Brugghus is an excellent stop to make while exploring the Old Harbor district shops. There is something truly distinguished about Bryggjan‘s ambiance, and the food is first class. Why not sign up for a popular tour where you can taste at least six different beers paired with scrumptious food courses? Learn more here.
- Mikkeller & Friends – when you think of the words “craft beer“ and “Iceland“ the metropolitan brand Mikkeller & Friends might not instantly come to mind, but this is the place to go if you are looking for a brew pub with delicious home-made brews, a colorful interior decor and a great selection!
There is nothing like tasting the great variety of beers in Iceland while exploring Reykjavik– why not join us on our Reykjavik beer tour?
Best Breweries and Craft Bars on the South Coast
- Olverk – A great place to visit in Hveragerdi, Olverk is the only brewery in Europe that produces geothermally brewed beer! Most people know Olverk as a great restaurant, especially for pizza. But behind it all is an amazing brewery. Olverk continues to surprise us with unique tastes, mixes and collaborations.
- Olvisholt Brewery – this microbrewery is located on a farm in South Iceland. You can purchase Olvisholt beers at most Icelandic liquor stores or simply make a stop at the brewery when exploring the South Shore. The Olvisholt team offers fun tours of the brewery that include beer tastings. It‘s a great way to get to know their refreshing beers straight from the source!
- Brothers Brewery – this craft beer brewery is located in the remote and beautiful Westman Islands, which adds even more charm to their products. Their beers are smooth to drink, and most are named after colorful characters, and local legends. The Brothers Brewery has a craft bar in front of their microbrewery where you can sit down and enjoy their beers on tap. Brothers is “must“ stop in the Westman Islands!
- Jon Riki – this restaurant/bar/brewery is a delightful gem located at Hofn in southeast Iceland. It is a family-owned company offering great quality food and innovative craft beer. Jon Riki is a wonderful spot to treat yourself to some traditional Icelandic dishes washed down with a glass of excellent Icelandic craft beer.
Best Breweries and Craft Bars in East Iceland
- Beljandi – this is an example of one of those quirky places that make people love Iceland. In the middle of a tiny village in the far away Eastfjords, you will find an incredible brewery, Beljandi. It has its own charmingly rustic Icelandic craft bar which the local community worked hard together to create. Beljandi is located in a refurbished meat packing building in Breiddalsvik, and everything is designed to evoke the feel of the place. The menu is set to fit the beers, and the bartenders/brewers are super friendly!
- Austri Brugghus/Brewery – located at Egilsstadir, the “capital“ of the Eastfjords, Austri brewery was founded in 2015 and is loved by many. Their focus is on producing proper good beers that go well with the high-quality food culture in the Eastfjords. You can try their beers at many of the local restaurants around the East.
Best Breweries and Craft Bars in North Iceland
- Kaldi – if you ask anyone about the beer brewing culture in Iceland you are likely to hear the name Kaldi. The Kaldi brewery was established in 2006 and has been operating since with their internationally-known lagers and ales. You can also enjoy the famous Beer baths in Arskogasandur village, where you relax in a geothermally-heated barley brew designed just for spa treatments. Kaldi’s specialty is that they only make beer in bottles, so the label is easy to spot in the shelves! There is now also a Kaldi Bar in Reykjavik.
Fun Fact: Kaldi was the first microbrewery to open up in Iceland. The Kaldi brewers take the water used for the brewing directly from a small spring above the farm.
- Segull 67 – Three generations of a family own this brewery located in the colorful village of Siglufjordur in North Iceland. The word “Segull“ means “magnet“ in Icelandic, and it is connected to the idea that a magnetic compass always points north, the direction where Segull 67 is located. The number 67 is a lucky number in the family, and they figured it could help the company. Segull 67 has been gaining a large following in the short time they have been brewing beer. They are well worth the visit, and we especially recommend their brewery tours!
- Gaedingur – in Icelandic, “gaedingur“ means a great horse. The name was quite fitting for a brewery located in Skagafjordur, the mecca of the Icelandic horse. Gaedingur offer a wide variety of beers, ranging from IPAs to stouts to pale ales and German-style lagers. In recent years they have also started to create seasonal varieties.
Best Breweries and Craft Bars in West Iceland
- Dokkan – the first brewery in the Westfjords is located in Isafjördur, the region‘s largest town. They have just started but are already receiving excellent praises for their fresh beers and great brewery tours.
- Stedji – also known as “the brewers who dare“! Stedji is known to walk the usual line in their choice of flavors. Innovative techniques include smoking their beers adding ram‘s testicles to them, along with ingredients such as chocolate, algae or strawberries. The results are interesting and delicious, and it‘s safe to say that everyone can find his or her unusual favorite at Stedji. I personally love the chocolate and algae one and encourage you to try it! Their tours are great and the brewers very knowledgeable and friendly
And that’s it! Now all you have to do is grab some beer, raise your glass and say “SKÁL“!