Beer glass on a table outside

Icelandic beer - Wild ideas at the arctic circle


Once operating in the shadows, Icelandic beer production has been flourishing in the last three decades. Commercial and micro breweries scattered all over the country, surprise and delight inhabitants as well as visitors with their daring creations, good craftsmanship, and hearty hospitality

A historic high in diversity

Iceland has not always been a hotspot for beer enthusiasts. From 1915 until 1989 beer and other alcohol was illegal in Iceland and not available for purchase. The majority voted for this measure because it was thought to prevent young people from starting to drink. Though other alcoholic beverages were legalized again shortly after, the beer ban lasted for 74 years.

The celebration of the annulment of this law takes place every year on the 1st of March on Icelands Beer Day called “Bjórdagur”. On the first Beer Day after the ban was lifted in 1989 Icelanders could only choose between 5 different types of beer in Iceland's governmental liquor stores. Today they can pick from many hundreds.

The sour and the sweet

Icelandic craft beer surprises with its diversity: stout beers with coffee and chocolate aroma, sour ales with a taste potpourri of berries and citrus, refreshing wheat beers - the choices are endless. Whether you prefer spicy or fruit beer, lager or pilsner, black, golden, or pale ale - Icelandic bars will fulfill all your wishes.

Some beers are brewed with the famous Icelandic milk product skyr or in breweries powered by geothermal energy. Some are made in the Westfjords and some on the Westman Island. But all the commercial and craft breweries have the most important ingredient in common: fresh Icelandic water.

Cascading Icelandic waterfall
Steel keg
Young woman drawing a beer in an Icelandic bar

A beer for every occasion

On top of the already big selection come the seasonal creations. What started with each company's special Christmas beer has now turned into a quarterly tradition. Easter and summer beers and a special midwinter edition for the traditional Þorri-month (from January until February), join the regular beers on the shelves for a limited time. Breweries often use these special editions to experiment with new ingredients and surprise their customers.

Taste the north

Once hidden and illegal, beer is now out in the open and available for every beer lover to taste. Brewery tours, beer tastings, beer walks, and pub crawls: Iceland's craft brewers want to share their passion for beer with you. On a trip around Iceland, taste some of our brews made from the freshest water imaginable. Big and small breweries in all corners of Iceland are making sure that you never have to drink the same beer twice.

Want to try them all? Here's a map of Iceland's Independent Craft Brewers

Cheers, or as we Icelandics say: Skál !

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Icelandic beer - wild ideas at the Arctic Circle