Even though history teaches us that Vikings drank the blood from the skulls of their conquered enemies, what the Norsemen really knocked back was fresh water, mead, and Icelandic beer!
Settling in the Iceland during the Medieval Age, the Vikings, who were always in search of innovation, brewed and blended Icelandic beer from the fermentation of grain and barley, and created mead, another alcoholic beverage, from honey and fruits.
Icelandic beer and ale drinking, which is mentioned in Icelandic literature and the Saga Age poem, Hávamál, has a long history in the Nordic nation, and it is only right that locals should maintain the tradition by raising a glass today.
Historically, Iceland has been through a period of prohibition on Icelandic beer because locals thought it would tempt young people and workers into heavy drinking.
In 1915 there was a total wipe-out ban on the consumption of wine, beer, and spirits. Nevertheless, the bar on wine was lifted in 1922 and spirits followed in 1939, but beer was completely forbidden till 1989.
Icelandic beer sales are still highly controlled, with government-run stores, Vínbúðin, or pubs being the only places you can purchase a pint!
Since the beer ban was lifted, locals now celebrate ‘Beer Day’, or Bjórdagurinn, anually on the 1st of March, to honour the abolition of the 70-plus years prohibition of beer.
Festivals are held all over the Arctic island, with live music, the best of the Icelandic beer trade… and more beer. Oversees breweries get involved too because everyone, as well as Icelanders, loves nothing more than having an Icelandic beer, and this huge get-together is a great way to make merry.
Travellers are also always amazed to find such a huge selection of Icelandic breweries and artisan micro-breweries when they visit Iceland which, for a small nation, certainly stands tall in terms of quality beer.
Favourites such as Einstök Hvítt, a refreshing, award-winning craft white ale with an orange twang, brewed in Akureyri by Ölgerðin Egils Skallagrímsson, is a preferred pint among pub-goers.
There are so many beers and beverages that Icelanders love that we’ve drawn up a list for Nature Kickers, so you can decide what your best Icelandic beer would be!
With a creamy and nutty taste, Pils Organic is a delicately, delicious, goes-down-well in the summer-type, of Icelandic beer that is made from 2-row organic spring barley and hops.
Traditionally a dark beer, this Icelandic stout is a strange pale colour. With a mixed flavour of chocolate, liquorice and coffee, it smells just as good as it tastes. Doubly fermented with fresh Icelandic water, the smooth but spicy tang of this Icelandic beer will leave your taste buds tingling.
With a tropical, fruity fusion of mango and pineapple, Úlfrún is an Icelandic beer that is filled with Sorachi Ace, Centennial and Simcoe hops, malted barley, wheat, hops, oats, and yeast, and everything else, giving it a twang that you won’t be able to get off your tongue.
Shaped with skill, the Viking Gylltur Icelandic Beer is brewed in the old-fashioned, established way, making it a thirst-quenching, first-class beverage with a distinguished taste.
The brewery-made, blonde, Icelandic beer is chestnut in colour with a soft filling of roasted malt. It’ll warm your throat up in all the right places with its bitter, but mild twang. Sold mainly by the bottle and hard to find sometimes, a few Kaldi’s, which are brewed in the Pilsner tradition, will go down a treat.
If you like oranges, this clementine-cladded Icelandic beer will be the best for you. With a crisp, hard-hitting, hop flavour that’ll hit the spot, Bríó, which was the first beer to be Borg brewery made, has won an awesome number of awards.
Superbly served with a bit of fruit which brings out the citrus swank of the Icelandic beer, Einstök White Ale is a classic summer ale, made with wheat malt, pilsner malt, oats and Bavarian hops, and flavoured with coriander and orange peel. As a refreshing, real ale, it’ll relax you for the rest of the day.
Ástríkur is an Icelandic beer that is specially crafted by the Borg Brewery for the Reykjavik Pride Festival each year.
Úlfur means Wolf, and this Icelandic beer will give you the bite you need! With a citric flavour and fruity smell, this dry-hopped kind of ale has a juiciness that Icelanders love and will certainly fizzle you taste-buds.
As a tri-brid of English, American, and European style pale ale, this hoppy Icelandic beer has a pale and caramel colour, and is brewed with a combination of Cascade, adding flavour and essence to its earthy tones. It is certainly a brilliant beer that you’ll have to buy.
If our top-ten Icelandic beers list has twisted your taste-buds, then read our list of Icelandic beers which have won some fantastic prizes at the impressive World Beer Awards, and which will give you further knowledge of which Icelandic beers you’ll need to try!
Icelanders are some of the best at brewing beer! Beer has always been a big thing in Iceland since the Viking times, so maybe it’s something in their blood! Whatever the reason, our Arctic allies sure know how to create some of the most buzzing beverages!
Untappd, a beer social sharing platform, graded some of the best beer brewers in Iceland who, although their establishments are small, provide a variety of some of the best Icelandic beer in the country.
Beer tasting and of course drinking, is a common addition to several activity tours in Iceland, and a few pints always go down well after a day of adventuring in the Arctic.
With a love of liquor and lager dating back to the Viking times, you can be sure that your Icelandic beer will be brewed to the best that it can be and will certainly go down well.
Make sure you pop into any brewery when you visit Iceland, just to see for yourself. As the saying goes, there’s proof in the pudding, and for us, there’s belief in the Icelandic beer!
Image courtesy of the Breweries