Despite Iceland’s rocky relationship with alcohol in the last century, a strong brewing culture has arisen. After all, Iceland has many of the necessary ingredients to brew great beer of the highest quality.
Apparently, the decades-long ban on beer in the country didn’t dampen the locals’ liking for the drink. In fact, it may have just heightened it. Let’s take a look at some breweries in Iceland and where you can visit them for yourself.
How many Breweries are there in Iceland?
There are thirty breweries in Iceland, which is quite a lot considering the island is home to less than half a million people. Amazingly, all of these microbreweries have been established from 2006 onwards.
Beer with a 2.25%+ alcohol content was banned in Iceland for a whopping 74 years, with the ban ending in 1989. The restriction was lifted on the 1st of March, which is now aptly known as “Beer Day” in the country.
Undoubtedly, Icelandic beer was being made during the ban, but only in underground operations. Now that it’s legal and there’s a market for locally produced beer, craft breweries have sprung up across the country.
Beer is actually the most-consumed alcoholic drink in Iceland, so the breweries are definitely not short of customers.
Now get ready to take some notes! Here are the best breweries in Iceland to satisfy your hoppy taste buds.
Top Iceland Breweries and taprooms
Besides breweries and bars, you can only buy beer from select stores in Iceland. This is because the government controls the sale of alcohol and runs the chain known as Vínbúðin.
These beer stores can be found in every town around the country. However, keep in mind that the legal drinking age in Iceland is 20, so you must be at least this old to join a brewery tour.
1. Bruggsmiðjan Kaldi
This was Iceland’s first microbrewery, opened in 2006 by a husband and wife in Árskógssandur, north Iceland. The first beer they produced, Kaldi Blonde, is the best-selling bottled beer in the country.
Since Árskógssandur is located far away from any big settlements, there is a wealth of pure water to brew with. The closest big town is Akureyri, 35 km to the south.
If you’re driving with your rental car along the north coast, a visit to this village is not to be missed. For ISK 2000 per person, you can tour the Kaldi brewery, or the brewery that produces Kaldi, one of the best craft beers in Iceland.
Here you’ll learn all about Kaldi’s backstory, participate in a tasting, and even get the chance to take your Kaldi beer glass home with you- a memorable souvenir indeed!
This Icelandic brewery is located near Selfoss in the south of Iceland, about 85 km from Reykjavík. What started out as a farm developed into a microbrewery in 2007, when two farmers decided to change everything.
Ölvisholt sells both year-round beers and seasonal beers, many of which are named after figures from Norse mythology. For ISK 3500, you can take a tour of their famous brewery where you’ll see the brewing process up close and personal and, of course, have the option to sample some beers.
Regular tours run on Friday evenings; to secure your spot, check out the booking information here.
This brewery is found in Hveragerði, 45 km from the capital. Famous for their use of geothermal energy and their fantastic pizzas, Ölverk offers a pizza and brewery tour combo, so you’ll be full of both knowledge and food. Book yourself onto a tour here.
You’ll have the chance to taste four of their beers on the tour and Additionally, you’ll have the chance to taste four beers on the tour and learn about the brewery’s beginnings back in 2017. This small town is actually located on the Golden Circle, Iceland’s most famous road trip route.
4. Einstök Brewer’s Lounge
While this is not the brewer’s brewery itself, it’s still a spot where you can sample and learn. Einstök is Iceland’s number one craft beer, brewed in Akureyri in north Iceland.
Their ales are also very popular, with many containing chocolate malt or Icelandic roots and berries. In the Brewer’s Lounge, you can discover more about the ingredients, their origins, and the overall creation of Einstök. Visit the Einstok official site to find the Lounge when you’re passing through Akureyri.
5. Kex Brewing
Kex is a hostel/bar downtown, and is one of the more well-known breweries in Reykjavík. While it’s not possible to visit their brewery, you can sample their beers by visiting the hostel. The Kex Brewing group also hosts the annual Icelandic Beer Festival, which takes place at the end of February.
A four-day event that began in 2012, it’s now grown to be about much more than beer; guests can enjoy live music and sample food that compliments the refreshing hops. Of course, you can also sample beers from all the breweries that attend.
If you’re in Iceland in February, check out the festival and celebrate the legalization of beer with the locals. Unfortunately, the festival has not run for the last two years, but things are looking positive for 2022.
6.The Beer Spa
This is a unique experience: a beer bath! In north Iceland, in the small community of Árskógssandur, you will find Bjórböðin, a spa and restaurant where you can bathe in hot beer. This might sound unusual, but it actually has many health benefits, including cleansing both the hair and skin.
The “bathwater” is a mixture of beer, water, hops and yeast, but bathing in it won’t make you drunk. Each of the seven baths are in a private room, and they’re large enough for two people so you can either go on your own or with a partner.
While the beer in the bath is not drinkable, there is a beer draft next to every tub to supply you with a drink while you bathe. You’ll be allotted 25 minutes in the wooden tub, after which you’ll move to a relaxation room for 25 minutes.
There aren’t many places in the world you can try this, so why not do it while you’re in the Land of Fire and Ice?
Icelandic beer tasting experience
Breweries in Iceland are now very much a part of the country's culture, and they continue to grow in popularity.
Most locals prefer to buy locally produced beer over imported beer anyways, and tourists are always keen to sample local cuisine. Take a few brewery tours on your road trip around Iceland and find your favorite Icelandic beer!