Plenty of breweries in Iceland offer fascinating tours and thirst-quenching tastings. In total, there are 39 breweries on this small North Atlantic island that is similar in size to the state of Kentucky.
As well as imbibing delicious drinks, visiting Iceland breweries is a wonderful way to dig deeper into the local culture. Craft and microbreweries are places where visitors can enjoy conversation with the brewers, and learn about the local flora, and its impact on the flavors of lagers, ales, and stouts.
Once you’ve spent time relaxing at one of Iceland’s geothermal spas or hiking majestic mountains, try one of these breweries to relax with a local brew.
RVK Brewing Company, Reykjavik
Close to downtown Reykjavik, RVK Brewing Company began in 2017, started by Sigurdur Snorrason, known as Siggi, who was inspired to launch a brewery by his own love of beer.
Visitors will find a taproom with around 10 beers available. The selection is often switched up, but tends to include crisp lagers, Belgian wheat beers, hazy IPAs, amber ales, and a thick and creamy stout.
Visitors can tour RVK Brewing Company’s original brew house, with visits taking place at 4 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. Get behind the scenes to understand the brewing process and sample beer straight from the fermenters and see the brewing equipment.
Tours include a history of Icelandic beer and an introduction to RVK’s beers, followed by a flight of drinks. You’ll leave with a souvenir RVK glass to take home.
Dokkan Brugghús, Isafjordur
Dokkan is the first brewery to open in the way-out Westfjords in the gorgeous town of Isafjordur, northwest Iceland.
While the dazzling Icelandic mountains, glistening fjord, and captivating wildlife might draw you to Isafjordur, Dokkan’s tasty brews will lure you into the brewery, located near Ísafjörður Tourist Information Center and the Westfjord History Museum.
Founded in 2017, this microbrewery is a family-run business that produced its first beer in the summer of 2018.
Today, Dokkan produces 12 libations, including a refreshing lager, a Pale Ale, an Amber Ale, IPAs, a low-alcohol Pilsner, and a stout. Among the craft brewery’s drinks is the must-try Dynjandi IPA, named after the Westfjords’ magnificent waterfall.
Take a trip around the brewery to learn about how Dokkan perfects its drinks, with the distillation process tapping into the Westfjords’ mineral-rich glacial water.
You could sit outside, weather permitting, and enjoy an alfresco beer as you soak in the views of Isafjordur’s surrounding green mountains.
Borg Brugghús, Reykjavik
Led by Brewmasters Árni Theodor Long And Sturlaugur Jón Björnsson, Borg Brugghus has produced dozens of craft ales in Iceland’s capital since 2010.
Ripe barley is malted or harvested, and soaked in water to allow the germination process to begin. It’s dried, heated, toasted, and milled (the process of crushing the malt kernels), before the mashed grains are lautered to separate the wort (the sugary liquid) from the grains. You could learn about all of this—the fermenting, filtering, and finally bottling—at Borg’s brewery.
There is a drink to suit every taste at Borg, too. If you enjoy velvety stouts, you will adore Nr. 100 Surtur Imperial Stout, with its sweet aromas of maple syrup, vanilla, and coconut.
Nr. 68 Karl R. is a crisp lager that packs a punch, the jaunty Helga brew is a raspberry-tinged joy, Nr. 48 Lúther is a deliciously hoppy, fruit blond beer, and Brio is an exquisite German-style Pilsner.
Segull 67 Brewery, Akureyri
As well as producing outrageously good ales, Segull 67’s claim to fame is its location as one of the northernmost breweries in the world.
Opened in 2015, Segull 67 is found in the picturesque fishing village of Siglufjörður, near the town of Akureyri, on Iceland’s north coast.
This family-owned craft brewery is located in a former fish-freezing plant that was closed down in 1984. The nearby Herring Era Museum is close by and another must-visit in Siglufjörður.
Segull, which means magnet in Icelandic, is named after the magnetic needle of a compass, and 67 because of the brewery’s far-north location. It’s also considered to be a lucky number for the owners, the Haraldsson family. Marteinn Haraldsson runs operations at Segull 67, with his father and grandmother co-owners of the business.
Sample Segull’s five tipples to decide on your favorite. The Original is an easy-drinking amber ale. Sjarmör is a refreshing craft lager, with a light hoppy flavor. Sigló is an Indian Pale Ale with a citrusy, peachy finish.
Naggur is an IPA with an earthy, fruity flavor, while Svarta María is a stout with a rich coffee and chocolate flavor. There are seasonal beers, too, that sees Segull 67 brewers tap into the time of year, including festive brews and summer ales.
If you don’t make it to the wonderfully remote Siglufjörður, Segull 67 is served at Le Kock, a bar and restaurant on Reykjavík’s waterfront, where street food-inspired dishes include burgers, chicken wings, and a fish tempura of the day.
Ölgerðin Brewery, Reykjavik
Of all the breweries in Iceland, Ölgerðin Brewery is the oldest. Established in 1913 by Tomas Tomasson in downtown Reykjavik, Ölgerðin first produced one of Iceland’s most popular sodas, Egils Malt Extract. In the 1950s, the brewery began producing Egils Appelsín, an orange soda, which also became a much-loved staple.
Despite the country’s prohibition, Ölgerðin was allowed to produce its first beer, Egils Pilsner from 1917. It was offered to American and British servicemen during World War I, but the company wasn’t allowed to sell it.
Tomasson remained at the helm of the business until his death in 1978, though he never got to taste the brewery’s distinguished Gull lager, which debuted in 1989. Today, Ölgerðin not only distributes Gull across the country, but it’s one of the few Iceland breweries to distribute internationally, too, with its beers available in North America and Europe.
The brewery’s award-winning Gull—named the World’s Best Standard Lager at the World Beer Awards in 2011—is, of course, also served in bars around Iceland, including The English Pub in Reykjavik.
Sip on this crisp, effervescent lager, made with Icelandic water and German malt, and admire its golden hue and frothy white top.
Bruggsmiðjan Kaldi Brewery, Near Akureyri
Made using Icelandic spring water sourced from Sólarfjall, a mountain on the edge of the Eyjafjörður, Bruggsmiðjan creates some of Iceland’s finest, crispest craft ales.
Opened by Agnes and Ólafi in 2006, Bruggsmiðjan is one of Iceland’s earliest micro-breweries, located in Árskógssandur on the Eyjafjörður. This sublime spot—on the Tröllaskagi peninsula in north Iceland—produces four permanent beers using hops from the Czech Republic.
Sample the Pilsner-style lager, Kaldi Ljós, the brewery’s debut beer. There’s also Kaldi Däkkur, a dark Pilsner with a cola color and notes of caramel and roasted malt. Nordan Kaldi is an English-style ale, also brown and malty, while Bruggsmiðjan’s Kaldi IPA is a delightful hoppy beer.
Bruggsmiðjan has a further four beers in development, too, including a light lager, a summer lager, a complex Christmas chocolate beer, and a Christmas lager.
Brewery tours cover the history of Bruggsmiðjan and how the drinks are made, followed by a tasting of beers straight from the tap.
There’s more; in June 2017 Bruggsmiðjan opened a beer spa, hotel, and restaurant in a separate building just minutes from the brewery. Here, visitors can experience a hot soak in a traditional Kambala-wood bathtub filled with beer. While the bathing beer is undrinkable, draught beer is available at every tub.
The 25-minute bathing experience is followed by 25 minutes spent in a relaxation room. More than a novelty experience, a beer bath—complete with live beer yeast, water, hops, beer salt, and beer oil—has real health benefits. It’s said to soften and cleanse hair and skin due to its low pH levels. Beer yeast is rich in Vitamin B, while the hops are high in antioxidants and alpha acids.
Malbygg Taproom, Reykjavik
Malbygg is an Iceland brewery producing 12 hand-crafted ales. Known for its hoppy ales and fruity beers, Malbygg began brewing in February 2018, led by brothers Ingi Már Kjartansson and Ingi Már Kjartansson, and the help of head brewer Andri Þór Kjartansson.
Follow up a day of whale watching or culture at Harpa Concert Hall—one of the most beautiful places in Iceland—with a visit to Malbygg’s pared-back tap room. A rotating selection of ales is on tap. Visitors can also order four-drink taster trays.
Road test the Galaxy, with its tempting honey hue, or Kisi, a Pilsner pale ale. There’s Sopi, a Session IPA (with lower alcohol than a regular IPA), while Basl is an American-style IPA, known as DIPA, or double IPA, due to its hoppier, maltier flavor.
On a tour of the brewery, you could also learn about the line’s sour fruity drinks, with raspberry, passionfruit and mango, orange ales, and a full-bodied stout, that are not available in the taproom.
Malbygg’s drinks are delicious, and a real treat for beer lovers, while design aficionados will also enjoy the vibrant illustrations emblazoned on each can by Icelandic designers Harpa Kjartansdóttir and Sölvi Dúnn Snæbjörnsson.
Lady Brewery, Reykjavik
Based in Grandi, Reykjavík’s fish-packing harbor district, Lady Brewery is a trailblazing all-female brewery led by Þórey Björk Halldórsdóttir and Ragnheiður Axel.
Discover Lady Brewery’s three regular drinks at the House of Lady headquarters, including the tantalizing First Lady IPA, featuring citrus and floral notes.
Tastings also offer an education on the history of women in beer, and the ingredients and process that goes into making Lady Brewery beers.
Try Drink Like a Girl, a superb fresh and fruity Hazy Pale Ale. Basic Bitch is a hoppy lager, and a fourth drink, The Other Woman, is an American Blond Ale, which promises a hint of citrus-orange.
Ölvisholt Brewery, near Reykjavik
An hour’s drive southeast of Reykjavik, Ölvisholt is one of the most southerly breweries in Iceland. Ölvisholt Brewery in Flóahreppi, near the pretty town of Selfoss, is set on a former dairy farm, founded by two neighboring farmers.
Since the beginning, Ásta Ósk has been Ölvisholt’s brewmaster. Though still in its infancy, launched in 2017, Ölvisholt produces an impressive range of 11 year-round beers, plus 10 special releases and seasonal drinks.
The first to launch was Skjálfti, a Californian-style lager. What gives this delicious brew a West Coast edge? It’s fermented at a higher temperature to give a richer, more aromatic finish.
Don’t be fooled into thinking beers are just for drinking with chips and dips. Ölvisholt also recommends dishes to pair with each of its creations, for example, spicy cuisine and hard cheeses pair well with Skjálfti.
Freyja, a cloudy, citrussy Belgian-style witbier, or white beer, with orange peel and coriander, has a punchy finish and pairs well with a selection of seafood and spicy dishes. Pale ales, red ales, stout, IPAs, lagers, and a resonant blueberry witbier add plenty of variety to Ölvisholt’s repertoire.
Ölvisholt’s tap room in a former cow shed is open throughout summer in Iceland. Tours must be pre-booked and offer an introduction to the brewery’s history and the opportunity to try the eclectic range of ales.
Einstök Ölgerð, Akureyri
This 60° North brewhouse is among the most exciting breweries in Iceland for its dynamic lineup of drinks infused with locally foraged ingredients, such as juniper berries and bilberries. Einstök Ölgerð also uses ultra-fresh glacial water sourced from the nearby Hlíðarfjall, a mountain to the west of Akureyri.
Dampen your thirst on Einstök Ölgerð’s exhilarating Icelandic Arctic Lager or Arctic Pale Ale. There’s also a White Ale and a Toasted Porter.
A standout is the Wee Heavy Scotch Ale, combining a unique blend of smoked barley and angelica root, and notes of caramel to create a robust and well-balanced drink.
Visit the cozy Ölstofa Akureyrar, Einstök Ölgerð’s tasting room, between Akureyrarkirkja, the city’s stark Lutheran church, and Akureyri Art Museum, and settle in for a taster.
Beer tastings are served on a hand-carved wooden axe. Spot a number of ingredients—grains, malts, hops, smoked Icelandic barley, and chocolate malt—lined up on the backlit shelf behind the bar.
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