Scan Magazine, Issue 109, February 2018

Page 24

Scan Magazine  |  Culinary Feature  |  Iceland’s Beer Scene

The Annual Icelandic Beer Festival takes place 22-24 February. Photo: Lilja Jónsdóttir

From prohibition to thriving beer scene Beer was banned in Iceland until 1989. Since then, a growing microbrewing trend is making itself heard. These days, the island has around 20 breweries, dedicated beer tours and even its own beer spa where enthusiasts can soak in the malty, hoppy brew. By Malin Norman

Following prohibition for 74 years, beer was finally legalised in Iceland on 1 March 1989. After the ban was lifted, drinking habits shifted and according to the World Health Organization (WHO), beer accounts for 62 per cent of the alcoholic beverages consumed by Icelanders every year. New breweries are emerging and microbrewing is transforming the beer culture. Wake Up Reykjavík, known for its epic bar crawl, food walk and tours around the island, has picked up on the trend and organises a popular beer tour in Reykjavík, guiding beer lovers through the history of brewing with visits at some of the best bars, and tasting of ten beers. “Since 24  |  Issue 109  |  February 2018

the first craft brewery opened, the beer scene has exploaded,” says co-founder Dan Petursson about the exciting development. “Small breweries are popping up all over the place, and people on our tours are really surprised at the high quality.” According to Petursson, the great beer is a result of the clean Icelandic water, excellent equipment and a high standard in brewing. Some beers are infused with local ingredients, providing unique aromas and flavours.

Soak in a beer bath Bruggsmiðjan Kaldi was the first microbrewery in Iceland, opened in 2006 in the

northern village of Árskógssandur, making beer according to the Czech brewing method and with ingredients from the Czech Republic. The water for brewing comes from a spring at Sólarfjall mountain, and the beer is unpasteurised without preservatives or added sugar. The family business has expanded over the years, and production is now at a fantastic 750,000 litres per year. “Our focus is on making beer that is as clean and healthy as possible,” says head brewer Sigurður Bragi. Kaldi Blond, a crisp Czech-style pilsner, was Kaldi’s first beer and is now the most sold bottled beer in Iceland. In June 2017, the brewery also opened up beer spa Bjórböðin. Here, visitors can soak in a mix of warm beer, water, hops and yeast, which is believed to be cleansing for the skin and have a posi-

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