Top Spots in Iceland for Craft Beer

Skuli | © ActiveSteve/Flickr
Camille Buckley

The trend for brewing and drinking craft beer is picking up momentum in Iceland. Beer drinking was traditionally seen as unpatriotic in the early 20th century and was in fact banned in Iceland until 1989. After a long period of bars in downtown Reykjavik predominantly serving mainstream lagers, the developing craft beer culture in the capital and elsewhere is celebrated at these bars.

1. Microbar

Bar, Restaurant, Beer

Taster set of 10 beers at Microbar
© calflier001/Flickr
This is one of the oldest craft beer bars in Iceland. Microbar has 10 different beers on draught as well as more than 80 different kinds of bottled beers, ales, stouts and imperial stouts, IPAs, barley wines and lagers from Europe and North America. Also worth noting is that at least 25 of the beers available at Micro Bar cannot be found anywhere else in Iceland.

2. Skúli Craftbar

Craft Ale Bar, Bar, Beer

Skúli focuses on quality craft beers, both Icelandic and non-Icelandic. The 14 beers on draught, which change frequently, are written on a blackboard behind the bar. The selection of bottled beer is quite extensive, with more than 130 types. Skúli also has beer sampling trays and offer food pairings.

3. Bjórgarðurinn

Bistro, Beer, Street Food

Brio. nr. 1 by Borg
© Jessica Simpson/Flickr
This is Iceland’s version of the German Biergarten, located in Reykjavík’s business district, not far away from Hlemmur Bus Terminal. The emphasis here is on pairing classic bistro food with high-quality beer. They also have a beer cocktail menu.

4. Bryggjan Brugghús

Bar, Bistro, Craft Ale Bar, Restaurant, Cocktails, Snacks

Borg Brugghús beers
© James Brooks/Flickr

Here, the beer is brewed on-site with the beer being pumped straight from the brewery into your glass. Bryggjan also has an excellent restaurant with classic bistro dishes. Last but not least, Bryggjan also has a Beer School, where you can learn all about the beers available, how they’re made and what food they’re best paired with. If all that doesn’t impress you, they have a jazz night every Sunday!

5. Kex Hostel

Bar, Boutique Hotel Restaurant, American, Northern European

Kex Hostel, Reykjavik
© Eric de Redelijkheid / Flickr
This vintage decor hostel has an excellent bar and restaurant as a lounge. There are always a few different microbrews on tap and a variety of bottled beers that usually stay the same, as the focus here is on a broad selection of Icelandic beers. The food menu is also excellent with a few locally inspired unique specialties, such as bacon-wrapped dates, also known as ‘Devil on a Horseback.’

6. Kaldi Bar

Bar, Northern European

Kaldi beer is the product of the biggest microbrewery in Iceland, Kaldi breweries, located close to Akureyri in the North. The Reykjavik bar is located on the downtown street, Laugavegur, and serves all of Kaldi’s exciting editions. The atmosphere is small and cozy with a buzzing happy hour.

7. Ölstofa Akureyrar

Bar, Northern European

Courtesy of Ölstofa Akureyrar / Facebook
Ölstofa Akureyrar is close to the church in downtown Akureyri, with a relaxing environment where you can easily come alone or with friends. Enjoy local beers from draught or choose from more than 40 bottle beers from all over the world, with most coming from Iceland.

8. R5 Beer Lounge

Bar, Northern European

R5 Beer Lounge
© ActiveSteve/Flickr

This Akureyri bar has a wide selection of local beer, including Kaldi, and whiskey from all over the world.

9. Akureyri Backpackers

Bar, Restaurant, American, Northern European, European

© Akureyri Backpackers
This Akureyri hostel has a rustic restaurant and bar in the lounge, a place where locals and tourists mingle. The bar offers a great selection of Icelandic beers, lagers and ale from Borg’s microbrewery. There are also IPAs, porters and stouts available at this lively hostel.

10. Slippurinn

Bar, Restaurant, Icelandic

Slippurinn (The Ship Yard) is a family-run eatery located in a former machine workshop by the harbor in the Westman Islands. The eatery offers a beautiful view of Heimaklettur, the island’s landmark mountain. Enjoy local food and pair it with local beer on draught – the only place to get craft beer on the island.

11. Narfeyrarstofa

Restaurant, Seafood, European, Soup

The restaurant is located in the oldest part of the quaint fishing village of Stykkishólmur, by the Breiðafjörður Bay in West Iceland. The restaurant has an interesting local food menu including fresh fish, lamb and blue mussels from the area; enjoy a small selection of local craft beer on tap, the widest variety in the town.

12. Micro Bar and Bed

Bar, Beer

Set against a backdrop of crisp mountain-peak, this establishment full of vintage sofa sets create the atmosphere of this bar on Sauðárkrókur’s main drag. They offer local brews on tap as well as much more in bottles.

13. Loft Hostel

Bar, American, Northern European

© ActiveSteve / Flickr
This hostel located in downtown Reykjavik is cozy and eco-friendly, with a great balcony overlooking the main street – an excellent place from which to soak in the summer sun or winter aurora with a local craft beer.

14. Íslenski Barinn

Bar, Market, Restaurant, Beer, European, Pub Grub

The Icelandic bar is also an Icelandic restaurant, with an atmosphere intent on capturing the best of Icelandic culture. With Icelandic beer going through a renaissance period lately, the bar definitely serves all the Icelandic beers on the market.

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