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 because of its staple-hood in Danish culture and was in fact banned in Iceland until 1989. After a long period of bars in downtown Reykjavik predominantly serving mainstream lagers such as Víking, Gull, and Carlsberg, the addition of a developing craft beer culture is very welcome. While there are only a few bars in Reykjavik that focus specifically on craft beer, which will come first on the list, there are numerous other bars in the capital and elsewhere on the island where you can find a small selection.
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.
Microbar, Vesturgata 2, 101 Reykjavik, +354 865 8389
Taster set of 10 beers at Microbar | © calflier001/Flickr
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.
Skúli Craftbar, Aðalstræti 9, 101 Reykjavik, +354 519 6455
Mikkeller & Friends
This bar only serves beer from the Danish Mikkeller brewery. Mikkeller beers come in a wide variety of exciting experiments popping up from the producers. Mikkeller is on the top floor of a downtown building that also houses a pizza place.
Mikkeller & Friends, Hverfisgata 12, 101 Reykjavik, +354 437 0203
Enjoying a Beer at Mikkeller | © ActiveSteve/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.
Bjórgarðurinn, Þórunnartún 1, 105 Reykjavík, +354 531 9030
Brio. nr. 1 by Borg | © Jessica Simpson/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!
Bryggjan Brugghús, Grandagarður 8, 101 Reykjavik, +354 456 4040
Borg Brugghús beers | © James Brooks/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.’
Kex Hostel, Skúlagata 28, 101 Reykjavik, +354 561 6060
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.
Kaldi Bar, Laugavegur 20b, 101 Reykjavik, +354 581 2200
Brugghúsbarinn serves beer from the local Kaldi brewery, just outside of Akureyrí. Enjoy the cozy atmosphere in this establishment close to the source of the Iceland’s first microbrewery.
Brugghúsbarinn, Akursíða 2, 600 Akureyri, +354 659 4149
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.
Ölstofa Akureyrar, Kaupvangsstræti 23, 600 Akureyri, +354 663 8886
R5 Beer Lounge
The Akureyri bar has a wide selection of local beer, including Kaldi, and whiskey from all over the world.
R5 Beer Lounge, Ráðhústorg 5, 600 Akureyri, +354 462 1400
R5 Beer Lounge | © ActiveSteve/Flickr
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.
Akureyri Backpackers, Hafnarstræti 98, 600 Akureyri, +354 571 9050
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.
Slippurinn, Strandvegur, Vestmannaeyjarbæ, +354 481 1515
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.
Narfeyrarstofa, Aðalgata 3, Stykkishólmur, +354 533 1119
Micro Bar and Bed
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.
Micro Bar and Bed, Aðalgata 17, 550 Sauðárkrókur, +354 467 3133
Bar, American, Northern European, $$$
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.
Loft Hostel, Bankastræti 7a, 101 Reykjavík, +354 553 8140
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.
Íslenski Barinn, Ingólfstræti 1a, 101 Reykjavik, +354 517 6767