Best Bars to Try Local Beer in Reykjavík
Beer brewing culture is certainly on the rise in Iceland, since the day the Icelandic beer prohibition was lifted the trade has really prospered. Today, a fine selection of quality local craft beers are taking on the bigger beer brands, in Reykjavik beer culture is thriving like never before. Picking the best is an ongoing competition and a really tough one, but we’ve decided to try to show you the best!
Although this Nordic island nation has a long history of enjoying beer and mead, the brewing of beer was effectively banned in Iceland for most of the 20th century. The Ölgerðin Egils Skallagrímsson Brewery in Akureyri was the only one allowed to brew low alcohol (less than 2%) beer. After the prohibition was lifted on March 1, 1989, the first local brewery opened in 2005, and Iceland now has an official National Beer Day. Every year on the 1st of March, locals celebrate the world’s favorite alcoholic beverage in true local style.
Today, a wide selection of quality beers and microbrews can be found in any Reykjavík bar, with more beers being added to the list every year. Though the cold weather makes it difficult to produce barley locally, new microbreweries are, nonetheless, popping up left, right and center, some of these have even garnered international awards in the past decade.
Essential Icelandic beer phrases
Before you hit Reykjavik’s best beer bars, here’s some vocabulary to practice with, so you can get the full local experience:
Brugghús and ölgerð are the words most commonly used for ‘brewery’. Look for those words on labels if you’re seeking out a local brew.
Bjór is what we call beer round these parts, it should be among the easier Icelandic words to pronounce. Certainly, it is easier than hangikjöt, a local smoked lamb dish that goes very well with bjór.
Now that you know the basic words, this is how your order: Ég ætla að fá (yeh-aitla-ath-fao or yeh-aitla-fao) translates literally as ‘I’m going to get’. Don’t worry, this is a perfectly polite and common way of ordering food and drinks in Iceland.
You’ll need to practice this phrase before you order – although everyone in Iceland speaks English fairly well. Let’s get started with where you’ll be using those words:
Mikkeller & Friends Reykjavík
Mikkeller is a Danish company which features beers from the best microbreweries in the world. They offer unique beers that you cannot find elsewhere. The bar itself is a hidden little gem, known mostly to the locals, located in one of the oldest houses in the Reykjavík downtown area, just above a pizzeria. Makes sense, who doesn’t want a beer with their pizza?
The bar has an incredible selection of 20 beers on tap and a very cozy interior, it just begs for longer stays and slow sipping. No wonder this place is so popular with the locals.
Location: Hverfisgata 12.
Sunday – Thursday: 17:00 – 01:00;
Friday – Saturday: 14:00 – 01:00
Price: 800 ISK +
Best to try: Hverfisgata Pils
If you are a first-timer in Reykjavík, Skúli Craftbar is the best place to start. It is located just around the corner from the main street, but it is never too crowded. The bar has a relaxed and local atmosphere, typical of the pub experience many beer lovers look for. This bar offers a good selection of local and imported beers, both on draft and by the bottle.
Location: Aðalstræti 9.
Sunday – Thursday: 12:00 – 23:00;
Friday – Saturday: 12:00 – 01:00
Happy hours: 14:00 – 19:00
Price: 1100 ISK +
Best to to try: Úlfur IPA beer
Micro Bar is now one of the oldest and best bars in Reykjavik, located only 70 m from Skuli, in the basement of a restaurant. The walls are adorned with artwork by Iceland’s native cartoonist, Hugleikur Dagsson, which makes the place unique and fun.
The bar is operated by the local brewery, Gæðingur, which is based in Skagafjörður, North Iceland. Therefore, the taps are dominated by their own beers but their selection of local and international beers is probably the richest in Iceland.
Location: Vesturgata 2.
Monday – Thursday: 16:00 – 00:30;
Friday: 16:00 – 00:30
Saturday: 13:00 – 00:30
Sunday: 13:00 – 00:30
Happy hours: 16:00 – 19:00
Price: 1000 ISK +
Best to try: beer tasting plate, a selection of 5 or 10 beers
Bryggjan Brugghús is the only microbrewery in the greater Reykjavík area. It is also a bistro, a fairly new place in Reykjavík which became very popular almost instantly. It is located in the popular Grandi area, close to the old harbour and the World of Whales Museum. The spacious bar has an unusually futuristic appearance, thanks to the 12 huge craft beer brewing tanks that the taps are connected directly to!
While delivering freshly brewed beer straight from the source, the bar also serves fresh gourmet meals – everything from Icelandic seafood to classic dishes and excellent fine wines. Bryggjan Brugghús also offers educational 60-minute beer courses, perfect for those who would like to know more about this golden beverage.
Location: Grandagarður 8.
Sunday – Wednesday: 11:30 – 23:00;
Thursday: 11:30 – 00:00
Friday – Saturday: 11:30 – 01:00
Kitchen opening hours:
Monday – Friday: 11:30 – 15:00 and 17:00 – 22:00
Saturday – Sunday: 11:30 – 15:00 and 17:00 – 22:30
(Between 15-17 guest can order food from bar menu)
Price: 1100 ISK +
Best to try: the taster menu, featuring 6 beers and 6 small traditional courses
Spending time traveling you often spend much of your money of food especially when traveling to Iceland. Iceland can be quite an expensive place but there is a way to do it on a more cheaper matter.