When visiting a new country, the quickest way to get your taste of the culture is through food and drinks. If you are traveling to Iceland over Christmas, you will need to try some of the delicious Icelandic Christmas beers. Icelanders might not be able to grow berries for wine, but we can sure make beer. The reason for this is the fact that beer was banned in Iceland up until 1989. This prohibition was lifted on the 1st of March of that year, and since then, this date marks Beer Day in Iceland.
List of top Icelandic beers
1. Bjólfur Grenibjór or "when you look for 'something different'"
“Greni”, or “spruce” in Icelandic, hints that this drink is not your average beer, but rather light, soft, and with a “twist.” It’s 5,2% vol and only comes in a bottle. Trust us, the caramel and pine combination is worth the try. Made by the youngest Christmas beer-making brewery (2017), “Greni” is golden, not too sweet, soft, and a little bitter. Its unique flavor comes from roasted malts, caramel, and pine.
5.2% alc./vol. / 330 ml bottles
2. Magnús Frúktus or "fruity Christmas beer"
If you’re a fan of fresh and sour flavors, then this Christmas beer is something up your alley. Made by RVK Brewing Company, the taste palette of this beer includes raspberries, blueberries, cherries, and a bit of vanilla. Clearly an interesting choice for this festive period.
6.1% alc./vol. / 330 ml can
3. Egils Malt Jólabjór or “the old but cold one”
Egils Malt Jólabjór is a dark lager beer that looks and kind of tastes exactly like the extremely popular old Icelandic drink Maltöl. This dark brown, sweet, caramel, and licorice drink is the ultimate Icelandic Christmas beer.
5.6% alc./vol. / 330 ml bottles and cans
4. Jóla Kaldi or "the classic beer”
A strong lager brewed from three different Czech malts and two types of hops that make the beer stay fresh longer. Jóla Kaldi is always sold out before Christmas, and this year might be no different. Jóla Kaldi has often been chosen as the best Christmas beer since 2008, when it was first brewed. What does it taste like? This golden-colored beer from roasted malts, nuts, and beans is quite dry and bitter.
5.4% alc./vol. / 330 ml bottles
5. Nr. 14 Giljagaur or “the sweet but strong one”
This beer is named after Giljagaur – one of the Icelandic Yule Lads. But this is not the only thing that makes this festive beer special. Because of its high alcohol percentage, it’s also recognized as barley wine that’s a bit bitter but rich in various flavors such as dried fruit and caramel. A beer that’s created to surprise you!
10% alc./vol. / 330 ml bottles
6. Jólakisi IPA or "Christmas Cat beer"
Even by tasting Icelandic beer, you can learn so much about the country’s Christmas legends. The first thing you’ll see while picking up a can of Jólakisi IPA is expressive Christmas cat eyes, looking for those who haven’t acquired a new piece of clothing. But once you try the drink filled with tropical notes such as mango, pineapple, and passion fruit, your worries about the naughty cat might be gone. This IPA is a great choice for those who enjoy fruity flavors balanced with some bitterness.
7% alc./vol. / 440 ml cans
7. Einstök's Icelandic doppelbock or “The Winner”
This beer has been a local (and international) favorite since it first came out. A dark lager with a hint of sweet yet bitter roasted malts, caramel, and coffee! Einstök Doppelbock just yells Christmas and is my ultimate favorite Christmas beer. If you are going for just one, choose this one!
6.7% alc./vol. / 330 ml bottles
Have you ever tried an Icelandic Christmas beer? If not, don’t miss the opportunity to taste some delicious beers once you’re here in Iceland!