The first craft brewery in Iceland was founded in 2006. Since then over 20 have been established all around the island. Travelling around the country and tasting locally brewed beers is a fun twist to the traditional Ring Road trip!
History of the beer in Iceland
Iceland has had a relatively strenuous and weird relationship with this age-old golden beverage. When the temperance movement was rocking the world in the early 20th century, Icelanders took part in it. In 1915, all alcohol was banned in Iceland. Only 7 years later, the so-called “Spain Wine” was allowed again due to the protest of Spanish authorities. They said they’d stop buying our stockfish if we wouldn’t resume buying their wine.
In 1935, it was decided to allow alcohol again… apart from beer. Then it was banned in different forms until 1 March 1989.
During World War II, Iceland was occupied by allied forces, Britain and the United States. The soldiers regularly got days off and would generally come to town to have fun. Both militaries did not approve that their soldiers would only drink strong liquor, such as vodka and rum. They demanded that beer be sold to them, so Ölgerðin got an exemption from the beer manufacturing beer, and Polar Beer was invented. It was, however, only accessible to soldiers.
Later on, pilots and flight attendants could buy beer in the Duty-Free on their way into the country. After the rules were changed again, anyone could buy beer in the Duty-Free shop – but only there. It was still not allowed in Iceland.
Then in 1989, it was finally allowed, and Icelanders still celebrate 1 March as the Beer Day. However, it did not come easy, and a few MPs fought staunchly against lifting the ban.
Craft Breweries in Iceland
It is only relatively recently that craft breweries started popping up in Iceland. And today, there are at least 27 craft breweries all over the country. In 2018, the Independent Craft Brewers of Iceland was established. The aim is to promote an improved operating environment for smaller breweries.
The association comprised 18 craft breweries all across the country in 2018, but today there are 25 of them. You notice that there are 25 in the association, while at least 27 craft breweries in Iceland. The reason for that is that two of them are gipsy breweries.
The association safeguards the interests of craft breweries by following up on important issues such as being allowed to sell their products directly to the public from their factory, as is permitted in other Nordic countries. The association has also pushed for smaller alcohol producers to be given a discount on the alcohol tax following EU customs authorizations. Finally, the association wants to safeguard access and further increase the supply of products from craft breweries in bars and restaurants in the country and in Vínbúðin’s stores.
The Independent Craft Brewers regularly release a map of the breweries, making it possible for you to travel the island and try out all the different kinds of beers in their manufactured locations. It also goes without saying that you should not drink and drive, so please have a designated driver with you.
Almost all of the beers the breweries mentioned in this blog post manufacture can also be bought in the state-owned liquor store Vínbúðin and Bjórland.
Travel the country and try new beers
We are taking you anti-clockwise around the country. From Reykjavík to Reykjanes Peninsula, we begin in the small town of Garður at the tip of the peninsula.
Litla brugghúsið, or the Small brewery, was established a few years ago, but its first beer was sold in October 2020. The three owners Kristinn Bergsson, Davíð Ásgeirsson and Markús Arnar Finnbjörnsson are all from the Reykjanes Penisula and have great interest in beer and brewing.
The name is derived from an amateur theatre company in Garður called Litla leikfélagið, or the Small theatre company. The theatre had grand plans and built a theatre for their company. However, life got in the way, and they never used it. The brewery bought the building and, to honour their memory, named it after the original owners.
The brewery doesn’t have set opening hours, but they will gladly receive groups or visits. For further information, email the brewery.
Close to the Blue Lagoon, you will find Grindavík. In 2016 a few friends visited a brewery during Verslunarmannahelgi in August. They realized they wanted to try brewing beer for themselves and that it was easy to do. Then on 22 October that year, they tasted one of their homebrewed beers. They felt it was so good that they started a brewery and named it after the fateful night. And that’s how 22.10 Brugghús became to be!
You can visit the brewery and taste their beers on Thursdays and Fridays. They usually have 8 different types of beers on tap along with other good drinks.
Thursdays 17:00 – 21:00
Fridays 17:00 – 19:00
Ölverk Brewery in Hveragerði
After an excellent visit to the Reykjanes Peninsula and maybe the Blue Lagoon, we go to Hveragerði in south Iceland.
Ölverk Pizza and Brewery is powered by geothermal energy in Hveragerði. The town is renowned for its geothermal activity. It is also the place to go if you want to check out Reykjadalur and bathe in a geothermal river.
Ölverk opened in 2017, intending to bake premium wood-fired pizzas and produce premium craft beer. The brewery is family-owned, run by Laufey Sif Lárusdóttir (owner, CEO and General Manager), her fiancé Elvar Þrastarson (owner, Head Brewmaster and Pizza Expert) and Ragnar Karl Gústafsson (owner, Quality Expert and Mechanic).
Sunday – Thursday: 11:30 – 22:00
Friday – Saturday: 11:30 – 23:00
The kitchen closes at 21:00.
Ölvisholt Brewery near Selfoss
Ölvisholt was established in 2007 by two neighbouring farmers who had a passion for brewing beer. Located on an old dairy farm just outside Selfoss, the aim was to brew beer of a quality unseen in Iceland. It can be said they started the popularity of the micro- and craft breweries in Iceland.
Their taproom is only open for tours on Fridays at 6 pm for individuals or groups (fewer than 15 people). On tour, you will get an introduction to the brewery’s history and the brewing process and try a selection of their beers.
This tour needs to be booked at least 24 hours in advance by sending them an email.
Otherwise, you can find their beers in all premium bars in Iceland as well as Vínbúðin, the state liquor store.
The Brothers Brewery in Vestmannaeyjar
We hope you don’t get seasick because, for your next brewery, you will need to hop on a ferry to Vestmannaeyjar.
The Brothers Brewery was established in 2012 by two friends who got their two brothers to help out with the process. They went from the kitchen to a garage in a couple of years, and in 2014 the owner of Einsi kaldi, one of the town’s biggest restaurants, Einar Björn, asked to sell their beer on tap. Since then, their production has only gotten bigger. Their brewery is now in a 550m2 space, where there is also a tavern for you to taste their beers. There is a possibility to rent the top floor for a private introduction and tasting.
Wednesday – Thursday: 16:00 – 22:00
Friday: 16:00 – 02:00
Saturday: 14:00 – 02:00
Smiðjan Brugghús in Vík in Mýrdalur
Smiðjan Brugghús is a brewery and a restaurant in Vík in Mýrdalur. The brewery opened in 2018, but the four founders got together to brew good beer, cook good food and make something fun happen in the small village.
In 2021 they opened a second restaurant in Selfoss. Check them out and have a delicious hamburger or chicken wings and an ice-cold craft beer.
Address in Vík:
Monday – Sunday: 12:00 – 00:00
Address in Selfoss:
Opening hours in Selfoss:
Sunday – Thursday: 12:00 – 23:00
Friday – Saturday: 12:00 – 01:00
The kitchen closes at 21:00
Jón Ríki Brewery near Höfn
It is a bit of a drive from Vík to Höfn, so we recommend you do some sightseeing. Fjaðrárgljúfur, Sólheimasandur, Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon and the Diamond Beach are all on the way from Vík to Höfn.
Jón Ríki is situated about 34 km west of Höfn. It is a family-owned brewery and a restaurant, and they focus on first-class products and quality malts. That allows them to offer quality seasonal food and innovative craft beers. The brewery was founded in 2015.
They have sadly been closed temporarily. Please, contact them before driving out.
Beljandi Brugghús is in Breiðdalsvík in the East Fjords. Breiðdalsvík is a small town with about 130 inhabitants. Breiðdalsvík is one of the few places in Iceland bombed. On 10 September 1942, a German military plane attacked the residential building Hamar. It was shot with machine gun explosives. Nine holes were made in the house, but no one was injured even though people were inside the house.
Opening hours: TBA for the summer
In Egilsstaðir, you will find Austri brugghús, the first in the East Fjords. Their beers are all named after mountains in East Iceland and are available in all state-owned Vínbúðin liquor stores and Askur Taproom, the same space as the brewery.
Askur Taproom offers beers from Austri as well as cocktails. They’re open every day and have a happy hour between 16:30 and 18:00. They offer regular concerts, pub quizzes, and board games and you can watch football there.
For a different experience, we recommend checking out the geothermal Vök baths just outside Egilsstaðir. You can lie in the only floating pools in Iceland and try their house beers, Vökvi and Vaka, which are brewed in cooperation with Austri.
Monday – Sunday 11:00 – 23:00
The Borgarfjörður Eystri north of Egilsstaðir you will find KHB Brugghús. It is in one of the oldest houses in the small town, known for its music festival Bræðslan and its significant elf population! The house was built in 1897 and has a long and interesting merchant history. Since the beginning, many different stores have been there, but KHB Brugghús moved there in 2020.
Apart from beers, they produce Landi (Icelandic Vodka) and Gin. Their Landi has garnered much attention. Their gin was recently awarded the silver medal in a large Gin-competition in London.
They manufacture Czech beers and work with an experienced brewer who was the head brewer for Pilsner Urquell in the Czech Republic. A small family-owned company in the Czech Republic manufactures the malt they use for the beer. Their beers are non-pasteurized, without added sugar and have no preservatives.
You can get an introduction to their brewery at 14:00 and 15:30, and then their bar will be open from 17:00, hopefully from the end of May.
For Eurovision fans, this town is a must visit if you have seen the Netflix movie Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga. There is even a Eurovision Museum! However, for beer enthusiasts, you can visit Húsavík öl brewery. They have a few delicious beers on offer when they are open.
Friday – Saturday 20:00 – 01:00
Now we’re in Akureyri, the biggest town in Northern Iceland. The brewery 6a Kraftöl was founded in 2021, but the name refers to a shed they had their brewing equipment in the beginning. It could probably be called a shack since it would fill with water if it rained. Someone had sprayed 6a on the outside of the house, and they referred to the brewing shed by that name. And that’s how 6a kraftöl began.
Their first beer was sold in the restaurant Centrum in Hafnarstræti in Akureyri. It was amber ale and sold out in a few hours. They call themselves a nano brewery since they only do about 160 litres at a time. You can get their beer at Centrum and Bjórland.
Bruggsmiðjan Kaldi / The Beer Spa
North of Akureyri is Dalvík. There, you will find Bruggsmiðjan Kaldi. It is the first craft brewery in Iceland, established in 2006. The founder had been a fisherman for 26 years when he got injured and couldn’t work in 2003. A couple of years later, his wife saw a documentary about microbreweries and their increasing popularity worldwide. And just like that, they decided to open a brewery. It was a crazy idea because there were only two large breweries in Iceland at that time, and they were well established with decades of experience behind them.
Since then, it has become one of the bigger craft breweries in Iceland. They have a bar in Klapparstígur, Reykjavík and in Dalvík; we highly recommend checking out their beer spa. You hear that right! The bathtubs are made from Kambala wood which fits two people. They have seven tubs, which means they can accept 14 people at a time. There’s no age limit to the tubs because the bathwater is undrinkable, but each tub has beer on tap for people 20 years and older.
Their beer is brewed by German quality law. That means they only use water, malted barley, hops and yeast.
They have brewery tours every day apart from Sundays.
Address in Reykjavik:
Opening hours in Reykjavik:
Sunday – Thursday: 12:00 – 01:00
Friday – Saturday: 12:00 – 03:00
Segull 67 Brewery
Further north in the beautiful town of Siglufjörður, you will find the Segull 67 Brewery. This family-owned brewery is in an old fish factory which they adapted to the production. Segull means magnet, and the name refers to the magnetic needle in the compass, which always turns north. 67 has long been a lucky number for the family.
Segull67 offers a tour of the brewery with tasting (both private and not). They have a taproom as well.
Opening hours of taproom:
Fridays 16:00 – 19:00
Saturdays 15:00 – 19:00
Bjórsetur Íslands is operated by the staff of the University at Hólar. They are generally only open on Fridays, but it can happen they won’t open. As it is operated by staff members of the University, opening times during the summer months might be infrequent. We recommend sending them a line before you drive out there for the beer. The area, however, is well worth the visit.
You have now driven all South, East and North Iceland and have arrived in the West Fjords. In Ísafjörður, the largest town in the West Fjords, you will find Dokkan Brugghús.
Dokkan brugghús is the first brewery in the West Fjords, established in October 2017. The water used in the beer comes from the West Fjord mountains and is incredibly clear. The water has low mineral content and high basis equilibrium, without any additives, which gives it a cleaner and more refreshing taste.
Dokkan is a known place name in Ísafjörður, but the marina is locally called Dokkan. It means “the dock”, so it’s not far off. Dokkan’s history goes back to the mid-19th century.
Wednesday-Saturday 16:00 – 23:00
The family-owned Brugghús Steðja was formed in 2012. Their aim is to produce unique beers with a lot of character so that no two new beers would be similar.
Situated in Borgarfjörður, their taproom is unfortunately closed unless for larger groups. However, their beers are available in bars, the Vínbúðin liquor store and Bjórland. If you want to stay the night in Borgarfjörður before heading to the capital area, Steðji has accommodation available. Small summer houses made from large beer barrels.
Ok, you have done it! You have circled the island, tasting the local beer, and we have arrived in Reykjavík! We’re going to start in Grandi because there are three breweries there!
The first one is Öldur. Established in 2017, this brewery doesn’t brew beer but mead. Oh yes, the old drink Vikings loved. Öldur is situated in the same house as online beer stores Bjórland, and the name is an old Icelandic word meaning alcoholic drink.
Öldur invites guests to visit them to see the brewery, taste their mead, and you will learn about this ancient drink. The visit takes about 1-1,5 hours, and you will have to book ahead on their website.
Info to come
Lady Brewery is a gipsy brewery but has its headquarters in Grandi. It was established in 2017 and is run by Þórey Björk, a woman with a passion for producing beautifully tasting beer and fun experiences. Their first beer was their signature beer, FIRST LADY – IPA. The brewery focuses on quality, taste, design, and collaborations.
They will soon open an experimental kitchen, supermarket and a growler bar in their headquarters. Until that happens, guests are welcome to visit on Thursdays to have a taste and a chat.
Thursdays 11:00 – 17:00
RVK Brewing Co.
RVK Brewing Company was born out of a pure passion for a good beer. After working in the New York City Finance sector for years, the founder Siggi found his true love, good beer.
You can visit them at their brewery in Laugavegur and their place RVK Bruggstofan in Snorrabraut, where you can get delicious food on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays!
Address for brewery taproom:
Thursday – Saturday 16:00 – 23:00
Address for RVK Bruggstofan:
Sunday – Thursday 11:30 – 23:00
Friday – Saturday 11:30 – 01:00
Malbygg brewery was founded in 2017 and has been brewing beer since February 2018. The focus has been to brew beers the owners want to drink, but they are open to experimentation. They are constantly trying to improve their beers. They mostly brew hoppy beers, but kettle soured beers, stouts, and wild/sour ales can often be found in their selection.
Their taproom is open on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.
Thursdays – Saturdays 16:00 – 23:00
Gæðingur is the fourth craft brewery in Iceland, established in 2011. They started out in Skagafjörður in an old henhouse with 1000 L brewing barrels in the beginning. They grew fast, and then in 2014, it became the first Icelandic microbrewery to buy its own can filling machine. In 2012, the owners opened the first craft bar in Iceland MicroBar. At MicroBar, you can order a beer taster tray with five or ten beers.
Their brewery is now in Kópavogur, where they also have a tap room called MicroBar Kópavogur. It is possible to get a tour of the brewery by appointment.
Address for taproom:
Tuesday – Saturday 16:00 – 23:00
Address for MicroBar Reykjavik:
Monday 15:00 – 23:00
Tuesday – Wednesday 15:00 – 00:30
Thursday 15:00 – 23:00
Friday 15:00 – 00:00
Saturday 14:00 – 00:00
Sunday 14:00 – 23:00
Álfur brewery tries to brew only from Icelandic ingredients, which reduces food wastage. Beer is traditionally brewed from barley, water, hops and yeast. In addition to barley, it is popular to use wheat, oats, rice or something else which was starchy.
Álfur blends malted barley and Icelandic potatoes to get enough starch for their beer. They use leftover potatoes which aren’t used in the production of various potato products, that way, they reduce food waste. The potato doesn’t add taste to the beer.
Álfur does not have a taproom, but you can get their beers in Vínbúðin and Bjórland.
Just a heads up – you will not get beer here. Eimverk distillery makes whiskey, gin and brennivín. The distillery was founded in 2009 with the mission to make premium Icelandic liquors only from Icelandic ingredients. They manufacture three spirits: Flóki – single malt whiskey, Vor – pot distilled gin and Víti – their signature version of Icelandic Brennivín.
The whiskey Flóki is the first of its kind in Iceland. Handcrafted with four years of 163 trial distillations and maturations tests to ensure the perfect recipe.
Eimverk offers distillery tours Monday to Saturday at 16:00 – please book on their site.
BÖL Brewing is a gipsy brewing company founded a couple of years ago. The two owners, Axel and Hlynur, wanted to turn the taste experience up to 11 and realized they would have to do it themselves. Hlynur has a master’s degree in engineering. His thesis was on how to optimize alcohol production in beer, while Axel has a marketing degree.
As they’re a gipsy brewery, they do not have a taproom, but you will find their beers in Bjórland, Vínbúðin and bars such as Skúli and Session.
Og Natura is Iceland’s first winery. Its mission is to distil the essence of Iceland’s wild flora into a bottle. The family business brews gin, beers, cocktails, vodka, liqueurs, etc.
They do not have a taproom, but you will find their beers in Bjórland and Vínbúðin and their wines and spirits in Vínbúðin.
We hope you enjoyed this different Ring Road travel suggestion and please tag us if you do go around the country trying out various beers!