What are the best beers in Iceland? Icelanders do not have a long history with beer. It was banned from 1915 to 1989. Before the ban, you could buy beer, but there isn’t much information about it. Before imported beer, Icelanders, like many others, brewed their own beer. But since our water is so clean, we did not have the same need for it as others.

Reykjavik-Beer-Tour-Skal-Cheers, best beers in Iceland

Icelanders being how they are, we never want to be left behind. We love being the best at something. And it happens pretty often for such a small nation if we measure it by per capita. For example, we had the biggest bank bankruptcy in economic history in 2008… per capita, of course.

We don’t want to be left behind and thought to be tacky. We want to be on top of things. However, it wasn’t until a few years into the new century that we started brewing something other than lager. For the first almost 20 years, the two big breweries already established (Víking and Egils) dominated the market.
It wasn’t until Kaldi opened in the late 2000s that the beer market changed, and today there are over 30 breweries in Iceland.

Despite the number of breweries, the lager beers Víking (owned by CCEP) and Gull (owned by Ölgerðin) are still consistently the most sold lagers in Iceland. Ölgerðin also manufactures the lager Boli.

Most Popular Beers in Vínbúðin

The top three beers sold in the state liquor store Vínbúðin (literally: Wine Store) are consistently the same.

The store has two beer categories: lager and other beer. The Vínbúð is technically the only place you can buy beer, apart from bars and restaurants in Iceland. However, a few online stores sell beer, and then a newly signed law allows breweries to sell their beer onsite. You can also check out Bjórland and Heimkaup.

But, regardless of that, Vínbúðin is the best place to see what kind of beer people generally drink in Iceland. For the past two years, Viking Gull has been the most sold beer, Gull lite the second most sold, and Boli Premium the third most sold. But are the most sold beers necessarily the best beers in Iceland? Maybe not, but it shows, without a doubt, that people generally like those beers.

In 2019, it was Víking Gull, Faxe (a Danish beer), and Viking Lager. That shows that Gull lite is gaining popularity. People want to drink beer without all the calories. It is a light beer, maybe a bit in the vein of Corona Extra. Víking Lite Lime is consistently the most sold in the category “Other beers and ales.” As the name implies, it is a light beer with a lime taste. You could maybe compare it to Corona Extra with a wedge of lime.

Top three sold beers in 2021 and 2020

Top ten 2021:

  1. Víking Gylltur
  2. Gull Lite (500ml)
  3. Boli Premium
  4. Viking Lager
  5. Tuborg Green
  6. Egils Gull
  7. Tuborg Classic
  8. Faxe Premium
  9. Viking Lite
  10. Gull Lite (330 ml)

Top ten 2020:

  1. Viking Gylltur
  2. Gull Lite
  3. Boli Premium
  4. Víking Lager
  5. Tuborg Green
  6. Egils Gull
  7. Tuborg Classic
  8. Faxe Premium
  9. Viking Lite
  10. Stella Artois
Top three most sold beers in 2019

Top ten 2019:

  1. Viking Gylltur
  2. Faxe Premium
  3. Viking Lager
  4. Tuborg Green
  5. Boli Premium
  6. Egils Gull
  7. Gull Lite
  8. Tuborg Classic
  9. Faxe Royal
  10. Thule
Most sold “other beers and ales”.

Top ten in “other beers and ales” 2021:

  1. Víking Lite Lime
  2. Einstök White Ale (Can)
  3. Einstök White Ale (bottle)
  4. Bóndi Session IPA (can)
  5. Kronenbourg 1664 Blank (bottle)
  6. Úlfrún nr. 34 (can)
  7. Winstök Whie Ale (bottle)
  8. Guinness Draught (can)
  9. Gull Lite Summer White Ale
  10. Albani Mosaic IPA (can)

Top ten in “other beers and ales” 2020:

  1. Víking Lite Lime
  2. Einstök White Ale (Can)
  3. Einstök White Ale (bottle)
  4. Úlfrún nr. 34 (can)
  5. Einstök White Ale (bottle)
  6. Guinness Draught (can)
  7. Kronenbourg 1664 Blanc (bottle)
  8. Albani Mosaic IPA (can)
  9. Bóndi Session IPA (can)
  10. White Christmas Mandarine White Ale (can)

Top ten in “other beers and ales” 2019:

  1. Víking Lite Lime
  2. Einstök White Ale (Can)
  3. Einstök White Ale (bottle)
  4. Guinness Draught
  5. Úlfrún nr. 34
  6. Einstök Arctic Pale Ale (can)
  7. Einstök Artic Pale Ale (bottle)
  8. Úlfur nr. 3
  9. Kronenbourg 1664 Blanc
  10. Albani Mosaic IPA (can)

Most Popular Beers on Untappd and Rateabeer

When checking rating sites like Untappd and Rateabeer, you get a different view of beer. Beer enthusiasts are generally the only people who rate beers consistently on those sites.

What is different about those sites is that stouts and porters always get the highest votes. They have complex and fuller tastes and are generally just “one-off” beers that have not been manufactured in large quantities for many years. So, you might not be able to get the beers on these lists. Also, note we have chosen just to show you the top-rated Icelandic beers, not the overall best beers rated in Iceland.

Many of the beers are still available, but not the exact same version. But looking at the lists, you can see that Surtur and Garún are the two beers consistently voted into the top 10 list of best beers in Iceland. Even if you can’t find exactly that number, we recommend you try it.

When this blog was written, there were no Surtur available in Vínbúðin, but you can buy Garún numbers 19,4 and 19. The Borg Brewery is owned by Ölgerðin, which also manufactures Gull.

Top three best beers in Iceland according to Rate a Beer

Rate A Beer’s top ten Icelandic beers:

  1. Borg – Surtur Nr. 8,8 – 2020 Aged Bourbon and Cognac Casks
  2. Borg – Garún Icelandic Stout Nr. 19,3
  3. Borg – Surtur Nr. 8 R
  4. Borg – Surtur Nr. 38
  5. Borg – Surtur Nr. 61
  6. Ölvisholt Lava
  7. Borg – Garún Icelandic Stout Nr. 19
  8. Borg – Garún Icelandic Stout Nr. 19,4 (Brennivín BA)
  9. Borg – Hurðarskellir
  10. Borg – Surtur Nr. 30
The best beers in Iceland, according to Untappd.

Untappd’s top ten Icelandic beers:

  1. Borg – Surtur Nr. 8,8 – 2020 Aged Bourbon and Cognac Casks
  2. Borg – Surtur Nr. 8,2 (Bourbon BA)
  3. Borg – Surtur Nr. 8,4 (Single Malt Whiskey BA)
  4. Borg – Garún Nr. 19,3 (Bourbon BA)
  5. Borg – Surtur Nr. 61 (2019)
  6. Borg – Surtur Nr. 38
  7. Borg – Surtur nr 8,9 (Mezcal BA)
  8. Malbygg – Brewhaha
  9. Borg – Hurðarskellir Nr. 54
  10. Borg – Surtur Nr. 8,5 (Armagnac BA)

Borg describes Surtur this way: “Under the tanned creamy head, shades of fire roasted corn and burnt sugar blend mysteriously with darker tones of chocolate, strong coffee and licorice.” Additionally, number 8,8 was aged in “bourbon casks giving it a smooth character with sweet yet sophisticated tones of vanilla and an oaky aroma.” Number 8,4 was aged in “Single Malt Scotch Whisky casks, lending it bittersweet tones of berries and vanilla.”

For Garún nr. 19,3, Borg said it was aged in Bourbon casks and had hints of chocolate, coffee, licorice and vanilla.

More Beer!

Icelanders love brewing speciality beers, and each season has new beers. Summer beers, Christmas beers, Þorrablót beers and Easter Beers. So, when you come to Iceland, you will always find something new to try.

But where to try them? The best bars for speciality beers are Skúli Fógeti, Session Bar and Stereo. Micro Bar is also good, but that’s a bar run by Gæðingur Brewery.

Have you tried any of these beers? What do you think are the best beers in Iceland? If you want to try more beers, we recommend you check out our Reykjavik Beer and Booze tour. If you want to taste new beers on your travels around Iceland, check out our Craft Breweries in Iceland blog post.

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