Iceland Mag

11 Reykjavik

Iceland Mag

Food & Drink

The Christmas beer season is almost here — some bars have jumped the gun

By Staff

  • A few examples from previous season This year the state liqour stores will offer around 50 different varieties of Christmas beer. Photo/Stefán Karlsson

You know the holiday season is approaching in Iceland when bars in Reykjavík begin to serve the seasonal “Christmas beer” on tap. Officially the Christmas beer season begins whith arrival of the seasonal beers on the shelves of the outlets of Vínbúðin (the state liquor stores), which will take place on Tuesday 15 November this year (there is a state monopoly on sales of alcohol in Iceland).

However, some bars in Reykjavík have jumped the gun and are already selling Christmas beer on tap, with some of the Icelandic micro-breweries having released their seasonal brews on tap. 

This years’ selection will include around 50 different varieties, compared to 34 last year, so beer lovers will have many different varieties to sample. The majority will be brewed locally in Iceland, which is by iteself a cause to raise a glass and say skál!

Icelandic beer culture has evolved rapidly in the past few years. Several excellent microbreweries and microbrew-pubs have opened up and the big brewing companies now to offer more types of beer than the typical lager.

We have come a long way in Iceland, as beer was banned here as recently as 1989.

The annual Icelandic Beer Day 
March 1st is a big day on Iceland’s drinking calendar. That’s the date when it became legal to buy beer in Iceland again, after having been off limits from 1915 to 1989.

When alcohol prohibition swept the world in the early 20th century all alcohol was banned in Iceland. The ban was lifted in 1935 but beer was left out. Why— while vine and strong alcohol was allowed—is still hard to comprehend.

Every year since the ban was rescinded the “Beer Day” has been celebrated around the island.

Related content

Editor's Picks