Beer, Iceland’s best friend since 1989. Before 1989, the malted barley beverage was banned in the country, so people made do by mixing non-alcoholic Pilsner with some Vodka. Those were some dark times.
In just over two decades, Icelanders went from enjoying the novelty of light lager beer to developing a discerning palate for locally brewed stouts, craft beers, pale ales and all sorts of brews. For the past years, breweries have popped up all over the country, constantly creating new varieties for the Icelandic market, such as Christmas and Easter brands.
For the longest time, drinking was serious business, and strictly a weekend activity. It was only after the introduction of beer onto the nation’s drinks menus, that we’ve learned about the beauty of Thursday beers. Who knew Thursdays could function as the new Fridays? Central Reykjavík is home to a myriad of pubs that give you a taste of all the best beers this island has to offer, and we’ve picked our favourites for you to try, whether it’s an intricate Micro Brewery or just a cozy pub.
What used to be a small hotel bar evolved into a larger, more regular bar, located in Vesturgata, run by the Gæðingur micro brewery. In this quiet underground pub, you are treated to an excellent variety of craft beers, some of which pop up for a few days only to be never seen again. The price might be a bit steep, but Micro Bar makes up for it in quality. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the variety, then don’t worry. You can try out many beers at once with a beer tasting tray.
Uppsalir – Bar & Café
If you prefer peace and quiet while enjoying your Thursday beer, then look no further than Uppsalir in Aðalstræti, Although it isn’t the most varied when it comes to a selection of draught beers, Uppsalir makes up for it with the quietest and relaxing venue in Reykjavík, ideal for chatting with your friends over a beer. Especially for those of us not in the Troubadour fan club. The bartenders are lovely, ready to blend any drinks for you and we recommend asking them about the yummy apple pie, ideal with your drinks.
Skúli Craft Bar
Named after Skúli the sheriff, whose statue is right next to the bar, Skúli Craft Bar is another excellent venue for beer enthusiasts. This is the ideal place to try out some of Borg Brewery’s finest, which sports a hefty amount of beers that suit everyone’s taste. Our personal favourite is Snorri, named after Icelandic historian Snorri Sturluson himself, known for preserving Norse mythology as we know it. Skúli and Míkró are two very comparable bars, relatively close to each other, offering a great beer experience for anyone looking for a decent Thursday pub crawl.
Mikkeller & Friends
This one definitely wins the prettiest building prize; a lovely, yellow-coloured concrete house that looks like it could house a large family from the early 20th century. Inside is plenty of space, and the bar shows a range of classic Mikkeller beer. Of particular note is the sour beer, which is iconic for the Reykjavík branch of Mikkeller. For those lacking the sour taste, there are plenty of beers to be enjoyed at this comfortable and beautiful place.
For those of us who are fans of some live music with our beer, look no further than Loft Hostel. It’s no microbrewery but it’s among the most popular Thursday beer spots, a spacious bar located at the top of a hostel in Bankastræti, known as a spot for up and coming musicians to play their tunes, as well as a nice hub for Pub Quizzes. If you brought friends who think of live music as noise, then you can simply put them outside to the balcony area, giving them a splendid view of the Laugavegur street of Reykjavík, while you enjoy the music.